About the Ascend Fellowship

Meaningful change starts with investing in leaders. Ascend Fellows work across sectors that affect the vitality and wellness of families, from reinventing systems of care and learning and unlocking capital that opens doors for economic inclusion and justice, to breaking ground with research that changes the course for policies and practices directly affecting communities. Over the course of the 18-month Fellowship, Ascend Fellows commit to:

  • Participating in four Fellowship forums,
  • Creating and carrying out an action plan that amplifies their vision to enable children and families to reach their full potential, and
  • Optimizing monthly individual or peer group leadership, coaching, and check-in calls.

In return, the Ascend Fellowship provides the space, inspiration, and support to develop something meaningful, including limited flexible capital to seed partnerships and aspects of their work. In addition, we leverage the Aspen Institute’s influence and reach to amplify Fellows’ leadership and bold ideas.

Building on a Legacy of Leadership

Since its founding in 1949, the Aspen Institute has invested in the world’s leaders. The Aspen model is based on enduring values and providing a nonpartisan venue for addressing the critical issues of the day. Aspen Institute Fellowships:

  • Cultivate leaders to tackle the great challenges of our times;
  • Consist of 17 Fellowships spanning regions and issues;
  • Include global, entrepreneurial, business, education, and policy leadership programs; and
  • Leverage the creativity, energy, and resources of strong leaders and organizations.

From Reflection to Results

Using a cohort approach, each class of Fellows takes a personal and collective leadership journey that is grounded in the Socratic method and calls for a critical examination of how they live and lead. Having grounded themselves in the values that drive their leadership, Fellows move ahead to focus on strategies for increased impact and innovation that drive results for children and families. To date, our alumni network consists of 98 Fellows who remain an active part of our work.

Dr. Matthew Biel, a 2018 Ascend Fellow, describes the benefits he derived from his leadership journey and how he envisions changes to how various sectors can better enable children and families to thrive.
Dr. Wendy Ellis, a 2018 Ascend Fellow, shares her reflections on what makes the Ascend Fellowship a transformational leadership experience.
Andrea Levere, an inaugural 2012 Ascend Fellow, offers insights into her career trajectory and how the generosity of the Fellowship provided her with the tools to impact change for families and philanthropy.
Laura Huerta Migus, a 2018 Ascend Fellow, says relationships with her peer Fellows helped her steward her industry forward in times of crisis as well as improved resources she was able to give back to her community.

Thank you to our philanthropic Supporters

We sincerely appreciate the generosity of the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, Catto Shaw Foundation, Charlotte Perret Family Trust, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Liz Blake Giving Fund of the Blake Family Foundation, Merle Chambers Fund, Patrice King Brickman, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for their generous support of the Ascend Fellowship programs.

Contact the Ascend Fellowship team

If you would like to learn more about the Ascend Fellowship, please contact our Director of Leadership Programs, Lori Severens, and our Program Manager, James White, at Ascend.Fellowship@aspeninstitute.org.

For any press or media inquiries related to the Ascend Fellowship, please contact our Senior Director of Communications, Shilpi Niyogi (shilpi.niyogi@aspeninstitute.org).

Stories from the Ascend Fellowship