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Portia Polk

Program Associate

Washington, DC


Portia Polk is the program associate for Ascend at the Aspen Institute, providing support for Ascend’s postsecondary achievement and innovation work. Portia comes to Ascend with experience in educational equity and advocacy for first-generation and minority students.

Prior to joining Ascend, Portia served as a program coordinator at Elevate, a grant-writing consulting working to develop sustainable development practices for nonprofits across the United States. 

Previously, Portia worked as a high school college advisor for the Carolina College Advising Corps, a nonprofit that uses the near-peer model to place recent college graduates in high schools across NC to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college, and underrepresented high school students who enter and complete higher education. Portia has also interned in the education department at the Office of Management and Budget and she has served as a community development intern/English teacher for an organization in San Miguel, Panamá. 

Portia received her B.A. in Anthropology and Peace, War, and Defense from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management from the American University School of Public Affairs.