With family voices at the center, Ascend brought together leaders from across key issues and sectors at the Aspen ThinkXChange 2019: Advancing Family Prosperity on October 15-18 in Aspen, Colorado, to share bold ideas, generate new strategies, and identify critical partnerships to move families toward opportunity in the decade ahead.

The convening highlighted inherent strengths of families with low incomes while bringing new and established leaders to conversations they might not otherwise have an opportunity to join, such as the barriers facing students who are parents and low-wage workers. This ThinkXChange featured a focus on the learnings of the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community, a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to identify new and different ways to ensure families in America find opportunity and thrive.

You may find more details on the agenda, publications and materials, and videos below. This is Ascend’s fourth signature ThinkXChange, with previous convenings held in 2012, 2014, and 2015. 

Program Book

Check out the ThinkXChange program book here, which includes all session descriptions and a participant list.

New Publication

Ascend published the Family Prosperity Innovation Community Index: a collection of resources, publications, tools, webinars, and more, all developed by Family Prosperity partners.

Live Blogs

Ascend posted two blogs capturing live takeaways from the convening here:


Ascend collected more than 80 materials during ThinkXChange, including session presentations and publications, from participants. Check out this Dropbox folder to find materials, organized by the day they were presented.


Transformational Narratives

Five Leaders in the Ascend Network — from the Ascend Fellowship, Family Prosperity, the Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative —  relayed their experiences in a “TED Talk”-style plenary session to share their work to advance family prosperity. Start the full playlist below or click here to view each story.

  • Anthony Barrows, Managing Director, Ideas42
  • Lesley Del Rio, Program Manager, Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver
  • Gayle Goldin, FMLI Campaign Advisor, Family Values @ Work
  • Sherece West-Scantlebury, President and Chief Executive Officer, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
  • Henry Wilde, Chief Executive Officer, Acelero Learning


Ascend livestreamed the two morning plenaries on Family Prosperity:

Centering Family Voice & Equity: The Prosperity Landscape, with three leading thinkers and researchers on the racial wealth gap:

  • Kilolo Kijakazi, Institute Fellow, Urban Institute 
  • Jennifer Richeson, Philip R. Allen Professor of Psychology, Yale University 
  • Lola Adedokun, Program Director for Child Well-Being and Director for the African Health Initiative, Doris Duke Foundation 
  • Moderator: Anne Mosle, Vice President & Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute 

Advancing Family Prosperity: Innovations Ready to Spread, with six Family Prosperity partners on equity and family-supportive policies like paid family leave.

  • How do employers listen to and respond to families? 
    • Stephanie Summers, Chief Executive Officer, Center for Public Justice 
    • Mary Bogle, Principal Research Associate, Urban Institute 
  • What’s next for paid leave? 
    • Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow of Paid Leave Policy and Strategy, New America 
    • Pronita Gupta, Director Job Quality, Center for Law and Social Policy 
  • How do we advance family-informed policies in a divisive political climate? 
    • Sharon Terman, Director of the Work and Family Program, Legal Aid at Work 
    • Erika Moritsugu, Vice President, National Partnership for Women and Families 
    • Moderator: Marjorie Sims, Managing Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute