Dan Porterfield

President and CEO

Daniel R. Porterfield is President and CEO of theĀ Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. He has been recognized as a visionary strategist, transformational leader, devoted educator, and passionate advocate for justice and opportunity.

At the Aspen Institute, Porterfield has worked to build upon the organizationā€™s legacy of societal influence and commitment to human dignity while positioning it for a future where it can make its most profound and lasting impacts.

In recent years, the Institute has launched new initiatives focused on criminal justice reform, science and society, economic inclusion, grassroots and community leadership, and more. In the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, where the Institute was founded and where it maintains its Aspen Meadows campus, it has broadened its partnerships with the local community through theĀ Hurst Community InitiativeĀ and deepened its connection with its aesthetic and cultural heritage through the creation of aĀ $20 million educational facility and creativity corridorĀ celebrating the works of Bauhaus masterĀ Herbert Bayer, one of the founders of the Aspen Institute.

To respond to one of the most urgent challenges of our time, the Institute created theĀ Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive EconomyĀ (APIE) in 2019 with a founding partner, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and a $26 million multi-year commitment from Mastercard. Through APIE, the Institute is bringing together its networks and programs with a diverse range of public, private, and nonprofit leaders to help reconstruct our global economy so that it drives greater security, opportunity, and resilience for all.

Prior to leading the Aspen Institute, Porterfield served for seven years as the President ofĀ Franklin & Marshall College, a national liberal arts college founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1787. Under his leadership, Franklin & Marshall set records for applications, fundraising, and fellowships; developed cutting edge new centers for student wellness, career services, and faculty excellence; and constructed a new athletics stadium and visual arts center.

Porterfield led Franklin & Marshall in the development of theĀ Next Generation InitiativeĀ talent strategy, through which the College strengthened its academic excellence and competitiveness by tripling its percentage of incoming low-income students and more than doubling its percentage of domestic students of color. For this work, Porterfield and Franklin & Marshall received national recognition and visibility, including high-profile coverage inĀ TheĀ Washington PostĀ andĀ The New York Times,Ā on theĀ PBS NewsHour, and at several White House summits of educational leaders. The Next Generation Initiative also helped to galvanize the creation of a national project of the Aspen Instituteā€™s College Excellence Program, theĀ American Talent InitiativeĀ (ATI). Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the ATI has a national goal of enrolling 50,000 more high-achieving low-income students in leading institutions by 2025.

Before assuming the presidency at Franklin & Marshall, Porterfield served as Senior Vice President for Strategic Development and as an award-winning professor of English at his alma mater,Ā Georgetown University. In this role, he led Georgetownā€™s institutional positioning, strategy formation, communications, government relations, community relations, and intercollegiate athletics. He also spearheaded the Universityā€™s relationship with Washington, DC Public Schools and founded a number of Georgetown programs for immigrant children, DC students, and marginalized youth.

Prior to coming to Georgetown in 1997, Porterfield served for four years as communications director and chief speechwriter for the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Porterfield has received awards and recognitions from theĀ KIPP Foundation, theĀ ā€œI Have A Dreamā€ Foundation, theĀ Posse Foundation, and theĀ Kaplan Educational Foundation. He serves on the National Board of Directors ofĀ Teach For AmericaĀ and on the board of theĀ Education Trust, and is a former trustee of theĀ College Board. He was named a White House Champion of Change in 2016 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.

Porterfield earned B.A. degrees from Georgetown and Oxfordā€”where he was a Rhodes Scholarā€”and his Ph.D. from The City University of New York Graduate Center, where he was awarded a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and wrote his dissertation on the poetry of American prisoners. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Wake Forest University, Miami Dade College, Queens University of Charlotte, Elizabethtown College, and Mt. Aloysius College.

A native of the City of Baltimore, where he was raised by a single mother at the height of the civil rights movement, Porterfield and his wife, attorney Karen A. Herrling, live in Virginia and have three children.

Stories featuring Dan Porterfield

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
I started off the 2022 Aspen Ideas Festival atĀ Aspen WordsĀ Book Ball, a passion project of Isa CattoĀ and Daniel Shaw.
Ascend FellowshipJune 25, 2022
This year, the Aspen Idea Festival returns to in-person programming at our campus in the Rocky Mountains June 25 - July 1, 2022.
Ascend FellowshipJune 15, 2022
Share Our Strength
Last week, Ascend Managing Director, Marjorie Sims, had the privilege of moderating an Aspen Institute roundtable conversation with Billy Shore, found...
BlogDecember 19, 2018

Convenings Featuring Dan Porterfield

Location: Virtual & In-Person in Washington, DC
Over the course of two days, our discussions focused on bold, equitable, and pragmatic strategies for building prosperity and well-being for all families. Sessions include insights from the latest two-generation (2Gen) family data, examples of...
ConveningApril 11, 2023 ā€“ April 12, 2023
Location: Washington, DC & Virtual
Since 2012, Ascend has nurtured 2Gen solutions in Aspenā€™s own neighborhood, growing a Network of leaders and partners in Colorado and the District of Columbia with a focus on capacity-building, collaboration, and community impact. Here, leaders...
ConveningApril 12, 2023
Location: St. Regis Hotel Courtyard (Aspen, CO) & Live Webcast (virtual)
Many places we look, we are stuck. Stuck in old ways and old thinking. We are burdened by zero-sum thinking and surrounded by the word ‘canā€™t.’ Our best way to get unstuck is to follow and stand with visionary leaders that donā€™t get...
ConveningJune 28, 2022
Location: Virtual (Zoom)
Dr. Rohini Anandā€™s book,Ā Leading Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Guide for Systemic Change in Multinational Organizations,Ā offers five proven principles for organizations to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion with a nuanced...
ConveningJanuary 27, 2022