Lori Severens

Director, Leadership Programs

Lori Severens is the director for leadership programs with Ascend at the Aspen Institute. She manages Ascend’s Fellowship programs, which are values-based leadership programs for diverse leaders with the vision to ensure the American dream passes from one generation to the next. In addition to her current work on the Ascend Fellowship, she has co-designed and launched two leadership development programs for US and global leaders.

Prior to joining Ascend, Severens was the regional director for North Africa and the Middle East for a consulting firm based in Tunis, Tunisia. In that role, she managed projects for international organizations and businesses on climate change, violence against women, fragile states, and public health in sub-Saharan Africa.

Severens has also served with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Cairo, Egypt and Washington, DC, where she was responsible for regional youth leadership, communications, and civil society programs in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. She began her career at the Center for Policy Alternatives, working with state legislators and advocates on economic empowerment for women, domestically and internationally.

Severens received her B.A. in history and Spanish from Mary Baldwin College and her M.A. in international relations and economics from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She is a certified professional coach and lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with her family.

Stories featuring Lori Severens

Poverty is the result of poor policy choices. These choices reflect our national values and decide who deserves access to opportunity to achieve their dreams and who does not. This flawed mindset has led to persistent inequities and a hollowing of our shared humanity. Change is possible. The choice is ours.
Ascend FellowshipJanuary 21, 2022
In order for America to thrive, our families must thrive. This is the understanding of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, a program dedicated to mobilizing systems, policy, and social impact leaders who are working to create a world where every family passes a legacy of well-being from one generation to the next. This week, the Institute announced that 19 leaders were selected for the 2021 Ascend Fellowship, an 18-month-long program that brings together innovators from diverse backgrounds to build political will, change systems, and drive policy that benefits the well-being and prosperity of all children and families in the US.
Ascend FellowshipOctober 7, 2021
With eyes wide open and steady resolve, the importance of leadership, courage, and conviction can’t be understated. We need leaders to pull us into a post-pandemic world, crack the walls of systemic racism so they come crashing down, and build a society that collaborates to create opportunity for those often blocked from it. Reimagining a …

The Time Is Always Right To Do What Is Right Read More »

BlogJanuary 14, 2021
This letter was shared with our Ascend Fellows, Network Partners, and community.  Hello Ascenders:    Today is exactly one week since nearly 160 million Americans cast their vote. This will go down as one of the most historic and hotly contested presidential elections our nation has ever seen. In the face of unprecedented challenges, people, especially Black, Brown and Indigenous …

Our Collective Challenge and Opportunity Has Never Been Greater  Read More »

BlogNovember 10, 2020
Infant and parent brains and bodies undergo rapid growth and transformation during the transition to parenting, presenting a unique opportunity to positively impact two generations. In the 2015 report Two Open Windows: Infant and Parent Biologic Change, Drs. Pilyoung Kim and Sarah Watamura (also an Ascend Fellow) of the University of Denver highlighted research supporting …

New Research Shows Parenting Brain Changes in All Caregivers Read More »

BlogSeptember 29, 2020
The current health and economic crisis along with the heightened awareness of the indisputable impacts of systemic racism make it clear that now is the time for a transformative paradigm shift that places children and families at the center of our federal and state systems. Advancing the two-generation (2Gen) approach, which builds family well-being by …

GAO Report Calls on HHS to Support State 2Gen Approaches Read More »

BlogJuly 23, 2020
Aspen Autumn
Dear Ascend Community: Ascend is committed to the work of anti-racism. Seeing and experiencing week after week what Black people and families go through, and the threat of violence they are subjected to on a daily basis, is completely unacceptable and must end. We stand against this ongoing oppression and the white supremacy that breeds …

Statement and Call to Action: Condemn Police Violence and Structural Racism Read More »

BlogJune 3, 2020
As the hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security, Ascend is intensifying its efforts in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to highlight 2Gen solutions that Ascend Fellows and the Ascend Network have developed over the past decade to help families reach their potential. Ascend is examining how new solutions, …

WEBINAR: Parent Voice During COVID-19: Maintaining Feedback Loops Read More »

BlogMay 27, 2020
As the hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security, Ascend is intensifying its efforts in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to highlight 2Gen solutions that Ascend Fellows and the Ascend Network have developed over the past decade to help families reach their potential. Ascend is examining how new solutions, …

WEBINAR: Telehealth and 2Gen: What are the Opportunities and Where are the Innovations Read More »

BlogApril 30, 2020
As we respond to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19, Ascend’s founding mission to build an intergenerational cycle of opportunity and family prosperity is more urgent than ever. This is a moment of profound disruption, but it is also a time for innovation. We at Ascend are redoubling our efforts to highlight 2Gen solutions …

2Gen COVID-19 Webinar Series: Building a Response for the Future Read More »

BlogApril 23, 2020
Aspen Trees
Ascend staff at our headquarters in Washington, DC are teleworking, according to Aspen Institute guidance. Ascend’s convenings have been moved to a virtual platform, postponed, or cancelled through April, and we will continue to communicate changes and updates to convening participants. We are online and checking emails, so please continue to contact us for any questions and …

Ascend’s COVID-19 Response Read More »

BlogApril 9, 2020
In a time of crisis, leaders emerge. The Harvard Business School underscored this point with an article by Professor Bill George on 10 outstanding leaders who have stepped up during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It’s especially important as we honor women leaders who have broken barriers during Women’s History Month that we also recognize women …

Coronavirus SHEroes: Building a Better Future for Families Read More »

BlogMarch 30, 2020
Anne Mosle, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, delivered a keynote address to the City Club of Cleveland in Ohio about the two-generation approach on Thursday, February 27. Following her lecture, she also participated in a question and answer session with present and online guests who viewed the conversation via livestream. The City Club is a non-partisan free speech forum that has convened world …

Shifting Mindsets: The Promise of a Two-Generation Approach Read More »

BlogMarch 24, 2020
Dealing with hurdles to access quality healthcare takes parents away from work and school and limits their ability to increase their own financial resources. Difficulty tracking the needs and outcomes of families makes it even harder to forge a clear path toward economic mobility. To address these barriers, Ascend at the Aspen Institute gathered state leaders, practitioners, researchers, …

New Brief: Aspen Early Childhood and Health Forum Read More »

BlogMarch 23, 2020
“It really is the agency and dignity that cash restores.” – Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard to Opportunities, Ascend Fellow, and Family Prosperity Partner We recently sat down in the studio with Dr. Aisha Nyandoro and Ebony Beals, business owner and Springboard to Opportunities’ participant, to talk about how cash shared with mothers with low …

New Podcast Episode: Cash Matters Read More »

BlogJanuary 10, 2020