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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 Manager, Ascend

Department: ASCEND
Location: Washington, DC
Salary: $82,000 - $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 the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations to build family economic prosperity and well-being. Ascend embraces a two-generation (2Gen) approach Ė focusing on children and the adults in their lives together Ė and is committed to centering gender and racial equity in our work. We believe that early childhood learning and care postsecondary education/employment pathways for parents, economic assets, social capital, and health, including mental health are the core elements that enable families to achieve their full potential. Ascend engages the perspectives, strengths, and resilience of families with low incomes to inform program design and policy development. 

This role is critical to managing Ascendís place-based work, primarily in LA County and New Mexico, as well as managing data collection, product development, and convening design for place-based 2Gen efforts and key initiatives as part of a grant with a national foundation. While the position is not time-bound, it is tied to a set of strategic deliverables for implementation over the course of 2022-24. The preferred candidate is located in the Washington, DC metro area.

Basic Function:  

The Program Manager is a critical position that will lead high-quality project management, research, design and implementation of convening strategy, research, and consultant management for Ascend, with a specific focus on a four-component project supported by a national funder. Ascend places high value on the art and details of curating an exceptional convening experience, from design to delivery, to achieving our mission. The Program Manager will strengthen and streamline systems that enable impeccable program delivery, such as supporting the design and outreach strategy for a landscape analysis of 2Gen approaches in New Mexico; engagement and learning opportunities for philanthropic organizations and leaders on 2Gen approaches; support of the development and structure of a learning community focused on surfacing research and evidence for 2Gen approaches; and managing the dissemination of key tools in priority places. Convenings are strategic programs that are designed with detail and intention to fuel the spirit and accelerate impact and increase visibility and partnerships in support of children and families. Landscape analysis and design includes research (qualitative and quantitative); interviews; demographic data; and surveys, and the program manager will support the development of this work alongside a group of consultants with expertise in key areas. This body of work contributes to Ascendís strategy of connecting and aligning efforts across sectors to seed new ideas, facilitate the scale of best and promising practice, and inspire innovation. In our convenings, programs, outreach, and tool development, we prioritize the experience and expertise of our Fellows, Network Partners, and other stakeholders. We seek to create high-touch, high-trust, and high-impact convenings, and these conditions apply to how we engage with our consultants and develop our resources and tools. Equity, diversity and inclusion are Ascend core principles and embedded throughout our work, including systems, convening, research, outreach, and consultant management.  

The Program Manager will possess excellent operational skills and be able to develop, manage, and strengthen systems that support Ascendís in-person and virtual programs, landscaping and research projects, communications systems, consultant management, and funder relationships.  

The Program Manager will be part of a high-performing team of 26 and growing. Within the project, they will be part of a current team of three-person team (Director of 2Gen Practice, program coordinator, plus Managing Director). 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. Critical thinking skills are essential, as is the ability to exercise good judgment and confidentiality. Candidates should possess commitment and experience that are reflective of Ascendís core values. Successful candidates will flourish as part of a team and be able to work independently with little or no supervision.   

Essential Duties and Responsibilities 

Research, Convening, and Program Support 

  • Support, manage, and implement overall project workplan and assessment strategy;

  • Implement and assess strategies, activities, and execute approximately 2 (two) place-based convenings focused on two-generation (2Gen) strategies for young parents with young children aligned with Ascendís goals and objectives;   

  • Manage landscape analysis of 2Gen strategies in New Mexico, including consultant, parent advisor, and planning committee relationships, grounded in efforts that advance racial and gender equity, and family voice;

  • Manage and support program coordinators and/or consultants who are focused on research, reports, and convenings to ensure high quality products and deliverables; 

  • Serve as a liaison and provide technical assistance to parent advisors, planning committee members, Ascend Network Partners, Ascend Fellows, and other external stakeholders;  

  • Support and provide logistics and strategic guidance to three additional key components of funder-supported project, including but not limited to: strategic convenings and research related to building research agenda for 2Gen approaches; funder outreach and convening; and 2Gen fund development and execution;

  • Prepare publications, tools, analysis, and other resources for practitioners, policymakers, and philanthropic audiences and the media; and 

  • Excellent analytical skills; proficiency in quantitative and qualitative methods with advanced training and research experience in one of the two is a plus. 

Shared Responsibilities: 

  • 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 the program. 

  • Participate in and contribute to Ascend ongoing growth to advance equity, diversity and inclusion internally and externally. 

Knowledge, Education and Experience: 

  • Five years of relevant experience in operations and event planning, with a track record of effective management, accomplishment, and growth;  

  • Excellent computer skills required, specifically with: Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel (including creation and maintenance of complex spreadsheets), Salesforce, Mailchimp, and project management software; 

  • Superior attention to and detail, and ability to manage multiple tasks; 

  • Demonstrated knowledge of and experience with managing consultants and/or vendors;

  • Experience and passion for establishing organizational systems to improve efficiency and functioning in a changing environment; 

  • Excellent customer service orientation: patience, listening, resourcefulness, responsiveness, and attention to detail; 

  • Demonstrated ability working effectively with diverse audiences and proven ability to effectively interface with senior-level executives; 

  • Experience meeting deadlines and exhibiting grace under pressure while balancing competing priorities; 

  • Conscientious colleague who can be counted on to follow-through, close the loop, and deliver high-quality work; 

  • demonstrable communications, outreach and engagement instincts and skills; 

  • Thrives in high performing, intellectually rich environment and as part of a team; 

  • Exceptional interpersonal skills, including a desire to learn; 

  • Ability to handle sensitive/confidential information and represent Leadership/Fellowship team with grace and professionalism. 

  • A desire to learn, sense of humor, flexibility, and resourcefulness; 

  • Commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion; 

  • Willingness and ability to travel. 

Level of Authority: 

  • Potential to be a supervisory position 

  • No budget authority 

Applications without resume and cover letter will not be considered.  

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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