Careers at the Aspen Institute
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Aspen Institute employees come from a wide range of backgrounds and possess a unique blend of education, skill, and policy experience. We recognize that our people are our vital resource and we value their knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment. At the Aspen Institute we offer competitive salaries and a wide variety of benefits to our employees and their families.

If you would enjoy working in a dynamic environment and are looking for an opportunity to become part of a stellar team of professionals, we invite you to apply online today.

Program Associate (Postsecondary Success for Parents)

Department: ASCEND

The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Since its founding in 1949, the Institute has been driving change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most critical challenges facing communities in the United States and around the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

To achieve our mission of a more free, just, and equitable society, we commit to working proactively to advance the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our myriad endeavors such as the recruitment, compensation, training, and advancement of staff. The best people-serving institutions make this commitment, and we seek to be a leader in the ways that we do so and learn from others. Visit our website to learn more about our commitment and recent actions taken toward building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive environment.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is a catalyst and convener for systems, policy, and social impact leaders working to create a society where every family passes a legacy of prosperity and well-being from one generation to the next. We co-create and elevate innovative two-generation (2Gen) approaches with families and partners to forge pathways to educational success and economic mobility for both children and the adults in their lives. Ascend believes when we do right by all families, we all do better. We gather and invest in values-based leaders with big ambitions and bold visions for our families — leaders who have the reach and influence to transform systems. All our work is grounded in racial and gender equity with an intersectional lens. Ultimately, we are here to create a society where systemic opportunity abounds and every family flourishes.

Description and Basic Function:

The Program Associate will ensure the successful development and implementation of an initiative to raise awareness of and share recommendations to better support undergraduate students who are parents; work that is grounded in racial and gender equity, and family voice. The ideal candidate is a talented, early-career professional with experience handling a wide range of logistics, operational, and research tasks; is creative and eager to learn on the job; and has extremely high standards for the quality of their work.  The Program Associate is a critical position that will provide high-quality administrative, research, and outreach support to the team.

Advancing parents' postsecondary success is one of Ascend’s big ideas – and is a critical factor to achieving family economic mobility and well-being. With catalytic funding from Imaginable Futures in 2018, the Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative  built a foundation for a student parent movement. Within the first year, we laid groundwork that built and promoted an understanding of population needs, existing supports, challenges, and innovations/promising practices. Strategic landscaping and research efforts, through the engagement of parents, academic and social researchers, practitioners, higher education leaders and institutions, and policymakers, helped create a comprehensive “state of play” for parent postsecondary success. With additional funds in 2019, PSP Phase II engaged and tapped the power of leadership from parents, practice and policy innovators, and higher education leaders from college presidents to campus childcare directors. Building on PSP’s growing field-level momentum, trusted relationships, and track record, our work is an explicit, unwavering, and unapologetic call to action for parent’s postsecondary success and economic mobility. Now we move into Phase III of our effort, where we are at a moment of change and possibility which requires a brighter focus on racial and gender equity while centering families in solutions. Even considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ascend saw significant success and codification of supports for student parents.

Qualified candidates must demonstrate impeccable attention to detail, superior organizational skills, exceptional verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to flourish in a fast-paced environment. Experience with operational systems such as Salesforce, Excel, and Outlook is essential. Critical thinking skills are also essential, as is the ability to exercise good judgment in a variety of situations.  This position reports to the Associate Director, Postsecondary Success for Parents. Qualified candidates must bring superior commitment and skills to strategic thinking, planning, and teamwork. Ascend operates with a core set of values – agility, boldness, creativity, determination, and excellence.

The Program Associate will be part of a high-performing team of over twenty-five Ascenders. The core PSP team includes four: the Associate Director, Program Manager, Senior Communications Associate and the selected candidate.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Essential duties and responsibilities are as follows.  Other responsibilities may be added as necessary.

