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 Officer

Department: ASCEND
Location: Washington, DC

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.

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 approach – focusing on children and the adults in their lives together – 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 and well-being 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.

The Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship is Ascend’s signature leadership development program. When it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty and making a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families, we bet on well-connected, visionary, courageous leaders to get the job done. The Ascend Fellowship is an investment in leaders with “quantum leap” ideas and have the influence to shift thinking, bridge divides, and build relationships over time. We are committed to building a pipeline of diverse leaders positioned to chart a bold new path for children and families by:

  • Influencing policy, practice, philanthropy, and research
  • Building political will and sustained funding for equitable access and outcomes
  • Elevating and amplifying narrative and voices of champions for children and families to influence public discourse and catalyze action
  • Collaborating to increase the impact of the child and family serving leaders and field with a focus on equity

Basic Function:

Ascend has an abundance of compelling content from the Ascend Fellowship and other leadership development efforts. This includes stories, solutions, and proof points of problem-solving, innovation and success. We are seeking a Communications Officer who will significantly increase the visibility and influence of the Ascend Fellowship program and the impact and stories of Ascend Fellows, including the growing alumni network. The Communications Officer will capture, package, and disseminate the breakthroughs and results achieved by our Fellows and the policy and community wins they deliver. The Communications Officer will develop and deepen relationships and partnerships in our target audiences (policy, practice, philanthropy and media). Working closely with Ascend’s Fellowship team and the Morgridge Communicator in Residence, the Communications Officer will both create and adapt content to reach more audiences and build momentum behind the ideas and strategies.

Candidates must have proven ability to break through the noise, strong instincts, and the ability to respond rapidly. Excellent communications and a passion to amplify stories of champions for children, families, and equity are a must. The Communications Officer must be ready to create and activate multi-faceted media tools and channels creatively and strategically. The position requires someone who leads from an equity and excellence perspective and understands the critical role of communications to drive policy, system, and mindset change. They will be curious, ask probing questions that get to the heart of the matter, be solutions-focused, and value the experience and resilience of families. The ideal Communications Officer should be wired to “look around the corner” for opportunities and potential challenges and revel in working with diverse, mission-driven leaders in the field, individually and collectively. A commitment to social justice, racial and gender equity, and respect for lived experience is expected.

The Communications Manager will join a high-performing team of 20 at Ascend at the Aspen Institute and will be a core part of the Fellowship team, which is a subset of 8 staff. The Manager will work closely with the Aspen Institute and Ascend communications teams and consultants as well as communications counterparts within Fellow’s organizations and key funding partners. The Manager will draw on the intellectual and convening resources and multi-media platform of the Aspen Institute to expand the conversation around solutions for families with low incomes and advance practical new ideas and systemic shifts to serve children and their families more effectively.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Document, create stories, amplify and accelerate the impact, innovation and influence of Ascend

Working closely with the Morgridge Communicator in Residence, Associate Director for Leadership and Design, and the Ascend Communications team

  • Increase visibility and influence of Ascend Fellowship and individual Fellows;
  • Develop narrative and storytelling capacity with effective engagement of Fellows and additional partners, including Network, policy, and funding partners;
  • Identify, craft, and disseminate written and multimedia products to highlight the impact of Ascend Fellows and other leaders and advance practice and policy solutions for children and families with low incomes;
  • Develop a strong narrative strategy that showcases Ascend’s investments in leadership and the results achieved for children and families;
  • Manage effective consultant relationships to make effective use of resources and deliver high-quality contributions to help achieve the Fellowship team’s strategic communications goals;
  • Provide technical assistance to Ascend Fellows in strategic communications and storytelling;
  • Help frame and disseminate important field resources to advance thought leadership and innovation in the field;
  • Develop influential media and communication outlet relationships and partnerships;
  • Work closely with all members of the Ascend team to gather material and identify opportunities to highlight Ascend Fellows and other bodies of work as appropriate;

· Develop and edit materials, including for Ascend convenings and publications;

· Serve as primary content driver and do-er for Fellowship high-quality website and social media content on relevant issues as needed;

· Develop and maintain communications, audience, and impact tracking systems;

· Develop talking points, briefing materials, and draft op-eds as needed.

Learning and Knowledge Management

· Contribute to team-wide learning and knowledge management about ways to successfully communicate to amplify the work and build momentum;

· Contribute to Ascend Fellowship program design and delivery, especially in narrative curriculum;

· Identify and implement opportunities to leverage Ascend cross-program policy/systems impact, innovation, products, etc.

· Identify opportunities to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of Ascend’s communications operations and systems.

Knowledge, Education, and Experience:

  • Exceptional communications competency, creativity, and continued growth and effectiveness;
  • Minimum of 5-7 years of journalism, digital media, film, and/or other related narrative or strategic communications experience with a track record of accomplishment;
  • Communications savvy and tenacity: track record in high-impact, strategic communications and narrative development, including strong writing and editing skills and proven ability to engage audiences from public, private, and nonprofit sectors;
  • Demonstrated digital and multi-media experience;
  • Thrives in big picture possibility and strategy and can hold the details needed for high-quality execution;
  • Proven ability to engage, inspire, and influence diverse leaders and communities of color and transcend divisive fault lines;
  • Proven project planning and high-quality execution skills;
  • Entrepreneurial acumen and drive, ability to see and respond to opportunities to strengthen and/or course correct to increase impact;
  • Conscientious colleague who can be counted on to follow-through, close the loop, and deliver high quality work at speed;
  • Excellent computer skills and presentation talent, including Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office Suite;
  • Thrive in high performing, intellectually rich environment and as part of a collaborative team;
  • Commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion; and
  • Willingness and ability to travel.

To Apply

Visit our career page at Work at the Aspen Institute | The Aspen Institute and follow the instructions for uploading your cover letter, communication sample, and resume. All interested applicants must submit all three: cover letter, work sample, and resume. Cover letter should highlight applicant’s qualifications and share why this exceptional opportunity is a strong fit. The communications sample is an opportunity to show versus tell about a candidate’s work. The sample can be a relevant article, case study, interview, video, or surprise us.

Applications without resume, cover letter, and sample of work will not be considered.

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 have the ability to meet the regular attendance policy of the Aspen Institute.

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