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 Manager - College Excellence Program

Department: CEP
Location: Washington, DC

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Marylandís Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners. 

The College Excellence Program (CEP) aims to identify and replicate practices and policies that significantly improve college student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, the American Talent Initiative, and other highly visible national projects, the College Excellence Program works to improve collegesí capacity to achieve high levels of success for all students, and to eliminate disparities in postsecondary attainment and social mobility for low-income and minority students. Our work focuses on improving higher education in four areas: ensuring high-quality learning for all students, increasing completion rates, improving post-completion success in transfer or the labor market, and increasing equity in educational outcomes for individuals from historically marginalized and underserved groups. Learn more about our work at 

The College Excellence Program staff is a diverse team of driven and energetic professionals who share a commitment to increasing access to and success in higher education. We are motivated by the power of education to change lives, and we work hard to have measurable impact while also pushing ourselves to learn constantly, collaborate and innovate, and take joy from our work. The Aspen Institute's DC headquarters provides a vibrant setting in which to pursue these goals, and we benefit from a rich array of expert panels, discussion groups, and lectures that occur throughout the year.

About the Role: 

We are looking for an energetic Program Manager to oversee the research, content development, and project management for 2-3 significant CEP initiatives. While CEPís work is dynamic and always growing, the selected candidate will initially focus on two high-visibility projects:

  •  Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence: Every other year, CEP awards $1 million to the U.S. community colleges that have done the most to ensure high and improving levels of student success, and uses the knowledge gained from the Prize to help colleges nationwide.
  •  American Talent Initiative: CEP co-leads this program, through which more than 100 colleges and universities with high graduation rates have committed to substantially expanding access and opportunity for talented, lower-income students. 

CEPís Program Managers are exceptional analysts who conduct applied research to garner insights of value to the field, strong writers who can develop original content and work collaboratively with CEP colleagues and external partners to edit and refine public-facing materials, and proven project managers skilled in balancing competing priorities to deliver high-quality results.

The ideal candidate is curious, eager to learn and solve problems, and driven by making an impact. S/he has experience mobilizing teams around shared goals, a track record of collaborating with a complex range of stakeholders, and some knowledge of higher education. S/he also has demonstrated effectiveness as a manager and can align organizational activity and resources to a high-level strategy, leading a project team to deliver high-quality outcomes on time and within budget while simultaneously keeping an eye on the big picture. CEP's Program Managers grow professionally through collaboration with senior staff and exposure to thought leaders in higher education, as well as through the many opportunities the position offers for deep learning about strategies for increasing postsecondary access, equity, and success.  

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

The Program Manager will raise the bar for the quality and impact of our work through research, content development, and strategic project management. Specifically, the Program Manager will:

  • Manage projects on a tight timeline with a high level of attention to detail, quality, and professionalism.
  • Work side by side with partner organizations and other stakeholders with a focus on collaboration, engagement, outcomes, and quality of content and delivery.
  • Conduct applied research and qualitative/quantitative analysis to generate critical insights about effective strategies for improving student success and increasing equity and socioeconomic diversity in higher education.
  • Guide the development of clear, actionable content and tools to facilitate dissemination of insights to a range of audiences, including college leaders and practitioners and national higher education reform organizations.
  • Maintain close control of project budgets, including tracking and reporting on grant expenditures.
  • Facilitate effective input from colleagues and senior staff, manage and mentor junior program staff, and contribute to program-wide team-building and collaborative efforts.

Knowledge, Education, and Experience: 

  • Excellent project management skills, including a demonstrated ability to manage multiple projects with tight deadlines
  • A problem-solving orientation that drives towards quality
  • A proven collaborative demeanor: patience, great listening skills, resourcefulness, attention to detail, and a sense of humor
  • Professional knowledge of higher education
  • Graduate degree in higher education or a related field strongly preferred, or bachelorís degree and equivalent experience of at least five years in a related field with a track record of accomplishment and growth.
  • Ability to work productively with both internal teams and larger extended teams that include contractors and third-party partners, and ability to build relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including high-profile institutional and philanthropic leaders.

All applicants must submit the following to be considered for the position: 

1) A cover letter. CEP prefers cover letters that describe what motivates you and how you understand and relate to our mission, rather than a narrative version of your resume. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered.

2) Resume/CV.   

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. 

Candidate must have the ability to work under pressure and handle stress. Candidate must also be able to comply with the regular attendance policy of the Aspen Institute. 

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