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Executive Director, Socrates Program

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

For more than 28 years, the Socrates Program has provided a forum for emerging leaders from various professions to convene and explore contemporary issues through expert-moderated, text-based dialogue; Socrates also provides the opportunity for participants to enter a diverse professional network and is a key entry point into the broader Aspen Institute. The Socrates Program targets participants under the age of 60, and primarily in the 30-40 age range to explore current, pressing global challenges. Discussions are built around contemporary texts and are led by moderators who engage and encourage participants to share their views with a diverse group of peers. Founded by Gary & Laura Lauder, Socrates seminars alumni include urban mayors, one U.S. President, several U.S. Senators and Representatives, as well as senior leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors.

Basic Function

The Aspen Institute seeks an entrepreneurial, collaborative, and innovative leader as the new Executive Director for the Socrates Program. The next Executive Director will be responsible for a new phase of growth for this prestigious Program.

The target base salary range for this position is $180,000-200,000. Actual compensation is based on several factors, including but not limited to education, work experience, and qualifications.

Please read the specifications for this position below before applying through our recruiting partner, Heidrick and Struggles at AspenSocrates@heidrick.com. Outreach about this position to Aspen Institute employees will be redirected to this email address.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Fundraising and Financial Management:

  • Constantly identify and recruit seminar attendees.
  • Identify, develop, and maintain ongoing corporate and foundation relationships for fundraising purposes.
  • Oversee the Socrates budget and ensure that the Program operates within the budget guidelines; oversee an endowment that provides annual funds for scholarships and base operating expenses (please note it will be vital for the incoming director to fundraise for these expenses as well).
  • Initiate and secure scholarship funds from internal Aspen sources
  • Identify, recruit, and organize the selection—according to Institute-prescribed criteria—of scholarship recipients for participation in Socrates seminars.

Content Development

  • Provide leadership in program development, program marketing and financial plans (including corporate sponsorship) in coordination with stakeholders.
  • Explore domestic partnerships and expansion plans for Socrates seminars; growth can take many forms, including college campuses, international seminars, partnerships with corporations, non-profits, and other Fellowship programs from the Military to the academic sector.
  • Identify, recruit and partner with seminar moderators to create compelling seminar content.
  • Oversee the development and management of the Socrates website, social media, customer relationship management (Salesforce) and other online tools, including the timely posting of content, setting up online registration and the online scholarship application, expanding the online community, and the timely updating of alumni and prospect databases.
  • Manage and develop international seminar offerings in collaboration with the Institute’s International Partners and projects to broaden Socrates’ world-wide market.

Network Building, Team Management and Program Management

  • Support and manage a team of 2-4 staff.
  • Promote active and broad participation by volunteers and stakeholders, including the Socrates Steering Committee and Sub-committee of the Aspen Institute Board of Trustees.
  • Create broader ties across the Institute to coordinate strategy, programming and integration with the broader mission and activities of the Institute.
  • Expand the marketing programs, partnerships, and offer sponsorship opportunities.
  • Expand networking and collaboration opportunities for Socrates participants.
  • Produce and expand a Socrates newsletter at least three times a year and innovate the social media strategy and alumni communication approach.

Knowledge, Education, and Experience

  • 8-12 years of professional partnership-building, recruitment & fundraising experience.
  • Availability for frequent domestic travel and limited international travel. Prior experience traveling/working with international counterparts is highly desired. Language skills beyond English is also valuable.
  • Track record of building strong networks and communities, recruiting leaders and supporters to achieve programmatic goals.
  • Demonstrated experience in developing, launching, growing, and managing nonprofit or corporate programming and initiatives.
  • Experience serving as the spokesperson and public face of an initiative or organization.
  • Experience engaging across diverse stakeholder groups and collaborates effectively up, down and across the organization, and with internal and external stakeholders alike. A well-networked individual with a proven track record of building relationships, both internally and externally, to get things done.
  • Executive presence, public speaking experience, and strong written and verbal communications skills.
  • Intellectual Curiosity, Mission Orientation & Aspirational Focus.

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 HRSupport@aspeninstitute.org or call (202) 736-5800.