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Lori Severens

Assistant Director for Leadership and Design

Washington, DC


Lori Severens is the assistant director for leadership and design with Ascend at the Aspen Institute. She┬ámanages Ascend’s national and Colorado-focused 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 in a variety of positions for the U.S. Agency for International Development, both in Cairo, Egypt and Washington, DC, managing 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 lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with family.