Senior Program Manager - Leadership Development

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 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 Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, and other initiatives, the College Excellence 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 American campuses. All of our projects are designed to improve higher education in four areas: strengthening learning, increasing completion rates, improving post-completion success in transfer or the labor market, and increasing equity in educational outcomes for individuals from historically marginalized and underserved groups. Learn more about our work at

A crucial part of CEP’s strategy is the development of a new generation of exceptional, diverse leaders equipped to lead transformational change. Decades of research and reform efforts have demonstrated an unwavering fact: High-performing educational institutions have excellent leaders. At a time of increased urgency for change and unprecedented turnover among college presidents, CEP is training leaders who are not only deeply committed to ensuring broad access and increasing student success, but who also have the knowledge, skills, and tools to achieve those objectives. Our efforts include the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a yearlong fellowship for 40 aspiring presidents; the New Presidents Institute, a program CEP is developing for community college presidents new to the job; and a suite of tools and services that include an open-access leadership curriculum being used in many contexts nationwide.

The College Excellence Program staff is a small, 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 DC headquarters provides a vibrant setting in which to do this work, and we benefit from a rich array of readings, expert panels, discussion groups, and lectures that occur throughout the year on a diverse spectrum of topics.

Role: Senior Program Manager — Leadership Development

We are looking for an energetic Senior Program Manager who will own the strategy and execution of content design for our nationally recognized leadership development programs. They will raise the bar for the quality and impact of our work through research, content development, and strategic project management. Under supervision of CEP leadership, the manager will define the goals, focus, and differentiation of content we deliver to leaders; work with curriculum developers to build and iterate effective learning materials; manage the execution, evaluation, and continuous improvement of the training; and develop content to translate our learnings to the field. This role will work closely with other Senior Program Managers as part of a collaborative team co-managing our suite of leadership initiatives.

The ideal candidate for this position has a strong commitment to improving postsecondary outcomes, particularly for students served by community colleges, and a belief that student outcomes can be improved by supporting leadership development and transformational organizational change. They have demonstrated effectiveness as a manager and can align organizational activity and resources to a high-level strategy, harnessing the necessary resources and inputs to deliver high-quality outcomes on time and within budget while simultaneously keeping an eye on the big picture. The ideal candidate is a self-directed, curious learner who proactively identifies opportunities to facilitate the learning of others on the team and strategically disseminate new insights to the field.

CEP’s Program Managers are exceptional analysts who can conduct applied research to garner insights of value to the field, strong writers who can develop original content, and proven project managers skilled in balancing competing priorities to deliver high-quality results. They grow professionally through mentorship with senior staff and exposure to thought leaders in higher education, as well as through the many opportunities the position offers for deep learning about strategies for increasing postsecondary access and success. The person in this role thrives in a busy, entrepreneurial setting while expertly handling competing priorities, maintaining a positive attitude, and working collaboratively.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Content development

Guided by research, define and refine what CEP wants leaders to learn—at different points in their career and across different contexts—and what instructional approaches (face-to-face and online) will accomplish that
Work with curriculum developers and others to develop high-quality, differentiated learning tools and resources

Program execution

  • Define the role of, recruit, and activate faculty and mentors, with close attention to building and maintaining strong, collaborative relationships with leaders in the field
  • Manage, with staff support, the logistics, budget, and calendar for the New Presidents Institute
  • Collaborate closely with other Program Managers to ensure effective, aligned execution of programs and events
  • Mentor junior program staff and contribute to program-wide team-building and collaborative efforts
  • Maintain close control of project budgets
  • Maintain relationships with funders through grant reporting and other consistent communications and engage them appropriately in the execution of the work

Evaluation and communications

  • Work with an evaluation partner to assess the quality of our offerings and impact on the field, and adjust content accordingly
  • Oversee research and develop reports on the impact of CEP’s leadership programming

Knowledge, Education, and Experience:

  • Excellent project management skills, including a demonstrated ability to manage multiple projects with tight deadlines and manage timelines and budgets
  • Experience in leadership development and/or professional knowledge of higher education administration or research
  • A demonstrated talent for clear, effective, and persuasive writing; the skill to tailor writing style and voice to target different audiences; and an ability to communicate data and complex ideas simply and effectively
  • Ability to work both independently and productively with small internal teams and larger extended teams that include contractors and third-party partners
  • Advanced degree in a related field preferred, or bachelor’s degree and at least 5-7 years of related experience with a track record of accomplishment and growth

Level of Authority:
Supervisory position
Limited budget authority

All applicants must submit the following to be considered for the position:

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.

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