Aspen VisionXChange 2023

VisionXChange centers the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows in provocative and inspirational conversations about transforming our nation’s hearts, minds, policies, and practices to ensure all children and families thrive

Agenda & Sessions

At Aspen VisionXChange, we aimed to:

  • DREAM big and get hard things done, so children and families can prosper
  • DISRUPT the way things have always been done and stand up against the naysayers to show what’s possible when we center well-being across our systems
  • DELIGHT and find joy as we navigate trying times

Experience for yourself the magic of VisionXChange in these daily recaps:

Day 1

Sunday, July 30

During the opening dinner of the 2023 VisionXChange, Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, provided opening remarks and context-setting welcome before three short FRESH talks embodying the week’s themes: Dream, Disrupt, Delight. Following these inspirational short talks, Anne Mosle provided a plenary speech.

6:00 pm  - 8:00 pm MT

Ascend Fellow Dr. Nathan Chomilo, Medical Director at Minnesota’s Medicaid and MinnesotaCares programs, asks: Is the blueprint we are following to reconstruct our healthcare system just? Chomilo suggests we need to stop wallpaper over cracks in our healthcare system, but build equity into the walls.

Birth has the power to heal and transform our economy. In a beloved economy, how we enter the world matters. Connection, cooperation, and care are ethical and economic priorities. Ascend Fellow Leseliey Welch examines what that could look like.

Ascend Fellow Dr. Michelle Sarche explains that “Native people today inherited intergenerational trauma, but are also heirs to intergenerational strength.” She issues a challenge to learn from Indigenous wisdom, find your own call, and do what the moment asks of you.

Day 2

Monday, July 31

What happens when we dream big about how children grow up surrounded by love? What if we challenge assumptions about what families need? We’ll hear from leaders from around the country who are disrupting systems to reclaim ways for children to thrive, families to feel a deep sense of connection with each other and their communities, and all to have opportunities to prosper and be well. Sessions include:

4:10 pm  - 4:30 pm MT

Mental health is on our minds and our lips, not hiding in the shadows, and we’re doing something to boost it. Hear from leaders who are making strong mental health a way of life – in state systems, in communities, and in our public spaces – instead of a crisis.

4:35 pm  - 5:00 pm MT

What would it take to transform American politics, to build consensus and bridge our widening divides? Hear from leaders with bold yet practical dreams for our democracy and communities, dreams that see the best in each of us and embody pathways to truly representative government.

5:00 pm  - 5:25 pm MT

Children need to be connected to be well – to family, community, Earth, our ancestors, future generations, culture, spirit – and most importantly, to themselves. How might early childhood and education be different if we were more connected to family, community, and culture? 

5:25 pm  - 5:55 pm MT

When you dial the number 844-543-8569, you’ll hear something revolutionary: joyful Black birthing stories. The Black Birth Joyline, presented by Birthright podcast, is a reminder that although the narrative surrounding Black maternal health can be one of pain, there is a powerful movement underway full of joy and possibility. Come hear the many ways leaders are recentering joy in becoming a parent. 

Day 3

Tuesday, August 1

“Living our best lives” has become a cliche — but health, wellness, and joy should not be privileged states of being. Hear from leaders with new ideas for tackling today’s mental health crisis, so wellness becomes the status quo. Delight in the joy that should surround the Black birthing experience and the dreams families have for themselves right here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Sessions include:

3:05 pm  - 3:35 pm MT

What dreams do we all have for our children? What do we do differently when we recognize everyone is deserving, that parents do the best they can in challenging circumstances, and that children thrive when they’re with those who love them? 

3:35 pm  - 3:55 pm MT

Everyone deserves the opportunity to find their talents, support their families, and be the best version of themselves. Hear how leaders and communities are using art, and their voices and power to challenge perceptions and build ways for families and communities to thrive and use their voices towards the change they seek. Afterwards, visit the mural Bimmer is creating onsite.

3:55 pm  - 4:25 pm MT

Economic disparities stifle opportunity. What are the big ideas to change the flow of capital – from wealth building to redesigning philanthropy – to put families and communities on a path to well-being?

4:25 pm  - 4:55 pm MT

How do we ensure that our communities truly reflect families’ aspirations for well-being and joy for themselves and their children – dreams in all their complexity and hope? We join local leaders in conversation with parents from Valley Settlement, a 2Gen approach to improving early childhood educational outcomes and providing immigrant families in the Roaring Fork Valley the support they need to thrive.


Kwame Anku

CEO and Chairman

Black Star Fund

Deana Around Him

Research Scholar

Child Trends

Anthony Barrows

Managing Partner & Founder, Center for Behavioral Design & Social Justice

Project Evident

Laurie Brotman

Bezos Family Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Development

Department of Population Health NYU School of Medicine

Melvin Carter


City of Saint Paul

Twylla Dillion

Executive Director

HealthConnect One

Joe Hobot

President and CEO

American Indian OIC

Laura Huerta Migus

Deputy Director

Institute of Museum and Library Services