Bold Leaders to Collaborate for New Family Economic Security Strategies

February 21, 2018

Aspen Institute Names Inaugural Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community

Contact: Lindsay Broyhill
Ascend at the Aspen Institute
Tel: 202.721.5596 |

Washington, DC, February 21, 2018 – The Aspen Institute announced the selection of six of the boldest organizations leading the family economic security field as the core of the inaugural Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community: The American Enterprise Institute, The Center for Public Justice, Family Values @ Work, Legal Aid at Work, National Partnership for Women and Families, and Urban Institute. The Innovation Community will work collectively to address persistent challenges facing our nation’s families, focusing on issues such as chronic and persistent wage gaps by gender and race, lack of access to paid leave, and quality mental and physical health care.

Thirteen distinguished experts and thought leaders will serve as advisors, providing additional perspective, content expertise, and partnership to the Innovation Community:

  • Gina Adams, Corporate Vice President for Government Affairs, FedEx Corporation
  • Gordon Bronson, Head of Public Affairs, West, WeWork
  • Stuart Butler, Senior Fellow of Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution
  • Maria Gomez, President and CEO, Mary’s Center
  • Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center
  • Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice
  • Kaya Henderson, Director of Global Learning Lab for Community Impact, Teach For All
  • Colleen A. Kraft, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Randall Lane, Editor, Forbes Media
  • Eldar Shafir, Class of 1987 Professor of Behavioral Science and Public Policy, Princeton University
  • Greg Taylor, Senior Vice President of Player Development, National Basketball Association
  • Sarah Enos Watamura, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Denver
  • Sheryl WuDunn, Founder, FullSky Partners

“We are so enthusiastic about our partnership with Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the launch of the Innovation Community, which is a forwardlooking initiative solidly focused on children and families,” said Maisha E. Simmons, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This is an important and timely opportunity for a group of leaders and experts to craft bold ideas to improve the status of children and families across the country.”

The Innovation Community, a learning and action community housed in the Aspen Institute’s Ascend policy program, will develop bold strategies and solutions that strengthen parents’ and families’ employment, economic security, and health and well-being. Fueled by an investment by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Innovation Community will also receive technical assistance to support cutting-edge learning, thinking, and action across policy development, communications, and research that can advance the economic stability and health of children and families in the U.S. Elevating the voices and perspectives of families with low incomes is a critical and central component of this work.

“This partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Ascend – national leaders in advancing health equity and prosperity for families in America – exemplifies the Institute’s history of collaborative leadership,” said Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “We look forward to learning about and sharing the bold strategies and solutions that are crafted by the Innovation Community.”

The grantees and advisors are leaders with strong policy expertise and were selected based on their innovative strategies to achieve greater impact and commitment to working collaboratively. Their proposed contributions to the Innovation Community include:

  • Produce a body of work on policies that will empower lower-income Americans to overcome obstacles and build human capital;
  • Generate public engagement tools focused on promoting self-advocacy for families with low incomes; and
  • Amplify state-based paid family and medical leave solutions to inform and accelerate the movement for a national policy that covers all families.

“Inequality is driving a wedge in the American Dream,” said Anne Mosle, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director at Ascend at the Aspen Institute. “We need modern family support and strengthened policies that build on family experience, on-the-ground innovations, and strong evidence. The Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community will bring together leading experts and unexpected partners to develop new solutions that address the intersection between meaningful work and health – and, most importantly, put children and family well-being at the front and center.”

The work of the Innovation Community will be further supported and amplified by the Ascend Network, which was launched in 2014 and consists of over 210 organizations and 41 Fellows working in 42 states and the District of Columbia. The Ascend Network represents the leading edge of practice, policy, and research efforts focused on a two-generation (2Gen) approach, serving children and parents together for stronger and better family outcomes. Network Partners serve approximately 3.5 million people annually and they are savvy practitioners and policymakers.

The Innovation Community builds on the best of the Aspen Institute’s tradition supporting leaders, building networks, and sharing and sparking innovation. The Innovation Community will bring together senior representatives from the six selected organizations, parents in their programs and communities, and the Advisory Board over the course of nearly two years to craft new strategies, share best practices, ideas, and recommendations to support children and families in the U.S.

The fund is made possible through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information on members of the Innovation Community, visit

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. We embrace a commitment to racial equity and a gender lens. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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