Lori Severens

Director, Leadership Programs

Lori Severens is the director for leadership programs with Ascend at the Aspen Institute, where her creativity, coaching savvy, and knack for collaboration have been invaluable to the growth and impact of our Ascend Fellowship program. In her capacity managing the Fellowship program – a values-based leadership program for diverse leaders working across sectors that impact the vitality and wellness of families – Lori oversaw a significant ten-year expansion of our leadership development work. She has also played a key role in designing and managing the SOAR Fellowship.

In addition to her current work, Lori has co-designed and launched two leadership development programs for US and global leaders. Before joining Ascend, she was based in Tunis, Tunisia, where she managed projects for international organizations and businesses on climate change, violence against women, fragile states, and public health in sub-Saharan Africa. Lori 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 women’s economic issues.

Lori 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 currently lives in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire with her husband and their pets. In her free time, she loves to paint, read, and hike.

Favorite Part of my Role

The best part of my job is being inspired everyday by transformational leaders who believe passionately in families and their dreams. I love creating spaces that give them time to reflect, strategize, and be joyful.

Stories featuring Lori Severens

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
Text over a landscape of South Africa
Tiana C. McCoy – Senior Associate, Operations and Convenings at Ascend – provides an inside look at the experience of a Fellows Forum.
BlogMay 2, 2023
Through careful and rigorous research, we know that there is a better way to approach child support policy to build strong families and communities.
BlogJanuary 11, 2023
Today, the Aspen Institute announced its 2022 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows, 22 leaders from across the United States who are primed to transform sys...
Ascend FellowshipAugust 8, 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
Poverty is the result of poor policy choices. These choices reflect our national values and decide who deserves access to opportunity to achieve their...
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 mobilizin...
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 ...
BlogJanuary 14, 2021
This letter was shared with our Ascend Fellows, Network Partners, and community.  Hello Ascenders:    Today is exactly one week si...
BlogNovember 10, 2020
Infant and parent brains and bodies undergo rapid growth and transformation during the transition to parenting, presenting a unique opportunity to pos...
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 th...
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 throu...
BlogJune 3, 2020
As the hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security, Ascen...
BlogMay 27, 2020
As the hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security, Ascen...
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 f...
BlogApril 23, 2020