Twenty changemakers from across the country selected for 2023 Ascend Fellowship
Contact: Adam Flango
Communications Officer, Ascend at the Aspen Institute
Washington, DC, Oct. 10, 2023 – Today, the Aspen Institute announced its 2023 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows, 20 leaders from across the United States who are transforming systems so that all children and families can thrive.
The 2023 Ascend Fellows represent 15 states throughout the country. The cohort works across systems and sectors, tackling issues like:
- Helping families cross the economic divide and climb the economic ladder
- Advancing equitable health and housing solutions
- Ensuring access to early education and food security.
The 2023 cohort is co-creating solutions alongside those with lived expertise. The diverse cohort includes Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, Latinx, and other leaders of color.
“Realizing intergenerational prosperity and well-being for all children and their families requires embracing the idea of radical collaboration, and that idea is embodied in the Ascend Fellowship,” said Anne Mosle, vice president of the Aspen Institute and founder and executive director of Ascend. “We are thrilled to see how these 20 changemakers from all corners of the country seize the opportunity to learn from each other to strengthen their collective impact.”
With the addition of 20 new Fellows, the Ascend Fellowship has built a leadership pipeline that now consists of 140 dedicated leaders transforming state systems; launching groundbreaking nonprofits; and conducting field-altering research. This cohort reflects the Ascend Fellowship’s commitment to work across systems and sectors, with the following represented:
- 8 Fellows transforming how nonprofits serve families
- 6 Fellows changing systems through groundbreaking work in academia
- 3 Fellows changing public policy and services
- 3 Fellows disrupting philanthropy
“At the Aspen Institute, we support and facilitate the leadership of those working to address our toughest challenges in communities across the globe,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “Our 20 new Ascend Fellows are leaders who are doing just that—striving, in partnership with others, to drive change for children and families—and we could not be more excited to welcome them into our community.”
These leaders will gather together in person four times over the next 18 months for Fellows Forums, which provide the space for leaders to inspire each other, strategize, and refuel. Each Fellows Forum has a distinct focus:
- Forum I: Leadership & Values
- Forum II: Identity, Narrative, & Perspective
- Forum III: Courage & Integrity
- Forum IV: Purpose & Legacy
With Ascend and their cohort, Ascend Fellows will develop an action plan that aligns with their organizational goals and individual leadership journeys to advance the north star of intergenerational economic mobility and well-being for children and families.
- Dara Eskridge, Executive Director, Invest STL (St. Louis, MO)
- Ashley Goldon, Executive Director, Nation Outside (Detroit, MI)
- Tanguler Gray, Commissioner, Office of Child Support Services, Administration for Children & Families (Grayson, GA)
- Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean and Distinguished Professor, School of Education, American University (Potomac, MD)
- Jerreed Ivanich, Assistant Professor, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, University of Colorado (Aurora, CO)
- Kim Janey, President & CEO, Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) (Boston, MA)
- Raychael Jensen, National Director, Early Childhood and Families, Ballmer Group (Florida)
- Pascual Maestas, Mayor, Town of Taos, New Mexico (Taos, NM)
- Karla Maraccini, Director, Food and Energy Assistance Division, Colorado Department of Human Services (Denver, CO)
- Catherine Monk, Diana Vagelos Professor of Women’s Mental Health, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons (Irvington, NY)
- Amanda Navarro, Executive Director, Convergence Partnership (Brooklyn, NY)
- India Ornelas, Interim Chair and Professor, Department of Health Systems and Population Health, University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
- Cynthia Osborne, Executive Director and Professor of Early Childhood Education and Policy, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
- Stephanie Parra, Executive Director, ALL in Education (Phoenix, AZ)
- Juan Peña, Co-founder, CrossPurpose (Denver, CO)
- Susan Gale Perry, CEO, Child Care Aware of America (Arlington, VA)
- Erica Phillips, Executive Director, National Association for Family Child Care (New Rochelle, NY)
- Richard Raya, Chief Strategy Officer, Mission Economic Development Agency (San Francisco, CA)
- Maria Tarajano Rodman, Executive Director, Valley Settlement, (Glenwood Springs, CO)
- Cary Waubanascum, Assistant Professor, Social Work Professional Programs, University of Wisconsin Green Bay (Green Bay, WI)
About the Ascend Fellowship
With the addition of the 2023 cohort, there are now 140 Ascend Fellows across the country building pathways to intergenerational family prosperity and well-being.
Through the Ascend Fellowship, we invest in a diverse cadre of leaders, well-connected, well-prepared, and powerfully positioned to build the political will, change systems, and drive the policy agenda needed for the prosperity and well-being of all children and families
To date, Ascend Fellows have enacted transformative state policies, advocated for children and families as part of the United States Senate, led revolutionary nonprofits, and conducted groundbreaking academic research. Click here to learn more about previous Ascend Fellows cohorts.
The Ascend Fellowship is made possible through the generous support of the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Catto Shaw Foundation, Charlotte Perret Family Trust, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Liz Blake Giving Fund of the Blake Family Foundation, Merle Chambers Fund, Patrice King Brickman, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Ascend at the Aspen Institute is a catalyst and convener for diverse leaders working across systems and sectors to build intergenerational family prosperity and well-being by intentionally focusing on children and the adults in their lives together. We believe in the power of co-creation. We are a community of leaders — well-connected, well-prepared and well-positioned — building political will that transforms hearts, minds, policies, and practices.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.
We are grateful for the generous support of the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Catto Shaw Foundation, Charlotte Perret Family Trust, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Liz Blake Giving Fund of the Blake Family Foundation, Merle Chambers Fund, Patrice King Brickman, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which makes the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship possible.