Senior Program Manager, Labor Market & Workforce

The Aspen Institute

Posted: 3/9/2020

Position Type: Full-Time (Paid)

Function: Research and Development

Primary domain: Research

City: Washington

Postal code: 20037

State: Washington, DC

Country: United States

Organization Information:


$0 - $1M


Mission statement:

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. 

Position Details:

Job Description:

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.

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 American Talent Initiative, 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 in postsecondary access and achievement for low-income students and students of color. All our projects are designed to improve higher education in four areas: strengthening learning; increasing completion rates; improving post-completion outcomes in community college transfer and the labor market; and increasing equity in educational outcomes for historically marginalized and underserved student populations. CEP is based in the Aspen Institutes Washington, DC, headquarters.

Position Description:

The College Excellence Program is seeking an experienced senior program manager to lead projects focused on improving community college student outcomes, with a specific focus on transitions to the workforce. The ideal candidate is knowledgeable about higher education reform or workforce education, with experience in research, policy, or as a practitioner focused on improving student outcomes. The senior program manager will oversee several large existing grant-funded projects and contribute to the strategic growth of the emerging workforce education portfolio within the College Excellence Program.

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. CEPs senior program managers are exceptional analysts who 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 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.

Successful senior managers are self-directed, curious learners who proactively identify opportunities to facilitate the learning of others on the team and to elevate the quality and impact of their work. 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, mentoring and training junior staff, maintaining a positive attitude, and working collaboratively across programmatic areas.



  • Conduct applied research and qualitative/quantitative analysis to generate critical insights about effective strategies for improving student success and increasing equity and socioeconomic diversity in higher education.
  • Experience planning, executing, managing or overseeing large stakeholder engagement events.
  • Lead the translation of research insights into content appropriate for varying audiences, with the goal of best practices being adopted in the field.
  • Familiarity with curriculum development and design preferred.
  • Manage multiple projects on tight timelines while upholding high quality standards. Direct other team members, consultants, and partners to achieve shared project goals.
  • Build and cultivate relationships with external thought partners and field leaders, as well as external communications consultants and partners.
  • Contribute to team-wide learning and CEP strategy going forward.
  • Supervise staff and consultants on projects.
  • Develop project budgets and manage within them on an ongoing basis.
  • Develop compelling, high-quality proposals and reports to funders and supporters of CEPs work.


  • Bachelors degree and 7+ years experience; advanced degree in higher education or related field strongly preferred.
  • Evidence of progressively greater experience equivalent to program direction including managing teams of staff directly, managing complex and dynamic projects, developing and managing large project budgets, influencing and managing complex partnerships with external stakeholders and significantly contributing to organizational strategy.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage in a complex matrix environment, including the ability to expertly manage upwards and sideways to generate consensus, deliver products, and ultimately influence measurable change within the field.
  • Exceptional writing skills with a focus on clarity, translating data and research results, detail, and accuracy.
  • Exceptional project management skills, including a demonstrated ability to manage multiple projects with competing deadlines.
  • Entrepreneurial acumen and drive, and the ability to see and respond to opportunities to strengthen and/or course correct programs and plans to increase impact.
  • Ability to work autonomously as well as collaboratively within a small and highly motivated team.
  • Awareness, knowledge, sensitivity, and ability to build relationships with people of all backgrounds and communications styles, including high-profile institutional and philanthropic executive leaders.
  • Strong organizational skills, including the ability to plan and follow through with staff and a variety of constituencies in a consistently high-quality manner.
  • Good interpersonal skills, including a sense of humor, humility, flexibility, and a desire to learn.
  • Passion for the mission and objectives of the College Excellence Program and the values of the Aspen Institute.

What its like to work with CEP:

  1. Systems change: We are working to change the field of higher education by conducting research; translating the research into curriculum, reports, and other products; and delivering this content in multiple ways to a variety of audiences.
  2. Entrepreneurial approach: We pride ourselves on being entrepreneurial so that our work can reflect the changing nature of the field, and we can nimbly respond to trends and funding opportunities. People who are comfortable with ambiguity and are excited by seeing progress in the field typically do well at CEP.
  3. Team culture: Our team is top-notch, and we treat people well. Our team members are dedicated to seeing meaningful change in higher education, and are smart, collaborative, and do what it takes to get the job done. We are committed to the growth and development of our team members, and strive to create an inclusive culture. In addition, the Aspen Institute provides generous health, retirement, and other benefits.

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 be able to comply with the regular attendance policy of the Aspen Institute.

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