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Position Title:             Communications Director
Program/Dept.:           Community Strategies Group
Position Location:      Washington, DC
FLSA Status:              Full-Time, Exempt

The Aspen Institute
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.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
To achieve our mission of a more free, just, and equitable society, we commit to working proactively to advance the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our myriad endeavors such as the recruitment, compensation, training, and advancement of staff. The best people-serving institutions make this commitment, and we seek to be a leader in the ways that we do so and learn from others. Visit our website to learn more about our commitment and recent actions taken toward building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive environment.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) is one of  28 policy programs at the Aspen Institute focused on improving policy and practice to advance prosperity, justice and equity in relation to a specific issue, place or population.

The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group convenes, equips and inspires local leaders as they build more prosperous regions and advance those living on the economic margins – with our primary focus on rural America since our founding in 1985. Committed to increasing equity and opportunity, CSG advances an asset-based and systems-building approach to improve economic, social and health outcomes through community and economic development.

With CSG as a connecting hub, multiple national and regional organizations are now collaborating to learn from rural practitioners, conduct needed research, analyze systems and innovation, and create useful information and tools to advance policy, practice and systems change that will produce more widespread and equitable rural prosperity, using the Thrive Rural framework. The Thrive Rural framework aims to organize learning, strengthen understanding, and catalyze and align action around what it will take for communities and Native nations across the rural United States to be healthy places where everyone belongs, lives with dignity, and thrives.
  • Build economies and local wealth from the ground up.
  • Improve the livelihood of low-wealth families in their communities.
  • Advance the livelihood of communities within their regions.
  • Reform systems to decrease wealth and social inequality due to historic and ongoing discrimination based on race, place or economic class.
  • Strengthen locally controlled organizational and action resources – and deploy them to address critical issues.
  • Forge vital connections between rural and urban places.
  • Develop healthy and just community capacity and culture.
In our work, we:
  • Convene and facilitate action-inducing peer learning among thinkers and doers to swap strategies and find common ground.
  • Provide strategic guidance to sharpen focus and strategy of regional and rural development practitioners – and of the public, private and philanthropic policy, investment and media leaders that affect rural action, innovation and future prospects.
  • Helps leaders and organizations learn about, identify, develop and adapt strategies and policy that build widely shared and lasting prosperity in communities and regions.
  • Produces practical tools, analysis, stories, action frameworks and media that help communities make better decisions – and that policymakers and investors can use to help rural and regional economies grow and striving rural families get ahead.
  • Forge connections and collaborations across issues, interests, organizations, networks and sectors to build a coherent and aligned equitable rural development field – and powerful, diverse, unified rural voice in the design of systems that affect rural people, places and economies.
  • Manages initiatives that catalyze innovation and progress.
Through our years of work across America, we have learned from the people doing the best work of building and rebuilding strong, inclusive rural communities and regional economies. CSG has cultivated a deep and broad network of the nation’s most creative and dedicated practitioners of rural and regional community and economic development, all eager to forge a better rural future. We work with community leaders – as well as the foundations, associations, networks and organizations that partner with them – in towns and cities, counties and states, rural and urban places, on the local, regional and national levels.

CSG is about to release the Thrive Rural Framework, developed over the past year collaboratively from the ground up with a set of practitioners and intermediaries reflecting the diversity of rural places, economies, populations and culture from across the country. The Framework is a tool to catalyze thinking and acting to
drive toward this “equitable rural prosperity” outcome: Communities and Native nations across the rural United States are healthy places where everyone belongs, lives with dignity and thrives. The Communications Director will shoulder significant responsibility in spreading the understanding and use of the Framework as a catalyst for assembling a strong equitable rural development field over the coming years.

Basic Function
The Associate Director of Communications is a key leader in a small, close-knit, active team. Like everyone on the CSG staff, the Associate Director will play multiple roles, working as a communications specialist while supporting the programmatic activities of CSG, “rolling with” the work as it develops, doing a bit (or a lot) of everything – from the mundane to the creative – on a wide range of both short-term and long-term efforts.
Under the supervision of CSG’s Co-Directors, the she/he/they will work closely with CSG staff, media, customers, funders, consultants, project partners, community partners, and field experts across America to amplify the work of CSG and its networks, in particular our role as the “hub” of the equitable rural development field and the promotion and implementation of the Thrive Rural Framework for equitable rural prosperity.
The Associate Director will contribute to CSG’s reputation for delivering outstanding peer-learning experiences, building issue-focused networks and network resources, developing frameworks that help leaders focus their thinking and action, producing user-focused practical tools and publications, and communicating and disseminating useful information via social media.
The Associate Director’s responsibilities will include a particular emphasis on the Thrive Rural Framework through the CSG website, media releases, promotion of learning events and convenings, and research. She/he/they will also oversee and/or directly write case studies, stories of community success, blog posts, and social media output related to the Thrive Rural content and other activities that help center CSG in the equitable rural development field.

