Program Associate

The Aspen Institute
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Early Career / Mid Career
  • Posted
    Jan 03

Position description

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 worlds 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 students and students of color. 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 Institutes 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 has an immediate opening for a Program Associate. The selected candidate will join a small, entrepreneurial staff embedded within the vibrant larger environment of the Aspen Institute in its Washington, DC, headquarters. This position is an opportunity to support innovative programs addressing quality, equity, and efficiency in higher education.

CEPs Program Associates play a key role in one or more project teams as analysts and project managers. Successful Associates are those who thrive in a fast-paced, team environment and who enjoy a mix of heads-down analytic work and internal and external collaboration. Under the guidance of program managers and supervision of program and executive directors, Associates are responsible for delivering content and processes to ensure that project goals are met on-time and with high quality.

This position will have primary focus in two significant CEP projects: The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and Tackling Transfer.

  • For the Aspen Prize, the Associate will support the 18-month process of engaging committees of national experts in the assessment of student success outcomes in community colleges nationally in order to award a $1M Prize to colleges with the greatest absolute levels of success and strongest improvement over time in learning, completion, equity, and post-completion outcomes. The Associate role for the Prize involves managing the collection and synthesis of institutional data and qualitative information, management of key vendors and partners, and the management of a complex fast-paced timeline of events leading to the biennial award ceremony.
  • For Tackling Transfer, the Associate will serve in a backbone support role at the hub of a complex three-state, three-year project engaging networks of state policy and institutional partners in efforts to advance community college transfer student outcomes at scale. The Associate will manage partner communications, meeting agendas, and materials development in collaboration with the other organizations engaged in the project. The Associate will also support the development of insight and tools designed to extend learning from the project to other transfer-focused efforts within Aspen and the field more broadly.

In both projects, the Associate will support high-quality project delivery by ensuring smooth, timely communication between partners; conducting analysis and synthesis of information from various sources; preparing meeting agendas and materials; managing project timelines and helping communicate and hold partners accountable for deadlines; supporting event development and management; and supporting strategic communications.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage engagement and communications with external partners, including institutional representatives, partner organizations, consultants and vendors.
  • Support development of content that clearly communicates program concepts and processes to internal and external stakeholders, including clear and simple data visualization and written memos/emails.
  • Provide substantive and administrative support in the planning and implementation of convenings, site visits, and web conferences.
  • Support development of qualitative best practice research studies related to college access and success.
  • Help coordinate dissemination activities including the development of practice guides, presentations, and other activities.
  • Manage complex processes, including developing project plans, scheduling internal/external meetings, and planning agendas to ensure efficient and effective engagement of key partners.

Desired Knowledge, Education, and Experience:

  • Outstanding organizational skills, with emphasis on time management, attention to detail, and the ability to plan, organize, and carry out multiple activities.
  • Demonstrated excellence in research, writing, and analytic ability.
  • Strong communications skills and ability to engage with a diverse set of audiences.
  • Ability to think strategically about ways to organize and display qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Curiosity, humility, and a desire and ability to seek out information/ideas necessary to meet project goals with high levels of quality.
  • Comfort working under pressure and tight deadlines in a fast-paced environment.
  • Enthusiasm about accomplishing administrative tasks that support program priorities.
  • Advanced skills in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Ability to work both autonomously and as part of a close-knit team.
  • Strong interest in higher education and the role of community colleges in advancing social mobility and equitable talent development; some knowledge of higher education policy or practice is preferred but not required.
  • Bachelors degree required.

Application instructions

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