Assistant Director for Leadership and Design
Lori Severens is the assistant director for leadership and design with Ascend at the Aspen Institute. The Aspen Institute’s mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. Ascend is a policy program of the Institute and the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security.
At Ascend, Lori manages the Ascend Fellowship, a values-based leadership program for diverse leaders with the vision to ensure the American dream passes from one generation to the next. Lori also oversees Ascend’s strategic communications efforts. 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, Lori was the regional director for North Africa and the Middle East for an international development 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.
Lori 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.
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 lives in Takoma Park, Maryland with her husband, two children, and their pets.