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Senior Associate for Strategic Partnerships

Department: FORUM
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.

The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions & Opportunity Youth Forum

The Aspen Forum for Community Solutions (Aspen Forum) and its Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) were launched in July 2012 at the Aspen Institute. The mission of the Aspen Instituteís Forum for Community Solutions is to support community collaboration - including collective impact - that enables communities to effectively address their most pressing challenges.  The OYF is the first funding collaborative developed and led by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The goal of the OYF is two-fold: 1) to build strong evidence of success for utilizing the collective impact community collaboration strategy to build and deepen pathways that achieve better outcomes in education and employment for opportunity youth, and 2) to make the case for increased adoption of collective impact and other community-level collaborative strategies that lead to effective pathways as important models for community change and impact at scale. 

Aspen has established a national platform of 30 urban, rural, and tribal communities and has demonstrated the power and impact of applying a collaborative, systems approach to ensuring viable educational and career pathways for opportunity youth.  

Especially relevant to this position: The Senior Associate will lead on the following aspects of Aspen Forumís programmatic work: 1) explore and develop a body of work focused on community power building and equity including  civic engagement, advocacy and organizing  - documenting, developing lessons learned, convening and sharing stories of success in citizen led community solutions;  2) expand on our existing convening strategy  with funders focused on place-based philanthropy, building the permanent civic infrastructure for community change and collective impact with a focus on equity and community power building; 3) design and build a body of work focused on building philanthropic field practices that focus on community centered grantmaking;  and 4) design and refine a body of work focused on bringing an equity lens to our collective impact and civic engagement work.

The Aspen Forum seeks a dynamic leader to help further develop these projects and to potentially help launch important new areas of additional work over time. The Aspen Forum needs additional support with resource development to design the new areas of work identified above. In order to maintain our existing robust revenue position all members of our team engage in resource development.

Basic Function:

The Senior Associate for Strategic Partnerships will take on a multi-faceted role with the Aspen Forum. The Senior Associate will need to manage outside contractors Ė especially in the areas of knowledge development and communications. The Senior Associate will engage in partnership management with key national partners and networks - including funders - as well as engage in resource development. A key aspect of this role is to work with the Managing Director and Executive Director of the Aspen Forum in the development and execution of new programming and new partnerships for the Aspen Forum.

This is not a new position within the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and is instead, a position that has been revised and updated to reflect the responsibilities of a Senior Associate. Several changes to this position include the following: 1) formal management of staff and/or consultants; 2) new and increased responsibilities to design programming and create/grow new bodies of work; and 3) formal budget management and authority.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:


  • Manage and oversee several collaborative partnerships; for example, this position manages the partnership with the Collective Impact Forum and Philanthropy Forward.
  • Manage key consultants and staff as needed
  • Manage and oversee the deliverables of key contractors and some (sub-)grantee partners to ensure high quality products and deliverables, and that all activities are within budget parameters.
  • Engage in program design and resource development in partnership with the leadership of the Aspen Forum


  • In collaboration with the Executive Director (ED) and the Managing Director (MD), write and/or edit proposals, concept papers, project narratives and other materials related to fundraising for the Aspen Forum, especially for new areas of work.
  • In partnership with the ED and MD, help to maintain consistent communication with funders on the progress and outcomes of specific projects.
  • Review and contribute to quarterly, bi-annual and annual reports for funders.


