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.

Director of People and Strategy

Department: EDUCATION
Location: Washington, DC

About Us:

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.

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.

The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program improves public education by inspiring, informing, and influencing education leaders across policy and practice, with an emphasis on achieving equity for students of color and students from low-income families. Aspen Education supports leaders at multiple levels, from elected officials and their staffers, to state chiefs and their cabinets, to networks of urban superintendents and their teams.

About the Role:

The Director of People and Strategy is a new role on the Education & Society Program team, representing a deepened investment in cultivating a healthy, inclusive, and productive team culture; growing and developing each individual contributor on our team; and connecting this work explicitly to the programís strategies for improving public education outcomes. The Director of People and Strategy will serve on the programís leadership team and will supervise teammates responsible for finance/budget/grant reporting, meeting design and implementation, and office administration/HR.

This role will be responsible for planning internal learning activities for the team and with individuals, connecting professional growth goals with the programís strategy and administering the internal professional development budget and retaining/supervising consultants to assist in DEI and other team-culture-building activities. The Director of People and Strategy will bring demonstrated commitment to inclusive leadership, proven ability to build and maintain strong relationships and advance a healthy team culture, combined with deep knowledge of the education sector and ideas for increasing and influence and impact of the Education & Society Program in the field.

The Director of People and Strategy will partner closely with and report to the Executive Director to lead the team in centering strategic priorities and continuously improving knowledge-management and learning systems to ensure activities are aligned to the programís goals.

The Director of People and Strategy will project our resource needs and serve as a strategic thought partner to the Executive Director regarding fundraising, stewardship of relationships with foundations and prospecting new grants, and engagement with the broader Aspen Institute community (e.g., other policy programs, public programs, senior leadership). The Director of People and Strategy will facilitate leadership team meetings to ensure programmatic alignment to the strategy in a fiscally responsible, equitable, and inclusive way.

Essential Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Team Culture

  • In collaboration with Executive Director and other Directors, develop and execute overarching strategy for continuously improving belonging and inclusion, joy, and purpose within the Education & Society Program team. 
  • Lead an annual cycle of internal team climate assessment, reflection, and improvement  through the development of aligned professional development, training, and activities.
  • Lead Programís diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; identifying programming, readings, resources, and tools to support staff and Program growth, including managing and liaising with consultants where appropriate.
  • Chair the programís social committee.
  • Take lead in designing annual Aspen Education Program staff retreat.

Strategy Alignment, Knowledge Management and Internal Learning

  • Oversee annual planning process and multi-year strategic planning; develop and maintain strategic goals tracker.
  • Refine and oversee ongoing progress-monitoring and tracking of impact regarding program goals and grant deliverables; facilitate periodic internal team meetings to assess progress and determine next steps/opportunities for improvement.
  • Design and administer bi-annual external stakeholder survey to gather evidence of impact, progress-monitor our goals, and solicit critical feedback; manage internal process for analyzing/interpreting data and determining changes to program activities.

Budgeting and Fund Development

  • Supervise/support Senior Associate for Finance in developing and managing budget proposals that align financial resources with program strategy.
  • Lead creation of annual budget for submission to Aspen Institute leadership, in consultation with broader team.
  • Conduct monthly and quarterly budget check-ins with Financial Services Unit and programís Senior Associate for Finance.
  • Partner with Executive Director to plan and execute philanthropic engagement strategy in service of programís goals, including researching prospects, developing project goals and budgets, drafting proposals, and engaging with funding partners individually and in partnership with Executive Director; supervise development consultant if/when retained.

Talent Strategy

  • Oversee and improve systems for recruiting/hiring, onboarding, and ongoing performance management, including process for setting individual growth goals and calibrating performance expectations and promotion criteria across the team.
  • Serve as lead Aspen Education liaison to Aspen Institute Human Resources, managing and/or supervising recruitment and onboarding experience for Aspen Institute Education & Society Program staff.
  • Oversee and administer annual staff professional development budget, including alignment of allocations to individual and program goals.


  • Supervise operations/administration professionals: Senior Associate for Finance, Meetings Manager, and Executive Assistant, and any additional administration/operations staff and consultants, as needed.
  • Lead continuous improvement of systems and processes for internal collaboration (e.g., flow and cycle of internal meetings, protocols for after-action assessments and debriefs, etc.).
  • Oversee improvements and adherence to the Programís Operations Manual.
  • Draft and submit quarterly reports and board report to Aspen Institute leadership.

Other responsibilities may be added as necessary.

About You:

  • 10-15 years of experience in leading strategic talent, culture, and/or operations initiatives in the education sector with demonstrated success, such as designing and managing people functions including hiring, onboarding processes and performance management; creating measures for progress monitoring; and/or administration of fund development and related project management.
  • Culturally aware individual with a commitment to equity and healthy team culture and proven ability to implement best organizational practices for creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive work culture. Strong orientation toward collaboration and demonstrated success as a relationship builder, with strong interpersonal skills and ability to build productive working relationships with senior leaders and less experienced staff members on a small team.
  • Visionary and culturally aware individual with the ability to drive change and implement best organizational practices for creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work culture; strong preference for candidates who have track record of leading, managing or supporting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at organizations.
  • Knowledge of the public education sector, including the major players, policy trends, and controversial issues. Deep belief in the power of learning and the mission of public education and that there exist opportunities to dramatically improve public education outcomes, especially for students of color and students from low-income families.
  • Skilled at addressing challenging, dynamic situations, listening for understanding underlying concerns and root causes, and using a broad repertoire of coaching and management skills to influence staff members to improve relationships, ways of working, and performance including to advance equity and inclusion; skilled at managing up, down, and sideways (i.e., with peers).
  • Understanding of adult learning principles to design and implement staff professional development.
  • Experience managing budgets in a non-profit or public agency and experience with philanthropic fundraising strongly preferred (e.g., conceptualizing funding proposals that connect programmatic goals with fundersí priorities, grant writing, managing budgets, and stewarding foundation relationships) or comparable experiences and a demonstrated commitment to growing these skills.

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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