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.

Development Director, AYLF

Location: Washington, DC

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.

Youth Leadership Programs identifies, cultivates, and amplifies the talent of rising generations and the ecosystems that support them. The department works with youth up to the age of 25 to redress the most complex and challenging social, political, and scientific issues facing communities not in some distant future but today. The department is home to The Aspen Challenge, Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship, Bezos Scholars, and Youth Lead Now.

The Aspen Young Leaders Fellowship (AYLF) identifies, cultivates, and amplifies future generations of talent to engage in the values-based leadership essential for transforming their lives and society for the better. AYLF is a place-based, multi-site program that nurtures a cadre of diverse youth ages 18 – 24 to support (1) degree completion, (2) workforce readiness and placement, and (3) civic engagement that addresses the most compelling social, political, and scientific issues facing their communities. AYLF accelerates leadership development, socio-emotional learning, and social innovation along with fellows’ abilities to effectuate change both inside and outside of systems. The program operates on a 1+4 model (1 year of intensive training coupled with 4 years of targeted support for degree completion and workforce placement) and stimulates long-term community transformation through a whole-systems approach involving families, educators, and community stakeholders.

Basic Function:

The selected candidate will support a diverse, dynamic, and high-performing team focused on youth and community development. The Director role will be located in Washington, DC, and reports to the Executive Director of Youth Leadership Programs with a dotted line to the Vice President of the Office of Institutional Advancement at the Aspen Institute. This leadership position serves as a critical member of a growing Development team responsible for securing annual and complex, multi-year and multi-faceted, gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations to support the AYLF mission.

Responsible for setting and driving the AYLF fundraising strategy, stewarding key relationships, supporting grant reporting and delivery, and implementing strategic fundraising campaigns and related programmatic activities for AYLF. The Development Director will also provide direction, set priorities, and execute an innovative approach to fundraising and stewardship. These responsibilities are achieved via an unwavering focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as a commitment to centering the talent and expertise of the communities we serve.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

The Director will assume day-to-day responsibility for AYLF fundraising and gift management. Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Oversee all activities related to closing, managing, and monitoring of gifts and campaigns on behalf of AYLF.
  • Create and implement annual plans to reach short- and long-term financial objectives for major and planned gifts.
  • Establish forecasts and prepare evaluations of fundraising potential by identifying and rating prospects and engaging key Institute leaders and volunteers in the process.
  • Monitor fundraising results and activity on an ongoing basis by meeting with the Advancement office and to identify areas of highest concern and priority.
  • Design and implement development themes, outreach, and communications strategies that feature compelling opportunities for donors investment and support.
  • Lead the cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of prospects, which includes managing a portfolio of 50+ donors, with expectations for meaningful contact of 100% of the assigned portfolio in a given 12-month period.
  • Maintain personal prospect pipeline to reflect a minimum of 10 major gift solicitations per year with the goal of raising $5M annually.
  • Serve as chief proposal writer to ensure the highest standards of quality and accuracy when other staff members undertake this process.
  • Actively participate in the Institute’s Advancement leadership team to develop major gift strategies and assist in setting departmental priorities. Work collaboratively with the relationship management teams and other Advancement staff to meet fundraising targets.
  • Create substantive and enduring community relationships through exceptional cultural competence in working with low to moderate income, primarily BIPOC communities.
  • Collaborate with operations team to create and maintain updates collateral and messaging sharing the AYLF story.


Location & Weekend and Travel Expectations

This position will ideally be located in Washington, DC, or Chicago, IL. This position requires some weekend work and an ability and willingness to travel up to 25% of the time to support development efforts. Travel expectations are contingent upon health and safety guidance and policies from national/local authorities and the Aspen Institute.


Principal Interactions:

Interacts regularly with members of the Advancement team, senior staff, Institute employees at large, and Institute Trustees and donors.


Knowledge, Education & Experience:

Youth Leadership Programs is committed to ensuring the diversity of our team and we strongly encourage candidates of color, those who identify as Native American, women, people of low-income backgrounds, those who are differently-abled, and those with first-hand experience with economic/social challenges and inequity to apply for this role.

We seek candidates who can work effectively with diverse teams and communities, juggle complex projects, and cultivate strong relationships with partners. The candidate will have a proven ability to direct complex operational details and function in an evolving environment that requires empathy, flexibility, and the ability to set strategy.

  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree preferred.
  • At least six (6) years of professional experience in development or related field, including direct solicitation of five and six figure gifts.
  • Experience with managing a successful campaign and working directly with high-level donors, staff, and volunteers.
  • Management experience and skills that will motivate and inspire staff while setting high expectations and professional direction. Credibility, good judgment, integrity, and the ability to motivate others in a similar vein are essential.
  • A facilitator, collaborator, and coordinator with outstanding problem-solving abilities.
  • Able to travel regularly in the Washington metro area as well as periodically to Aspen, New York, Chicago, and other areas of portfolio concentration.
  • Strategic mindset and skillful at planning, organizing and following through.
  • Firm understanding of the fundraising goals of the Aspen Institute, AYLF, and ability to communicate those priorities convincingly to prospective donors and constituents.

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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