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Department: ASCEND

The Aspen Institute:

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

Ascend ,a policy program of the Aspen Institute (), is the hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security. Ascend takes a two-generation approach to our work focusing on both children and their parents together and brings a gender and racial equity lens to analysis. We believe that education, economic supports, and social capital are the core elements that create an intergenerational cycle of opportunity. We are engaged in three strategies:

Building a brain trust of diverse leaders through a national fellowship program and extended learning network;

Identifying, supporting, and elevating two-generation programs, policies, and community solutions through research, publications, convenings, media, online platforms, and financial investment; and

Engaging the perspectives, strengths, resilience, and aspirations of low-income families to inform program design and policy development by highlighting the voices of children and parents through focus groups, storytelling, and forums.

Basic Function:

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.

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. The ideal candidates must possess content expertise in the area of postsecondary education and training, family economic security and well-being. They will have a proven ability to take initiative, leverage external expertise and partnerships, cultivate strong relationships and provide strategic analysis. They 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, they will be a critical leader in developing and advancing Ascend s agenda.

This position reports to the Communications Strategist and Manager and will work close with Vice Assistant Director for Postsecondary Success for Parents. They will join a high-performing team of 14. 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.


  • Work closely with the Communications Strategist and Manager in all aspects of communications and policy work
  • 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
  • Prepare and support Ascend staff in public speaking, strategic presentations, op-eds as needed.
  • Monitor local, state and federal policies, regulations and legislation related to two-generation approaches and family economic mobility
  • 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

  • College Degree and 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 regular attendance policy of the Aspen Institute.

    * The salary listed in the header is an estimate based on salary data for similar jobs in the same area. Salary or compensation data found in the job description is accurate.

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