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.

Communications Manager

Department: ASCEND
Location: Washington, DC
Salary: $85,000 - $95,000 per year

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. Together with families and partners, we co-create and elevate innovative two-generation (2Gen) approaches to forge pathways to educational success and economic mobility for both children and the adults in their lives. In 2010, our Executive Director and Aspen Institute Vice President Anne Mosle founded Ascend to reimagine the ways we think about and invest in leadership to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Ascend has since propelled a national movement. Through the visionary leadership of more than 100 Ascend Fellows and 470 Ascend Network partners, 2Gen approaches are now being advanced in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Ireland and Rwanda. Together, the leaders in this growing movement are transforming systems, policies and practices that reach more than 10 million families.

Position Description:

As part of the Ascend at the Aspen Institute Communications team, the Communications Manager will be responsible for developing and implementing integrated campaigns to inform and inspire influentials, innovators and decision makers working across economic, education, health and human service sectors in policy, practice, and philanthropy.

In this role, the Communications Manager will primarily focus on implementing a strategic communication plan for Ascendís Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative (PSP). Since 2018, PSP has been a key driver in building an expansive, nationally-coordinated effort to advance the development of innovative solutions that provide greater postsecondary access, affordability, and success for parents. We focus on the more than four million student parents enrolled in postsecondary pathways. We believe student parentsí leadership and lived expertise should inform and strengthen higher educationís equity agenda. 

The Communications Manager will be responsible for the project planning and implementation of PSP communications-related deliverables.

The successful candidate will possess outstanding writing and analytical skills. Ascend seeks a passionate and dynamic self-starter with creative ideas and strong attention to detail to both strengthen and support policy and communication efforts and help launch important new areas of work. 

The Communications Manager will work closely with diverse leaders across the Ascend community. This position reports to the Senior Director of Communications and will work closely with Ascendís Associate Director, Postsecondary Success for Parents.  The Communications Manager will join a high-performing team of three communications professionals and over 25 Ascenders. 


  • Implement a strategic communications plan focused on priority audiences for PSP with measurable goals and objectives 

  • Help manage Editorial Calendar for Ascend-wide communications deliverables generally and PSP deliverables specifically

  • Manage development, promotion and dissemination of PSP communications deliverables such as a briefs, factsheets, a second season of the ď1 in 5Ē podcast, and more

  • Identify, craft, and disseminate written and multimedia products to highlight the impact of Ascend, the Ascend Network, and other leaders and advance practice and policy solutions for children and families with low incomes

  • Manage media relations including monitoring targeted trade media covering higher education issues as well local, state, and national media related to family economic mobility.

  • Support PSP team members with public speaking requests, strategic presentations, and op-eds

  • Curate photos and video library

  • Curate storybank to capture partner work and use in various formats from speeches to collateral

  • Coordinate with Aspen Institute communications team to leverage the Instituteís platforms, including the Journal of Ideas, 5 Best Ideas of the Day, public programs, and other opportunities

  • Help maintain project plans and manage relevant consultant contracts

  • Help manage Ascendís digital content and channels, with primary responsibility for PSPís digital presence, to maximize engagement and impact with priority stakeholders 

Shared Responsibilities:

  • Actively participate in program and convening design and strategic planning for Ascend

  • Contribute to effective engagement and stewardship of current and potential philanthropic partners

  • Contribute to team-wide learning and knowledge management, including drawing on and contributing to other Aspen Institute programs and resources

  • Identify opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of Ascend

  • Functional supervision and collaboration with cross-functional team members


  • Five or more years integrated communications experience in agency work, journalism, marketing, digital media, and/or other related or strategic communications experience with a track record of accomplishment

  • At least 2 years of experience working in post-secondary education/higher education arena, ideally working with senior level stakeholders, e.g. college presidents, deans, etc. 

  • Subject matter expertise expertise in journalism, public policy, public relations, marketing communications and/or political campaigns

  • Expertise supporting and advancing policy efforts at the local, state, and federal level desirable

  • Outstanding writing skills with a focus on detail and accuracy

  • Graphic design skills a plus

  • Social media and web savvy and experience working with wide range of social media tools

  • Entrepreneurial acumen and drive, ability to see and respond to opportunities to strengthen and/or course correct program plan to increase impact

  • Attention to detail and ability to manage multiple tasks

  • Awareness, knowledge, sensitivity, and ability to build relationships with people of all backgrounds and communications skills

  • Excellent computer skills, particularly Microsoft Office Suite, Mailchimp, Salesforce, and Internet research

  • Strong organizational skills; the ability to plan and follow through with staff and a variety of constituencies in consistent, high-quality manner

  • Thrives in high performing environment and has a passion for making a difference in the lives of families

  • Good interpersonal skills, including a desire to learn 

  • A sense of humor and willingness to be flexible

To Apply:

Visit our career page at and follow the instructions for uploading your cover letter and resume.  All interested applicants must submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample. Cover letter should highlight the applicant's specific qualifications for this position. Applications without cover letter and writing sample may not receive full consideration.

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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