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.

Executive Director, Socrates Program

Department: SOCRATES
Location: Washington, DC
Salary: $150,000 - $190,000 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.

The Aspen Institute seeks a new Executive Director for the Socrates Program. The Socrates Program provides a forum for emerging leaders from various professions to convene and explore contemporary issues through expert-moderated, text-based dialogue. Socrates also provides the opportunity for participants to enter a diverse professional network, and into the broader range of the Aspen Institute’s domestic and international programs. This position is based in Washington, DC; it is expected that the Executive Director will average 40% of their time in the office or with their team. 

The ideal candidate is intellectually curious, both broadly and deeply, and is an entrepreneurial, innovative, and ambitious team player who enjoys exploring contemporary issues and classic values; is dedicated to an inclusive experience with regards to ideology, race, ethnicity, and more; and can build a network of partners, funders, and participants who are aligned to the mission of Socrates and the Aspen Institute as detailed below.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

1. Fundraising and financial Management

  • Identify, develop, and maintain ongoing corporate and foundation relationships for fundraising purposes
  • Initiate and secure scholarship funds from internal Aspen sources; identify, recruit, and organize the selection—according to Institute prescribed criteria—of scholarship recipients for participation in Socrates seminars
  • Responsible for reviewing the budget and ensuring that the program operates within the budget guidelines

2. Content Development

  • Provide leadership in developing programming, marketing, and financial (including corporate sponsorship) plans in coordination with the EVP
  • Identify, invite, and work with seminar moderators to create seminar content, communications to include discussions of seminar content and direction, as well as syllabi, letters of agreement with moderators, timing and delivery of synopses and syllabi
  • Oversee the development and management of the Socrates website and other IT tools, including the timely posting of content, set-up of online registration and the online scholarship application, the expansion of the online community, and the timely updating of alumni and prospect databases.
  • Manage and develop international seminar offerings in collaboration with the Institute’s international partners and projects to broaden our world-wide market

3. Network building and program management

  • Support and manage a team of 3-5 staff
  • Promote active and broad participation by volunteers, including the Socrates Steering Committee.
  • Create broader ties within the Institute to coordinate strategy, programming and integration with the broader missions and activities of the Institute;
  • Expand the marketing programs, partnerships, and offer sponsorship opportunities for Socrates with prominent, intellectual outside entities, such as corporations and academic institutions
  • Expand networking and collaboration opportunities for Socrates participants to create ongoing interaction. Use web resources as well as regularly scheduled programs in selected cities.
  • Produce and expand a Socrates newsletter three times a year

Knowledge, Education and Experience:


  • 8-10 years relevant work experience or equivalent experience
  • Qualified candidates will have a track record of business development, strong organizational, communications, and problem-solving skills
  • Prior experience traveling/working with international counterparts is highly desired.
  • Availability for frequent domestic travel and limited international travel
  • Interest in and knowledge of current events, domestic and international affairs, and topical issues affecting diverse members of society
  • Familiarity with thought leaders and industry experts and willingness to work with colleagues to identify viable topics and moderators.
  • Demonstrated team player, attention to detail, and ability to successfully manage projects to completion
  • Confident public speaker

Primary Mission Accountabilities:

All Aspen Institute employees are expected to embody the Institute’s core mission, stated below. The primary aspects of the mission for which this position is held accountable are:

  • Highly visible example of the Aspen Institute’s culture of excellence
  • Advancing our mission through cooperative efforts
  • Pursue innovative and bold solutions

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues.

The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways:

  • Seminars, which help participants reflect on what they think makes a good society, thereby deepening knowledge, broadening perspectives, and enhancing their capacity to solve the problems leaders face.
  • Young-leader fellowships around the globe, which bring a selected class of proven leaders together for an intense multi-year program and commitment. The fellows become better leaders and apply their skills to significant challenges.
  • Policy programs, which serve as nonpartisan forums for analysis, consensus building, and problem solving on a wide variety of issues.
  • Public conferences and events for people to share ideas.

Anticipated Hiring Timeline and Practice: The position will be held open for three weeks before rolling interviews begin. It is expected that the final candidates will have 3-4 interviews, with an offer extended in March, and that the position will begin full-time in April or May of 2023. 

Applications will be kept confidential. It is highly encouraged that candidates interested in the position apply rather than seek to contact Aspen Institute staff directly. 

The Aspen Institute offers a generous benefits package including health, dental, vision, and prescription benefits, retirement benefits, and paid leave.

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.

Individuals needing an accommodation to complete the job application can contact or call (202) 736-1074.

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