Kirsten Lodal Named 2015 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow

By LIFT on March 8, 2015

Categories: News

Diverse Leaders Around US Fuel Advances in Opportunity for Low-Income Families
2015 class of Ascend Fellows named for their groundbreaking work

Washington, DC, March 9, 2015 – The Aspen Institute announced today that Kirsten Lodal has been selected to join the 2015 class of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows. The Ascend Fellowship invests in diverse
 leaders from a range of sectors who have breakthrough ideas
to build economic security, educational success, and health and well-being for low-income families in the US.

For bios and photos of all 21 extraordinary leaders, visit

“Poverty and inequality are the central economic, political, and moral issues of our time,” said Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute. “The Ascend Fellowship is part of the Aspen Institute’s commitment to advancing opportunity and equality in the America.”

These leaders are on the front lines of new solutions to bridge inequality for children and their parents. Among their ideas and innovations:

  • accelerated ‘bootcamps’ that open up training for high demand jobs to students lacking time and resources;
  • systemic shifts in state human services and early education, such as the redesign of child care subsidies; and
  • brain science research on the sensitive early months of life and parenting for families that have experienced trauma or toxic stress.

Each of these leaders will fuel their work with a two-generation approach that invests in children and their parents together.

These leaders reflect the diversity and talent of America, across gender, race and ethnicity, geography, and sector:

  • 13 women; 8 men
  • 52% people of color
  • Represent 18 states
  • Serve 348,000 community college and four-year institution students
  • Are in public service in 4 states, stewarding $4.2 billion in public resources
  • Provide direct services to more than 78,000 families
  • Steward $521 million in philanthropic resources

The 2015 Ascend Fellows join the vanguard of a national network to advance opportunity for low-income families across the country. This year’s class includes state human services and early education system leaders, forward thinking post-secondary and workforce leaders, breakthrough researchers in health and early care and education, philanthropic leaders, and innovative practitioners across multiple sectors.

“The Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows are diverse, entrepreneurial leaders implementing bold ideas to change the trajectory of low-income families’ lives throughout the US,” said Anne Mosle, vice president and executive director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute. “Too many families are struggling, and it is time for a new generation of leaders who have the vision, innovation and drive to develop a portfolio of solutions focused on building an intergenerational cycle of opportunity.

The Ascend Fellowship is a values-based leadership program that builds on the best of the Aspen Institute leadership tradition. Ascend Fellows learn from outstanding faculty; participate in signature Institute convenings and platforms; tap powerful networks of social justice and other leaders; and carry out action plans that advance their innovations and solutions on behalf of children and families.

2015 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows:

John Annis, Senior Vice President of Community Investment at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County (Sarasota, FL)

Dr. Laurie Miller Brotman, Bezos Family Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Development and Professor of Population Health and Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine (New York, NY)

Melvin W. Carter III, Director of the Office of Early Learning at the Minnesota Department of Education (Minneapolis, MN)

Betsy Delgado, Vice President of Mission Advancement at the Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana (Indianapolis, IN)

Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for the Maricopa County Community College District (Phoenix, AZ)

Dr. Raquel Hatter, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services (Nashville, TN)

John Hudson III, President of the Alabama Power Foundation (Birmingham, AL)

Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (Hartford, CT)

Kevin Jordan, Senior Vice-President for National Programs at the Local Initiatives Support Coalition (Washington, DC)

Kirsten Lodal, Co-Founder and CEO of LIFT (Washington, DC)

Ann Kalass, CEO of Starfish Family Services (Inkster, MI)

Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics of University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (Madison, WI)

Dr. Aisha Nyandoro, founding Executive Director of Springboard To Opportunities (Jackson, MS)

Dr. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, President of Queens College of the City University of New York (New York, NY)

Dr. William Serrata, President of the El Paso County Community College District (El Paso, TX)

Dr. Darius Tandon, Associate Professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Chicago, IL)

Dr. Sarah Enos Watamura, director of the Child Health and Development Lab and associate professor at the University of Denver (Denver, CO)

Dr. Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, President and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (Little Rock, AR)

Roxane White, President and CEO of Nurse-Family Partnership (Denver, CO)

Ann Silverberg Williamson, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Human Services (Salt Lake City, UT)

Dr. Katharine W. Winograd, President of Central New Mexico Community College (Albuquerque, NM)

LIFT helps lift families out of poverty for good. LIFT pairs rigorously trained Advocates with committed families to build the strong personal, social and financial foundations they need to get ahead. By setting their own goals and working hard to achieve them, families are equipped to get a decent job, a safe home and a quality education for themselves and their children. They also build a support network, confidence in what they bring to the table and the skills to manage tough times in the future. LIFT operates resource centers in six cities across the nation where members of the community can come get help: Boston, Chicago, DC, New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Nearly 100,000 Members in six major cities have already committed to do the hard work needed to achieve their goals–and it is working. LIFT is putting an average of $1,300 back into the pockets of struggling families so that they can make ends meet. Learn more at

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move vulnerable children and their parents toward educational success and economic security. We take a two-generation approach to our work – focusing on children and their parents together. We bring a gender and a racial equity lens to our analysis. 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

Ascend at The Aspen Institute is grateful to the following institutions and individuals for their ongoing philanthropic support and partnership: Ann B. Friedman, Bezos Family Foundation, Chambers Family Fund, Charlotte Perret Family Trust, The Ford Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Rocksprings Foundation, Scott and Patrice King Brickman Family Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


Patience B Peabody, Director of Communications