Imagine your next career opportunity

Associate Director (DC - Hybrid)

The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Thursday, February 1, 2024

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.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

To achieve our mission of a more free, just, and equitable society, we commit to working proactively to advance the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our myriad endeavors such as the recruitment, compensation, training, and advancement of staff. The best people-serving institutions make this commitment, and we seek to be a leader in the ways that we do so and learn from others. Visit our website to learn more about our commitment and recent actions taken toward building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive environment.

Program Description:

The Aspen Institute’s 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 Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, the American Talent Initiative, our portfolio of projects to improve transfer outcomes, and other highly visible national projects, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ capacity to achieve high levels of success for all students, and to eliminate disparities in postsecondary attainment and social mobility for students from low-income backgrounds and historically marginalized and underserved groups. Our work focuses on improving higher education institutions in six areas: ensuring high-quality learning, increasing completion rates, improving community college transfer and baccalaureate attainment, increasing post-college employment and earnings outcomes, ensuring strong access to college credentials of value, and achieving equity in outcomes across all domains. We advance those outcomes by quantitatively identifying and publicly elevating those colleges achieving excellent and equitable outcomes, conducting research on how those outcomes were accomplished, publishing reports and practical tools to support college leaders and practitioners interested in replicating effective practices, and conducting professional development programs for presidents, senior teams, board of trustees, and others. Learn more about our work at

Basic Function:

The Associate Director ensures the high-quality implementation of complex, high-impact projects engaging leaders and networks of four-year and community colleges working toward student outcomes goals, including but not limited to the Unlocking Opportunity Network and the communities of practice within the American Talent Initiative. The ideal candidate for this role will have a strong knowledge of issues in higher education, high proficiency with higher education data and research, experience creating content for executive audiences, ability to manage a small team to deliver high-quality products and events effectively, and a track record of developing and implementing major new initiatives.

Candidates will thrive in this role if they are reform- and systems-minded individuals who have experience driving change from the outside; collectively brainstorming to set strategy; and diving into data and research to ensure actions are evidence-based. We seek collaborative individuals who are receptive to feedback, and care more about the quality and impact of the work than who owns it.

This position reports directly to the Director. The salary range for this position is $120,000 - $140,000. This position is in the Aspen Institute’s Washington, D.C. office and is expected to work from the office at least 40% of the time.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Ensure high-quality implementation of project management for multiple, complex projects in all phases, including design, execution, and improvement of project plans aligned to strategic goals.

  • Advance the success of the 10 Unlocking Opportunity colleges and 130+ American Talent Initiative member institutions by understanding institutional contexts, challenges, and opportunities in order to provide tailored support.

  • Guide and develop research on effective practices implemented by institutions in Unlocking Opportunity and the American Talent Initiative.

  • Develop and provide feedback on slide decks, memos, and communications for internal and external executive audiences, ensuring high quality in all products.

  • Translate data and research into effective case-making materials appropriate for presidential audiences.

  • Liaise with executive leaders in higher education to support institutional student access, success, and equity goals.

  • Develop new and shepherd existing partnerships with internal and external stakeholders to advance project goals.

  • Supervise 2-3 project staff and cross-functional teams to execute projects and develop materials to a high standard.

  • Write, review, and provide feedback on grant proposals and reports.

  • Provide strategic thought partnership to directors, managing director, and executive director.

  • Ensure quality stewardship of resources.

Knowledge, Education, and Experience:

  • 10+ years of relevant experience.

  • Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred.

  • Expertise in higher education access, success, and equity, knowledge of executive audiences, translating data & research, program management & design, people management, grant writing.

  • A track record of executing complex, impactful projects that engage stakeholders from multiple institutions or organizations.

  • Quantitative research background preferred.

To apply:

All interested applicants must submit the following:

  1. A one-page 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.

  2. Resume/CV.

  3. Writing Sample.

The Aspen Institute offers a generous benefits package including health, dental, vision, and prescription benefits, retirement benefits, and paid leave.

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.

If you would like to request a reasonable accommodation regarding the accessibility of our website, a modification or adjustment of the job application or interview process due to a disability, contact or call (202) 736-5800.