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 Strategic Operations

Department: Human Resources
Location: Washington, DC
Salary: $160,000 - $175,000 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 People and Culture team focuses on all aspects of the talent life-cycle and the employee experience at the Aspen Institute. We ensure that the organization has people in the right roles, with the right tools and resources to accomplish the organization’s mission.  Additionally, we partner with employees at all levels across the organization to ensure a culture of inclusion, valuing diversity, collaboration, equity, and personal development to ensure a healthy environment in which to grow and contribute. The People and Culture team facilitates all aspects of traditional human resources, as well as talent management, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and organizational learning and development.

Role Overview

As the Director of People and Strategic Operations at the Aspen Institute, you will create, hone, and implement people strategies that foster success across all aspects of the employee experience, with input and collaboration of Institute leaders and team members organization-wide, as well as other members of the People and Culture team. Reporting to Aspen’s Vice President, People and Culture, you will work as both an expert strategist as well as an exemplary people and project manager. You will lead and supervise a highly experienced team of 3 who lead operations that relate to total compensation, payroll, employee benefits strategy, compliance, human resources technology, employee relations and workplace policies. In addition, you will be a primary partner in all aspects of employee relations, supporting and coaching leaders and team members across all levels of our ~600 person organization.

The ideal candidate has comprehensive experience in all aspects of human resources and talent operations and a keen eye toward crafting innovative policies and practices that support the employee experience at all levels of an organization. You will be an excellent manager of people and projects in a decentralized environment and should be excited by the opportunity to lead and support the integration of ongoing change management efforts. Finally, you will bring a strong talent development and coaching orientation, rooted in active listening, empathy, and learning, to your interactions with all team members..

This role is based in our Washington, DC office, with the opportunity to work from home several days a week. As a key member of the People and Culture leadership team, you will have excellent partners, including our DEI Director and Director of Talent and Organization Development, while serving team members at both the enterprise level as well as across our decentralized program teams. 

Key Responsibilities:

People Operations & Strategy (50%)

  • Partner with VP, People and Culture and other key leaders in the deployment and continued optimization of a comprehensive people strategy to drive the Institute’s development and satisfaction of its workforce

  • Oversee Aspen’s compensation and benefits programs, ensuring flawless execution and elevating opportunities to improve our offerings, including leave management

  • Conduct an annual audit of our roles and ensure we are closely monitoring compensation and benefits as well as adjusting for market trends

  • Lead the administration of the Institute’s comprehensive employee health and benefits plans, following trends to ensure we offer the most attractive benefits to recruit and retain employees

  • Administer and manage all legal workplace compliance policies and filings, including applicable labor laws, wages compliance, applicable labor laws, EEOC planning, Affirmative Action planning and support  (filings, data collection, signage, etc.)

  • Collaborate with Risk, Legal, and Workplace Services professionals to establish and implement Institute People policies and practices that are fit for purpose and aligned with our core values

  • Oversee the implementation of a best-in-class onboarding experience for new hires and create practices for optimizing offboarding

  • Provide guidance and assist in the implementation of program restructures, workforce planning, and staff modeling

  • Coach and advise our most senior leaders, as well as our early and mid-career professionals, ensuring the People and Culture team is seen as advocates and champions of all team members and balancing the needs of the broader institute and its many team members

  • Serve as a champion for the Institute’s Wellness program

 People Relations and Strategic Advising (30%)

  • Act as a trusted advisor, coach, and consultant for leaders and team members across the Institute. Support the creation of programs and strategies to improve leadership capability and team effectiveness

  • Nurture a culture of diversity and inclusion. Work with DEI Director and People and Culture team to support diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, ensuring those principles are interwoven into our employee lifecycle, trainings, and other interactions

  • Employee relations - Act as the primary point of contact for workplace issues for all employees; liaise with Legal team and external counsel on sensitive issues

  • Work with VP of People and Culture to develop, enhance and administer the Institute's framework, philosophy, model, and process for employee compensation; educate employees and managers on the model

  • Train and counsel management in People processes such as promotions, compensation management, growth conversations, performance management and delivering feedback

Team Leadership and Management (20%)

  • Work with VP of People and Culture to build and manage a People team that grows with the organization over time as we continue to work on our role as partners across the organization

  • Collaborate with People team members to develop and implement policies and procedures that represent innovative, best practices for the Institute, including:

    • Provide direct support across the team on People related issues, as well as support team professional development and engagement

    • Continue to build, lead and develop the People team as a partner and subject matter expert to ensure alignment with the Institute and evolving opportunities and challenges

    • Provide clear, meaningful direction and motivation towards objectives, as well as the necessary resources to be successful

    • Mentor, develop and coach team members to optimal performance and satisfaction

    • Supervise and partner with recruitment professionals to support efforts to attract, develop and retain our talented workforce; manage work-visa sponsorship process

  • Partner with VP, People and Culture and Institute leadership to develop and manage the People and Culture budget

Desired Qualifications:

  • You have 10+ years of progressive leadership experience in People/HR operations, preferably as a generalist, people leader, business partner, and/or human capital consultant; SHRM, SPHR or equivalent designations strongly preferred

  • You have at least 5 years of people management experience, with experience coaching and supporting direct and indirect reports at the senior and junior levels

  • You are as comfortable with shaping strategy as you are with “rolling up your sleeves” to manage the day-to-day operations of a dynamic people function

  • You are culturally aware, value diversity, equity, and inclusion, and have examples throughout your career demonstrating these values

  • You are experienced at and excited to collaborate with leaders and staff on challenging topics, and you are also able to give and  receive feedback graciously

  • You have a documented track record of discretion, relationship management and interpersonal skills

  • You have a demonstrated track record of elevating employee experience through policies and team interactions

  • You are an excellent project manager who possesses the ability to manage and balance multiple tasks and competing priorities in a fast-paced environment

  • You have a working knowledge of HRIS and benefits platforms

  • You have experience working with a geographically dispersed workforce

  • You have strong attention to detail, adherence to deadlines, and excellent follow through

  • You are able to think critically and proactively identify potential risks and create mitigation strategies

This position is located in Washington, DC.  Employees will be required to work on-site at least 2 days per week.

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 HRSupport@aspeninstitute.org or call (202) 736-5800.

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