Research, Communications, and Program Support

  • Research and summarize briefing materials for relevant meetings, conferences, and events;
  • Research and analyze issues of interest for PSP reports, briefs, or other needs; showcases specialized knowledge and/or functional areas skills and experience.
  • Work with Associate Director and Program Manager to support convenings and events as well as logistical and administrative tasks;
  • Act as co-lead of Ascend’s PSP Parent Advisors cohort, in which Ascend engages a group of current student parents to become strong internal and external advocates on issues surrounding postsecondary success for students with dependents;
  • Serve as first point of contact for outside inquires. Handle written, telephone, and internet requests for information; draft, edit, and produce correspondence as required, including correspondence that is sometimes confidential;
  • Develop dynamic PowerPoint presentations upon request;
  • Manage relationships with assigned Ascend stakeholders and/or policy partners;
  • Take meeting notes and prepare and disseminate follow-up materials;
  • Prioritize conflicting needs; handle matters expeditiously, proactively, and follow-through on projects to successful completion, often with deadline pressures.
  • Work closely with all members of the Ascend team to identify areas of opportunity and integration related to postsecondary success and workforce development, racial and gender equity, and family voice.
  • Provides problem-solving recommendations and makes proactive suggestions to strengthen programs and Ascend's work overall, ex, recommending speakers, suggesting convening design approaches, and ways to streamline processes; and
  • Strong external Ascend ambassador and relationship builder.

Centralized Team Responsibilities

  • Support program staff in maintaining organized electronic and hard copy filing systems;
  • Support program staff in maintaining a contacts database and quality control of data entered by other staff; 
  • Prepare and submit RFPs for invoices that have been reviewed by the program staff managing contracts and vendor relationships, and liaise with accounting department to ensure timely payments;
  • Work with program and policy staff to support tracking of technical assistance efforts;
  • Assist with data collection and synthesis for submission to Ascend evaluator and for inclusion in grant reports;
  • Assumes responsibility for high-quality deliverables and sound resource management, ex. builds strong relationships with vendors and recommends ways to use resources wisely for convenings, etc;
  • Provide logistical support for briefings, forums, roundtables, and other convenings;
  • Participate in various planning and budget processes as necessary;
  • Identify opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of the program and implement improvements as directed.

Knowledge, Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred; at least three years of experience in administrative, logistics, and research support, preferably in the nonprofit sector;
  • Familiarity and interest with postsecondary policy and/or practice a positive, especially barriers to completion for Ascend populations of interests – student parents (specifically);  students of color, students who are low-income, first-generation students, adults, experience in workforce development (generally)
  • Strong interest in and passion for economic and social justice issues;
  • Excellent computer skills required, specifically, expertise with: Salesforce CRM; Microsoft Outlook (including managing multiple, complex calendars); Microsoft Excel (including creation and maintenance of complex spreadsheets); Microsoft PowerPoint (including development of dynamic PowerPoint presentations); Microsoft Word; virtual engagement platforms such as Zoom; Sharepoint/Google Drive file management; and use of project management platforms such as, Asana or others;
  • Superior attention to detail and ability to manage multiple tasks;
  • Experience establishing organizational systems to improve efficiency and functioning in a changing environment;
  • Strong customer service orientation: patience, listening, resourcefulness, responsiveness, and attention to detail;
  • Ability to work with diverse audiences and proven ability to effectively interface with senior-level executives;
  • Experience meeting deadlines while balancing multiple projects, including calendar management, travel arrangements, and event planning coordination;
  • Strong, demonstrable writing and editing skills;
  • Creative problem-solving skills and professional and polished interpersonal skills; and
  • A desire to learn, sense of humor, flexibility, and resourcefulness.

Level of Authority:

  • Non-supervisory position
  • No budget authority

The Institute has implemented a mandatory COVID vaccination policy for all employees who will work at one of our physical locations, attend any of our in-person events or travel on behalf of the Institute. Staff unable to be vaccinated may request an exemption under certain circumstances.

The Aspen Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer and complies with all District and federal laws. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or protected veteran or disabled status and will not be discriminated against.

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