Communications Manager, CEP

16 Jul, 2020


Communications Manager, CEP

The Aspen Institute
Washington, DC

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners.

The 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, and other initiatives, the program works to improve colleges’ capacity to achieve high levels of success for all students, and to eliminate disparities for low-income and minority students on U.S. campuses. Learn more about our work at

The College Excellence Program staff is a diverse team of driven and energetic professionals who share a commitment to increasing access to and success in higher education. We are motivated by the power of education to change lives, and we work hard while also pushing ourselves to learn constantly, collaborate and innovate, and have measurable impact. The Aspen Institute’s D.C. headquarters provides a vibrant setting in which to do this work, and we benefit from a rich array of expert panels, discussion groups, and lectures that occur throughout the year on a diverse spectrum of topics.


The College Excellence Program advances practices that significantly improve student learning, completion, and outcomes after college, especially for the growing population of students of color and low-income students on American campuses. We identify what works through qualitative and quantitative research, then influence practice through several means, among them intensive leadership development programs, editorial products including research publications and practice tools, collaborative service provision, and high-profile awards.

Projects the communications manager advances include:

Our ability to drive action depends on our communications efforts. We are looking for a communications manager to take CEP to the next level by developing and executing strategic communications initiatives across our programs and equipping staff at all levels to be effective communicators. The communications manager will be able to manage communications strategy across the program and independently create content.


In collaboration with CEP staff and partners, including college leaders, nonprofit organizations, and funders, the communications manager will lead a variety of efforts to amplify our work, highlight best practices (primarily in the community college sector), and engage in public dialogue—all with the goal of building and sustaining urgency for systems change in higher education. Strategies include digital communications efforts, media placement, editorial product development, publication launches, event promotion, communications channels for our own network of community college leaders, and creative ideas we haven’t yet considered.

The ideal communications manager candidate has a proven ability to take initiative, conceive and make the case for ideas, and drive processes forward even in ambiguous situations. They are an excellent writer and an effective project manager. They learn quickly, think critically and analytically, and adapt when priorities change. They have experience cultivating and managing a large number of internal and external relationships, building consensus among multiple stakeholders.

Essential duties and responsibilities

  • Translate complex ideas into succinct, impactful communications for a wide range of written materials, such as press releases, fact sheets, and toolkits for member engagement
  • Lead team in the process of identifying communications goals and conceptualize, implement, and assess strategies aimed at external and internal audiences; efficiently manage communications projects that involve CEP staff and partners, including colleges, communications firms, and funders
  • Manage digital strategy, including a website (and possible revamp), newsletters, and social media strategy
  • Increase CEP’s public visibility and advance our ideas by building relationships with media, identifying opportunities for and successfully pitching earned media, and supporting development of thought leadership commentaries
  • Manage the engagement of communications firms and other external consultants

Required experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 5+ years’ experience developing and executing communications strategy at a mission-driven nonprofit, communications firm, higher education institution, media organization, or other setting focused on independently creating and strategically disseminating information to build engagement and achieve social impact
  • Proven ability to build and manage productive relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders, from junior staffers to high-profile leaders; initiate and manage projects with those stakeholders, guided by a strong sense of strategic direction; and manage their engagement in a consistent, organized manner
  • Entrepreneurial acumen; demonstrated ability to develop and advocate for ideas and identify opportunities to increase impact
  • Demonstrated success building media relationships and winning media placement
  • Experience developing, executing, and evaluating digital strategy
  • Editing skills and a demonstrated talent for clear, effective writing
  • Passion for the mission and objectives of the College Excellence Program and the values of the Aspen Institute

Preferred experience:

  • Professional knowledge of higher education
  • Experience managing relationships with communications consultants and other vendors
  • Experience developing colleagues as effective communicators

What it’s like to work with CEP:

  1. Systems change: We are working to change the field of higher education by conducting research; translating the research into curriculum, reports, and other products; and delivering this content in multiple ways to a variety of audiences.
  2. Entrepreneurial approach: We pride ourselves on being entrepreneurial so that our work can reflect the changing nature of the field, and we can nimbly respond to trends and funding opportunities. People who are comfortable with ambiguity and are excited by seeing progress in the field typically do well at CEP.
  3. Team culture: Our team is top-notch, and we treat people well. Our team members are dedicated to seeing meaningful change in higher education, and are smart, collaborative, and do what it takes to get the job done. We are committed to the growth and development of our team members, and we deeply value diversity in our team to enrich our work and enable us to develop creative, inclusive strategies aligned to the needs of the diverse colleges and leaders we support.

To learn more about how we hire at CEP and the generous health, retirement, and other benefits offered by the Aspen Institute, please visit our website.

To Apply:

All interested applicants must submit the following:

  1. A 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

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.

Job posted: 2020-07-16