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 Associate

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.

Position Description:

The Communications Associate will support identifying, synthesizing and disseminating multi-sector policy and practice solutions that advance child and family economic, educational and health well-being and mobility. In this position, the Associate will develop and implement strategic communications that highlight relevant data, best and promising practices, and timely opportunities and barriers at the state and federal level. Content areas include will focus on postsecondary education, workforce development, economic supports and assets, and health and well-being. S/he will be support Ascend’s communications strategy and execution, including web and social media strategy as well as communications to target audiences in policy, practice, research and philanthropy. S/he will be responsible for maintaining relationships with media outlets to educate journalists on issues facing families with low incomes and Ascend’s work. S/he will liaise closely with Aspen Institute communications team to leverage the Institute’s communications platforms, promote Ascend’s work and contribute to the Aspen Institute’s overall goal to address inequality and advance opportunity.

The ideal candidates must possess content expertise in the area of postsecondary education and training, family economic security and well-being and have a proven ability to take initiative, leverage external expertise and partnerships, cultivate strong relationships and provide strategic analysis.

This position is well suited for a mission driven, dynamic, high energy and highly productive professional with good judgment and instincts. Ideal candidates should be intellectually curious with strong analytical skills. S/he must be gifted at working with diverse experts and members of the Ascend Network engaged in postsecondary success of students to identify and amplify innovations, solutions and lessons learned in a way that will drive positive change for families with low incomes. Candidate must also possess strong interpersonal skills that foster strong connections with senior practice and policy leaders in the field.

The Communications Associate will advance Ascend’s goals using all facets of public outreach, social media, policy efforts, external communications, event planning and execution, and media relations. Successful candidates will bring outstanding writing and analytical skills, and experience blending policy and communications strategies. Working closely with leadership, s/he will be a critical leader in developing and advancing Ascend’s agenda.

Ascend seeks a passionate and dynamic self-starter with creative ideas and strong attention to detail to both strengthen and support policy and communication efforts and to help launch important new areas of additional work over time.

This position reports to the Communications Strategist and Manager and will work close with Vice Assistant Director for Postsecondary Success for Parents. S/he will join a high-performing team of 14. Qualified candidates must bring superior commitment and skills in policy advancement, strategic thinking, writing, planning and teamwork. Ascend operates with a core set of values – agility, boldness, creativity, determination, and excellence. Candidates should possess both commitment and experience that are reflective of Ascend’s core values and its Strategic Framework.


  • Develop and disseminate timely, high-quality written materials such as memos and briefing packets, reports, news releases, press kit documents, fact sheets, bios, and related correspondence that are of interest to policymakers, practitioners and philanthropy at state and national levels
  • Manage, maintain, and disseminate media/“influence” placements (articles, blogs, etc.)
  • Create, respond and manage media calls and interviews and to general public inquiries
  • Manage production and disseminate Ascend products, including policy reports, info and factsheets, press kits and other written materials
  • Perform research (fact checking, media information, etc.)
  • Edit photos and video
  • Manage and/or support the planning and execution of Ascend convenings
  • Coordinate with Aspen Institute communications team to leverage the Institute’s platforms, including the Aspen Institute Magazine, Journal of Ideas, 5 Best Ideas of the Day, public programs, and other opportunities

Website and Social Media Responsibilities:

  • Key strategist for social media efforts
  • Maintain and manage content on various social media and online platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, with the support of the program coordinator for communications
  • Maintain Ascend website, soliciting blogs and updated content from relevant team members and Network Partners
  • Coordinate with Aspen Institute communications team on social media strategy to complement and increase the impact of existing outreach
  • Draft and disseminate monthly e-newsletter

Shared Responsibilities:

  • Actively participate in program design and strategic planning for Ascend
  • Contribute to team-wide learning and knowledge management, including drawing on and contributing to other Aspen Institute programs and resources
  • Identify opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of the program


  • 3+ years integrated communications experience, clear results and advancement required. 
  • Knowledge of innovative strategies and tools for media relations 
  • Social media and web savvy and experience working with wide range of social media tools
  • Entrepreneurial acumen and drive, ability to see and respond to opportunities to strengthen and/or course correct program plan to increase impact
  • Ability to work autonomously and with a small team
  • Attention to detail and ability to manage multiple tasks
  • Awareness, knowledge, sensitivity and ability to build relationships with people of all backgrounds and communications skills
  • Graphic design skills and website development and maintenance a plus
  • Excellent computer skills, particularly Microsoft Office Suite, PPT, Salesforce, and Internet research
  • Strong organizational skills; the ability to plan and follow through with staff and a variety of constituencies in consistent, high-quality manner
  • Thrives in high performing environment and passion for making a difference in the lives of low-income families
  • Good interpersonal skills, including a desire to learn 
  • Eager to travel to and engage with Ascend partners and innovators in the field
  • A sense of humor and willingness to be flexible    

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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