Key Responsibilities
Communications (75-80%). The Associate Director of Communications leads the communication aspects and promotion of CSG’s activities and research.
The Associate Director will:
  • Develop and manage a communications/public relations strategy, focused on cultivating and engaging audiences key to system change (e.g. media, strategic partners and other key influencers), moving practitioners into action, and framing and disseminating field resources to advance thought leadership and innovation on rural community and economic development issues.
  • Oversee development and distribution of CSG’s owned and earned communications assets: website, social media, external stakeholders (agencies and vendors); digital collateral, e-newsletters, blog, podcasts, presentations.
  • Serve as conceptual lead for all stories, reports, blog, newsletter, media releases, web copy and social media that CSG produces or hosts on its website. This includes the ability to write to different audiences where needed.
  • Oversee CSG’s website and social media strategy (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and integrate the use of social networking and other communication innovations to advance CSG’s goals.
  • Manage quality control on all communication products -- including final editing and design.
  • Elevate CSG’s profile and that of its senior leadership, with focus on CSG’s impact and visibility among key audiences, and how CSG’s work links to national priorities.
  • Develop new and strengthen existing strategic partnerships to amplify impact and influence of CSG and our networks.
  • Engage with media contacts and other interested parties related to CSG’s work and/or connecting those contacts to stories and people working in the field that advance CSG’s goals.
  • Work with Aspen central staff and consultants to pitch timely stories, op-eds, and CSG publications to media outlets; vet media opportunities and serve as the point person on media interactions.
  • Compose copy about CSG activities for Aspen Institute publications and website.
  • Assist full-CSG staff effort as we interview people across the country; scour affinity newsletters, the internet and partner activities for ideas, examples and insights that will be useful to people working on the ground in communities and regions.
  • As with all CSG staff, write stories, reports, think pieces, articles, PowerPoint and web copy.
  • Help create or select charts, graphs, tables or displays of information or concepts for use in CSG products.
Convening and Events (10-15%). CSG regularly designs and facilitates public-facing sessions (in-person and virtual) as well as structured action-learning sessions for community, foundation, nonprofit, business, government and issue leaders. These sessions range from one-time 90-minute conference breakout sessions or webinars to one-day workshops, to multi-day conferences and “peer-learning institutes” for cohorts of community teams. The Associate Director will:
  • Engage as a core team member for the design and implementation of public events and peer-learning sessions and convenings including preparation of speakers, selection of participants, background research, leading as necessary on any or all aspects of the effort.
  • Participate as CSG representative at sector convenings and meetings, or in issue-focused networks and communities of practice as needed
Resource Development (5%). The Associate Director of Communications may help author and will conduct final edits of presentations to potential funders, CSG funding proposals, and formal reports to funders.
General. Things emerge and change with Aspen programs, so new and different things crop up all the time. As CSG evolves and takes on new and different things, the Associate Director may perform other duties as assigned.

Key Qualifications
  • At least five years of experience as a communications professional and developing communications strategies, preferably (but not essentially) in the nonprofit sector.
  • Experience in building and sustaining media relationships, shaping opportunities and positioning content to achieve high-impact placements.
  • Stellar writing and editing ability and experience.
  • Formidable presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Facility with the use of social networking tools, blogging and video to accomplish organization objectives.
  • Graphics, design and formatting ability desired.
  • Proven ability to mentor and manage other staff and consultants to perform communications tasks.
  • A strong understanding of and/or experience with community and economic development, economic opportunity and mobility, community engagement, community philanthropy, family asset building, and combating embedded and systemic practices that perpetuate or worsen economic and social inequality.
  • Experience working with rural communities or organizations in the United States highly preferred.
  • Demonstrated ability to work as a part of a high-performing team in a lean organization with multiple priorities.
  • Strong management skills: the ability to plan, organize and follow through with staff.
  • Able to manage your time and priorities like a pro, but humble, happy and comfortable enough to know when you need help – and ask for it.
  • Comfortable interacting with a wide range of people.
  • Solid proficiency in Microsoft Office and G-Suite – and familiarity with MailChimp, Slack, SurveyMonkey, Formstack, Salesforce, Zoom, Hightail, WordPress, Drupal, basic HTML a definite plus.
  • Ability to take verbatim notes a plus.
  • Facility with numbers and quantitative analysis is a plus.
Principal Interactions
Works directly with CSG staff and consultants. Has routine interaction with project partners and constituents, funders and other CSG and Aspen staff.
Position requires travel.  Amount of travel varies depending on time of year and requirements of specific projects.
To apply, a resume, application and cover letter is required. Cover letter should highlight applicant’s specific qualifications and reasons you are interested in this position.
The Institute has implemented a mandatory COVID vaccination policy for all employees who will work at one of our physical locations, attend any of our in-person events or travel on behalf of the Institute. Staff unable to be vaccinated may request an exemption under certain circumstances.

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.
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