Senior Manager of Communications
The Aspen Institute

Program/Dept:          The Education & Society Program
Position Location:      Washington, DC
FLSA Status:              Exempt, Full Time

About the Role:

The SCM will serve as the chief communications strategist, leading efforts to advance Aspen Education’s strategic priorities and build Aspen’s external profile. They will have the opportunity to create the overall strategy and influence communication priorities immediately. The Senior Communications Manager will report to the Managing Director and join a high-performing, mission-driven team. 

This SCM will be responsible for speaking directly and respectfully about the work we’re taking on, like Mobility from Poverty, racial justice and intersecting issues of equity in education, with the broader community across the ideological spectrum. Our communication strategy must honor the Aspen Institute’s commitment to equity. We are looking for candidates who are excited to craft and lead this communication work and have experience communicating directly about race, racial justice and equity.

Essential responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Strategic Communications Leadership

  • Develop and implement a strategic communications plan that:

o   Strengthens the impact of the program’s strategic priorities and goals

o   Increases the visibility of Aspen Education, its work, and program leaders

o   Provides a framework for translating complex information into effective messages

o   Enables Aspen Education to stay informed and relevant on critical education issues

o   Proactively considers and targets key audiences (educators, policymakers, advocates, journalists and foundation leaders) for dissemination and influence

o   Stays grounded in the experience of those most impacted by the work of the Program

  • Synthesize key takeaways, themes, and promising practices from Aspen Education and partner convenings and engagements and make relevant for key audiences
  • Build relationships and engage with media, partners, and the field to amplify Aspen Education content
  • Cultivate, retain and manage consultants to augment communications capacity of Aspen team
  • Identify opportunities to strategically inform, complement, and advance the Aspen Institute’s overall impact and efforts to advance a better society
    • Coordinate with the Institute’s communications team to leverage the Institute’s platforms and partnerships to further promote Aspen Education’s work
  • Liaise with communications staff at partner organizations to support alignment, identify opportunities for collaboration and cohesion

Content and Editorial

  • Shape Aspen Education’s voice and narrative by creating, framing, and informing content that advances our mission, and advise on approaches and strategies for dissemination and placement, including blogs, policy reports, op-eds, press kit documents, fact sheets and other communications collateral for key audiences (policymakers, practitioners and philanthropy), and partnerships
    • Ensure that Aspen Education’s voice is consistently grounded in lived experience of those most impacted
  • Build internal capacity, including coaching and supporting Aspen staff, to produce disciplined, strategic, coherent, and intentional external messaging
  • Develop and execute ideas for elevating the voices and stories of leaders Aspen Education convenes, including arranging ghost-writing and/or pitching stories to media outlets
  • Monitor media coverage of local, state, and national education issues, policies, trends to inform program’s content development and outreach strategies
  • Create and manage an editorial calendar and other mechanisms that help strengthen coherence across multiple priorities and activities
  • Oversee entire content production process – from brainstorming to writing to design, layout and promotion, including managing vendors and consultants
  • Support team with talking points, speeches and presentations

Digital and Social Media

  • Oversee and enhance program’s digital presence through social media and other tools
  • Develop, manage and curate website content
  • Produce and publish newsletters and other regular email communications

About You:

  • Have 6+ years of strategy-related communications experience, preferably in the education or advocacy field
  • Have a college degree or equivalent experience in journalism, public relations, or communications
  • Belief in Aspen’s commitment to racial justice, and passionate about deepening personal practices and knowledge around understanding of power, privilege, and equity
  • Experience creating an overall strategy for a organization with multi-faceted priorities
  • Effective storyteller who is adept at translating messages for different key audiences including media, educators, policymakers, and other thought leaders
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including writing for diverse audiences
  • Record of results working collaboratively with larger teams and external partners/vendors
  • Excellent partner and consultant management skills, including strong organizing, planning, and follow-through
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, internet research, social media platforms and tools; Basecamp, Zoom, Mailchimp, website maintenance preferred
  • Committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion across all functions, engagements, and relationships
  • Have your own network of media, public relations, print/digital contacts, and influencers in the education or communication fields and can network across diverse organizations, building additional relationships with multiple stakeholders

About Us:

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program (Aspen Education) improves public education by inspiring, informing, and influencing education leaders across policy and practice, with an emphasis on achieving equity for students of color and students from low-income families. Aspen Education supports leaders at all levels, from networks of urban superintendents and their teams, to state chiefs and their cabinets, to elected officials and their staffers.

About the Work:

Aspen Education is focused on:

1)     Advancing a richer vision of student success that integrates the social, emotional, and academic dimensions of learning as essential to advancing equity;

2)     Transforming education systems so that they can sponsor and model exemplary learning and continuous improvement practices;

3)    Developing education leaders to achieve transformation in learning, equity, and efficacy;

4)    Understanding and addressing poverty in America by fostering connections across education and: housing, health and nutrition, transportation, and criminal justice policy and addressing the impact of race and racism on opportunity in America.

And does this work by:

1)     Hosting thought-provoking convenings of diverse leaders from the district, state, national,  and federal levels that create powerful learning experiences that support and make explicit connections across policy and practice;

2)     Developing resources and tools for national, state, and local policy makers, practitioners, and philanthropy leaders to inform the public discourse on public education and to disseminate lessons/promising practices in a non-partisan, non-ideological way;

3)     Cultivating and fostering partnerships to inform and challenge our thinking, surface and spread promising practices and recommendations, and share and apply our resources and tools.

We are collectively responding to the concurrent crises of COVID-19, racism in America, and diminished civic discourse. Decision-makers, their staffs, and policy leaders will need time and space, information and data, new ideas and innovation to help them rise to the moment. Incumbent leaders must shift mindsets and build new competencies to understand effective engagement and empowerment of those most affected by these challenges: rising generations, people of color, and people from low income backgrounds.

Aspen Education has proposed a set of five principles for developing and evaluating policy that:
1. is centered on equity in both content and process,
2. takes a holistic and coherent approach,
3. is aligned with science,
4. is oriented toward a long-term vision for success, and
5. embeds an innovation and learning Agenda

The Education and Society Program team, with the input and guidance of the Senior Manager of Communications, will work to define a strategy and communication plan  that strengthens and advances the overall strategic objectives, focused on creating impact, coherence, and connection across activities.

To Apply:

To apply, please visit the application here. Applicants must submit cover letter and resume. The Aspen Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer and complies with all District and federal laws. Candidates must have the ability to work under pressure and handle stress. Compensation is commensurate with experience.

Aspen Education is committed to ensuring the diversity of our team. While not a minimum or mandatory qualification, we strongly encourage candidates of color, those who identify as Native American, women, people of low-income backgrounds, those who are differently-abled, and those with first-hand experience of education inequity to apply for this role.

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