Program Manager - Instructional Design & Content 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 postsecondary 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 students and students of color 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 fun. The Aspen Institute's DC headquarters provides a vibrant setting in which to do this work, and we benefit from a rich array of lectures, expert panels, discussion groups, and other convenings that occur throughout the year on a diverse spectrum of topics.

Role: Program Manager – Instructional Design & Content Development

The College Excellence Program (CEP) has an immediate opening for a multi-talented individual with experience in instructional design and curriculum development as well as exceptional writing ability. The selected candidate will join a small, pioneering staff embedded within the vibrant larger environment of the Aspen Institute in its Washington, DC, headquarters.

We are seeking an action-oriented staff member who can co-lead the development of high-quality, engaging instructional materials to be delivered through CEP’s Leading for Community College Excellence Curricular Resources, the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, and a New Presidents Institute, as well as in a range of other high-impact settings. We are looking for someone who understands adult learning and thinks deeply and creatively about ways to engage groups in highly effective activities that are aligned to clearly defined learning objectives. The individual in this position will collaborate with CEP program managers and senior staff, as well as expert partners in the field, to create curricular resources that are flexible and innovative in delivery while maintaining fidelity to CEP’s perspective on the qualities of excellence in community college leadership and practice.

The individual in this position will also be responsible for writing reports and other materials for a variety of audiences in support of CEP’s programs. This individual will be an expert writer who demonstrates an understanding of audience and impact and can help translate CEP’s core ideas and values into content for a variety of purposes and media.

The ideal candidate for this position is excited by the opportunity to serve a critical knowledge management function for CEP, helping to develop and lead a program-wide learning agenda and identify strategies to promote cross-initiative sharing. They have 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. The ideal candidate is a curious, self-directed 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. They thrive in a busy, entrepreneurial setting while expertly handling competing priorities, maintaining a positive attitude, and working collaboratively.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Translate community college leadership research and principles into high-quality instructional content for our open-access curriculum, including curricular modules and supporting case studies, activities, and assignments.
  • Customize and tailor existing CEP curricular materials for different settings and audiences with varying levels of experience, including for CEP’s leadership programs.
  • Develop and manage a process for regularly updating CEP’s open-access curricular materials as they evolve through field testing and use cases.
  • Develop new curricular content by contributing to research on emerging leadership topics in the field. Write clear, compelling content for a variety of audiences in support of CEP’s programs.
  • Fulfill research functions related to curriculum development, such as conducting interviews and synthesizing artifacts from colleges, including documents and data reports.
  • Serve as a thought partner in the design of CEP programs and convenings. Design and co-lead internal staff development on key topics in collaboration with other CEP staff.
  • Provide “all-hands-on-deck” support to CEP programs and events as needed.
  • Represent CEP at convenings, conferences, and other public forums with a high level of professionalism and expertise.

Some travel required.



  • Demonstrated skill and creativity in instructional design and curriculum development for adult learners. Note:
  • We welcome candidates from higher education backgrounds as well as those who have proven experience developing high-quality instructional programming for organizational/industry training, professional development programs, K-12 teacher training programs, nontraditional postsecondary education institutions, or other settings serving adult learners.
  • 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.
  • Strong management skills and initiative: Candidates should be detail-oriented and resolute about following through, with the ability to independently produce high-quality products, lead projects, and work collaboratively.
  • Comfort working under tight deadlines in a fast-paced environment.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work on a team.

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.

3) An example of a professional development session or learning activity that you have designed for adult learners. You may wish to include any of the following: a PowerPoint deck, a facilitation guide or session plan with aligned handouts, etc.

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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