Pherabe Kolb is the Aspen Institute’s Vice President of Operational Effectiveness & Enterprise Risk Management. She was appointed to this new role in October 2018 to lead the mitigation of risk that could endanger the Institute’s staff, assets, or reputation, and to improve the quality and efficiency of the Institute’s operational and mission-enabling functions. She oversees internal audits, enterprise risk management, business continuity and resilience management, and leads the development and implementation of improvements to the Institute’s financial, administrative, and program support functions.
Pherabe joined the Institute in November 2015 as the Managing Director of Communications & Public Affairs where she oversaw websites and digital content, social media, video production, press outreach, graphic design, print publications and audio/visual services. In this role she oversaw a team of 23 and a $3.8 million budget, setting overall strategy and messaging objectives, and leading the delivery of communications services for all Institute programs and major public events, including the Aspen Ideas Festival. Key accomplishments during her tenure included producing the Institute’s first promotional video, launching Aspen Insight a feature-style podcast to promote the Institute’s work and its impact, and overhauling the Institute’s audio-visual services function to improve the in-person event experience and the quality of video and audio content shared with online audiences.
Pherabe came to the Institute from the Smithsonian Institution, where she spent 13 years in central leadership positions across multiple functional areas, serving in government relations, financial and administrative management, brand strategy and marketing, and internal communications. She also did two stints in operational leadership at the program level to jumpstart strategic planning and program development for stalled initiatives. Key accomplishments in these roles included leading a year-long Institution-wide strategic planning process and coordinating a subsequent reorganization to align to the plan’s new objectives; leading the development of the Institution’s first-ever brand strategy, launching a national advertising campaign, and building a new marketing division; managing the response to several congressional investigations into the Institution’s governance and internal controls and then leading the coordination of reforms based on the recommendations; managing the process to revise the Institution’s indirect cost rates; developing a system for the comprehensive review and approval of new policies and directives; and helping to build a financial and operational strategy to support the launch of $1.5 billion fundraising campaign.
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Pherabe was an Associate in the Federal Affairs and Legislative Practice at Piper Rudnick LLP (formerly Verner Liipfert) and a reporter for Congressional Quarterly covering legislative action in the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees. She began her career at the Close Up Foundation, educating young people about civics and government.
Pherabe graduated Cum Laude with High Honors from Dartmouth College with a B.A. (1994) in History, and holds a J.D. (2002) from the Northwestern University School of Law where she was the Coordinating Articles Editor of the Northwestern University Law Review. She is admitted to the Bar in the District of Columbia and Maryland.