Bold Leaders To Collaborate for New Family Economic Security Strategies

February 21, 2018 | Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community, Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lindsay Broyhill

Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Tel: 202.721.5596

Bold Leaders To Collaborate for New Family Economic Security Strategies

Aspen Institute Names Inaugural Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community

Washington, DC – The Aspen Institute announced the selection of six of the boldest organizations leading the family economic security field as the core of the inaugural Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community: The American Enterprise Institute, The Center for Public Justice, Family Values @ Work, Legal Aid at Work, National Partnership for Women and Families, and Urban Institute. The Innovation Community will work collectively to address persistent challenges facing our nation’s families, focusing on issues such as chronic and persistent wage gaps by gender and race, lack of access to paid leave, and quality mental and physical health care.

Thirteen distinguished experts and thought leaders will serve as advisors, providing additional perspective, content expertise, and partnership to the Innovation Community:

  • Gina Adams, Corporate Vice President for Government Affairs, FedEx Corporation
  • Gordon Bronson, Head of Public Affairs, West, WeWork
  • Stuart Butler, Senior Fellow of Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution
  • Maria Gomez, President and CEO, Mary’s Center
  • Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center
  • Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice
  • Kaya Henderson, Director of Global Learning Lab for Community Impact, Teach For All
  • Colleen A. Kraft, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Randall Lane, Editor, Forbes Media
  • Eldar Shafir, Class of 1987 Professor of Behavioral Science and Public Policy, Princeton University
  • Greg Taylor, Senior Vice President of Player Development, National Basketball Association
  • Sarah Enos Watamura, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Denver
  • Sheryl WuDunn, Founder, FullSky Partners

“We are so enthusiastic about our partnership with Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the launch of the Innovation Community, which is a forwardlooking initiative solidly focused on children and families,” said Maisha E. Simmons, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This is an important and timely opportunity for a group of leaders and experts to craft bold ideas to improve the status of children and families across the country.”

The Innovation Community, a learning and action community housed in the Aspen Institute’s Ascend policy program, will develop bold strategies and solutions that strengthen parents’ and families’ employment, economic security, and health and well-being. Fueled by an investment by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Innovation Community will also receive technical assistance to support cutting-edge learning, thinking, and action across policy development, communications, and research that can advance the economic stability and health of children and families in the U.S. Elevating the voices and perspectives of families with low incomes is a critical and central component of this work.

“This partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Ascend – national leaders in advancing health equity and prosperity for families in America – exemplifies the Institute’s history of collaborative leadership,” said Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “We look forward to learning about and sharing the bold strategies and solutions that are crafted by the Innovation Community.”

The grantees and advisors are leaders with strong policy expertise and were selected based on their innovative strategies to achieve greater impact and commitment to working collaboratively. Their proposed contributions to the Innovation Community include:

  • Produce a body of work on policies that will empower lower-income Americans to overcome obstacles and build human capital;
  • Generate public engagement tools focused on promoting self-advocacy for families with low incomes; and
  • Amplify state-based paid family and medical leave solutions to inform and accelerate the movement for a national policy that covers all families.

“Inequality is driving a wedge in the American Dream,” said Anne Mosle, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director at Ascend at the Aspen Institute. “We need modern family support and strengthened policies that build on family experience, on-the-ground innovations, and strong evidence. The Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community will bring together leading experts and unexpected partners to develop new solutions that address the intersection between meaningful work and health – and, most importantly, put children and family well-being at the front and center.”

The work of the Innovation Community will be further supported and amplified by the Ascend Network, which was launched in 2014 and consists of over 210 organizations and 41 Fellows working in 42 states and the District of Columbia. The Ascend Network represents the leading edge of practice, policy, and research efforts focused on a two-generation (2Gen) approach, serving children and parents together for stronger and better family outcomes. Network Partners serve approximately 3.5 million people annually and they are savvy practitioners and policymakers.

The Innovation Community builds on the best of the Aspen Institute’s tradition supporting leaders, building networks, and sharing and sparking innovation. The Innovation Community will bring together senior representatives from the six selected organizations, parents in their programs and communities, and the Advisory Board over the course of nearly two years to craft new strategies, share best practices, ideas, and recommendations to support children and families in the U.S.

The fund is made possible through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information on members of the Innovation Community, visit

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. We embrace a commitment to racial equity and a gender lens. For more information, visit

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 is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


Related Posts

Graphic with text that says "Announcing the 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners" and features Ascend's 2023 Parent Advisors against a blue backdrop.
Today, Ascend is excited to announce our 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners, six organizations and institutions from across the country wh...
Press ReleasesJanuary 23, 2024
Ascend at the Aspen Institute today launched a report, A 2Gen Approach in Minnesota: A State Case Study for Systems Leaders & Policymakers, which deta...
Press ReleasesJanuary 9, 2024
The 2Gen Accelerator Community is a new effort bringing together 15 local and national organizations with best practices for two-generation (2Gen) or ...
Press ReleasesDecember 6, 2023
Headshots of 4 Fellows
Today, the Aspen Institute announced its 2023 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows, 20 leaders from across the United States who are transforming systems so...
Ascend FellowshipOctober 10, 2023
Graphic showing a student's hand holding a graduation cap against a blue background.
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute announced that four community colleges from across the United States have been selected as partners to its Postse...
Press ReleasesOctober 3, 2023
100 Ascend Fellows will join the Aspen community for two afternoons of conversations aimed at Building Well-Being for Children and Families and Priori...
Press ReleasesJuly 25, 2023
Ascend at the Aspen Institute is excited to announce the launch of the 2023 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund, which will provide financial resources and...
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsJuly 20, 2023
Cover of the digital chartbook, "We Are Here Too: Who Are the 1 Million Fathers in College?". A student father in a graduation cap and gown is seated with his son and daughter, smiling.
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted live...
Press ReleasesJune 16, 2023
We’ve selected four projects from the 2021 Class of Fellows that show impressive potential in both their scope and capacity to address timely issues...
Ascend FellowshipMay 25, 2023
The Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community Phase II sought to find and foster the most effective and innovative strategies to accelerate social ...
Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityMay 3, 2023
Photo of student parent Waukecha Wilkerson with her family at her graduation ceremony.
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted live...
Press ReleasesMay 3, 2023
In a blog post authored by Trene Hawkins of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ascend's Managing Director Marjorie Sims shares how Ascend harnesses paren...
Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityApril 6, 2023
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted live...
Press ReleasesMarch 20, 2023
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute announced that eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (T...
Press ReleasesDecember 13, 2022
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted live...
Press ReleasesDecember 1, 2022