Communications Officer

13 Oct, 2021


Communications Officer

Aspen Institute
Washington, DC

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.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations to build family economic prosperity and well-being. Ascend embraces a two-generation approach – focusing on children and the adults in their lives together – and is committed to centering gender and racial equity in our work. We believe that early childhood learning and care, postsecondary education/employment pathways for parents, economic assets, social capital, and health and well-being are the core elements that enable families to achieve their full potential. Ascend engages the perspectives, strengths, and resilience of families with low incomes to inform program design and policy development.

The Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship is Ascend’s signature leadership development program. When it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty and making a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families, we bet on well-connected, visionary, courageous leaders to get the job done. The Ascend Fellowship is an investment in leaders with “quantum leap” ideas and have the influence to shift thinking, bridge divides, and build relationships over time. We are committed to building a pipeline of diverse leaders positioned to chart a bold new path for children and families by:

  • Influencing policy, practice, philanthropy, and research
  • Building political will and sustained funding for equitable access and outcomes
  • Elevating and amplifying narrative and voices of champions for children and families to influence public discourse and catalyze action
  • Collaborating to increase the impact of the child and family serving leaders and field with a focus on equity

Basic Function:

Ascend’s Communications Officer will design and implement a strategy to significantly increase the visibility of the Ascend Fellowship program and the impact of Ascend Fellows and Alumni. Working closely with our Communications and Fellowship teams (~10 team members) as well as communications counterparts within Fellow organizations and funding partners, you’ll leverage an abundance of compelling content already in our assets and scope out new stories in order to create, adapt, and activate multi-faceted media tools and channels aimed at generating momentum among prospective Fellows, donors, partners and the general public.

This is a newly created position designed to help Ascend capture, package, and disseminate the breakthrough policy and community “wins” achieved by our Fellows and to expand the reach of the transformational fellowship.  You will draw on the intellectual and convening resources and multi-media platform of the Aspen Institute to expand the conversation around solutions for families with low incomes and advance practical new ideas and systemic shifts to serve children and their families more effectively. In this role, you will have the opportunity to develop and deepen partnerships in our target audience segments (policy, practice, philanthropy and media).

The ideal candidate has a proven ability to break through the noise, possesses strong storytelling instincts, and has the ability to respond rapidly to “catch the story”. You communicate in a clear, pithy, and engaging manner, can engage a variety of audiences and across different mediums, and possess a passion for storytelling. You lead from an equity and excellence perspective and understand the critical role of communications to drive policy, system, and mindset change. You are curious, ask probing questions that get to the heart of the matter, are solutions-focused, and value the experience and resilience of families. You know how to “look around the corner” for opportunities and potential challenges and revel in working with diverse, mission-driven leaders. You bring a deep commitment to social justice, racial and gender equity, and respect for lived experience.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Tell Our Stories:

  • Develop a strong narrative strategy that showcases Ascend’s proven track record of transformational change, investments in leadership, and the results achieved for children and families;
  • Work cross-functionally to gather and craft compelling narratives that promote and amplify the impact, innovation and influence of Ascend Fellows and the Fellowship, as well as our funders/partners across a variety of channels;
  • Contribute to knowledge management and continuous improvement efforts; develop and maintain communications, audience, and impact tracking systems;
  • Develop and edit materials, including for Ascend convenings and publications;
  • Serve as primary content driver and editor for the Fellowship website and social media content on relevant issues, as needed;
  • Develop talking points, briefing materials, and draft op-eds for leadership team, as requested;

Amplify Our Impact:

  • Increase visibility and influence of Ascend Fellowship and individual Fellows/Alumni across a variety of audience-appropriate multi-media and digital channels;
  • Help frame and disseminate important field resources to advance thought leadership and innovation in the field;
  • Identify and implement opportunities to leverage Ascend cross-program policy/systems impact, innovation, products, etc.;
  • Leverage the Aspen Institute’s communications team’s expertise and assets, outside consultants (e.g. photographer, videographer, etc.), and media relationships to advance Ascend’s communications goals; and
  • Coach/train our Ascend Fellows in strategic communications and storytelling.

Knowledge, Education, and Experience:

  • Minimum of 5-7 years of experience in the strategic communications field (e.g. journalism, digital media, film, and/or other related narrative or strategic communications), including digital and multi-media publication experience
  • Communications savvy and tenacious, with a strong track record of high-impact narrative development that appeals to and engages audiences across sectors
  • Proficiency with web content tools and other applications
  • A self starter who is comfortable in an entrepreneurial environment
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as Ascend’s mission of developing leaders and advancing practice and policy solutions for children and families with low incomes;
  • Experience developing and implementing a variety of successful multi-media campaigns with an ability to measure the impact of our communications activities
  • Willingness and ability to travel (occasionally).

To Apply

Visit our career page at Work at the Aspen Institute | The Aspen Institute and follow the instructions for uploading your cover letter, communication sample, and resume. All interested applicants must submit all three: cover letter, work sample, and resume. Cover letter should highlight applicant’s qualifications and share why this exceptional opportunity is a strong fit. The communications sample is an opportunity to show versus tell about a candidate’s work. The sample can be a relevant article, case study, interview, video, or surprise us.

Applications without resume, cover letter, and sample of work will not be considered.

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: 2021-10-13