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

Department: CEP
Location: Washington, DC

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.

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 research, content development, and project management. While CEPís work is dynamic and always growing, the selected candidate will initially have a primary focus on our Tackling Transfer project. Tackling Transfer aims to foster the conditions for scaled and measurable improvements in attainment rates for baccalaureate-seeking community college students, especially the large number of low-income students and students of color who begin education in the two-year sector. Tackling Transfer uses a comprehensive approach in three states Ė Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia Ė that incorporates policy, practice, leadership, research, and strategic communications, tailored to the contexts and goals of actors within each state.

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.

Ideal candidates are curious, eager to learn and solve problems, and driven by making an impact. They have experience mobilizing teams around shared goals, a track record of collaborating with a complex range of stakeholders, and some knowledge of higher education. They also have 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.
  • Serve as a critical backbone coordinator for partner organizations and other stakeholders with a focus on collaboration, engagement, outcomes, quality of content and delivery, and partnership health and effectiveness.
  • 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, and lead the development of impactful events and meetings, 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, delegate tasks across team members, 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

  1. 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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