  • Lead an emerging and expanding body of work focused on supporting community power-building and equity.
  • Manage key partnerships focused on building philanthropic field practices that focus on community centered grantmaking.
  • Lead on collective impact field building, especially designing a national agenda on equity and community engagement.
  • Work to connect and leverage across programmatic areas of the Aspen Forum, as well as work to leverage and connect where appropriate across the Aspen Institute.
  • Work with external partners and project evaluators to ensure all aspects of the work are documented, assessed and analyzed for impact over time.
  • Work with the Forum team to identify knowledge, products and tools communities are currently using to support the work of community solutions. Help share and disseminate the information across the field, with grantees, and national networks.
  • Connect with national partners to determine new tools to measure, sustain and improve the efficacy of collaboratives and to catalogue effective products and tools to share with communities across the country including the identification of gaps in products and tools that are integral to supporting the work of collaboratives.  
  • Work with Aspen Forum team to conduct/commission research on local, state and national work tied to relevant work for the Aspen Forum.
  • Work with Aspen Forum team to design and finalize the strategic goals of relevant programmatic areas of work for the Forum and help to align new projects with the Aspen Forumís mission.
  • The Senior Associate will also have the opportunity to author and co-author communications products (such as white papers) in partnership with other Forum staff, and/or external partners/contractors
  • Additional responsibilities as designated.

Convenings and Learning Community:

  • Help design and execute Aspen Forum roundtable discussions, convenings and learning community activities that engender connections between community grantees, local leaders, mayors, practitioners, policymakers, government officials, philanthropy, and others and share learnings from convenings. Work with the Forum team to support a media strategy and engage media partners to amplify effective community solutions.
  • With partners (e.g. FSG, NFG, FCCP, GEO, HCZ, PolicyLink etc.) engage leaders across multiple sectors in sharing best practices of community solutions/collective impact including cataloguing principles of leadership, community and family engagement strategies, deciphering issues of complexity in leadership and collaboration across systems, etc. for example, this role partners closely with the Collective Impact Forum at FSG and Philanthropy Forward with NFG.
  • Additional responsibilities as necessary/designated and as developed by the social entrepreneur in the role of Senior Associate.


  • Work with the Aspen team to support fiscal details that serve as the fulcrum of projects associated with the strategic partnerships role.
  • Additional responsibilities as designated.


  • Work with Aspen Forum team, partners and consultants to document and share content and learnings from Aspen Forum programming, meetings and convenings.
  • Design, compose and disseminate case studies to inform the development of new community solution initiatives.
  • Use social media and other online tools to highlight and profile examples of successful action in communities.
  • Work with the Forum team and consultants to support the design and development of the Forum website. Ensure that the website is up-to-date and constantly evolving/improving.
  • Represent the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Forum at national conferences, Aspen Institute functions and across national networks and audiences.
  • Additional responsibilities as designated.

Knowledge, Education & Experience:

  • This position requires a strong commitment to quality, equity, and innovation in supporting community solutions. The candidate selected for this position will demonstrate a deep commitment to serving youth, families and communities. They will have knowledge of the nonprofit, philanthropic and community change sector(s) and will be comfortable developing new and innovative programs, while supporting existing efforts within the Aspen Forum.
  • Strong national network preferred
  • Proven track record in working with Philanthropy/donors
  • A Masterís Degree or higher in a relevant field and/or 5 or more years of experience in the nonprofit sector program management is preferred.
  • A history of success in strategy development and implementation
  • A background working on issues of social and/or environmental justice is preferred
  • Awareness, knowledge, sensitivity and ability to build relationships with people of all backgrounds, income levels and communications skills.
  • Some management experience including working with non-profits, educational institutions, government/elected officials, and business leaders.
  • Experience managing and evaluating grantees for measurable impact.
  • Ability to travel at least 30 percent.
  • A history of innovation and social entrepreneurship is preferred
  • Excellent facilitation, presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Exemplary partnership building skills that includes the ability to build collaborative relationships and manage partnerships thoughtfully and strategically. The ability to lead on complex issues within and outside of organizations and across various institutions and levels of authority is essential.
  • Experience working with a network of entrepreneurial leaders and providing guidance, inspiration, support and buy-in across all groups.
  • Ability to manage conflict and simultaneously achieve project goals.
  • Experience in creating and delivering high quality, relevant and content rich trainings, convenings and technical assistance to/with partners.
  • A strong track record in collaboration and in working closely with a team.
  • A sense of humor and ability to be flexible.

Level of Authority:

  • Some budget authority

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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