Digital Freedom Specialist

PEN America, a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide, seeks a highly expert, determined Digital Freedom Specialist with the vision and skills to drive forward PEN America’s engagement on issues at the intersection of free expression and technology. This is a full-time position, preferably based in Washington, D.C.

Many of today’s most pressing free expression challenges are playing out in online spaces. Debates around online speech, disinformation, online harassment, content moderation, and social media regulation all implicate our rights to free expression, and in the coming years they are likely to determine how the space for public dialogue on the internet is shaped and governed. Disinformation and online harassment pose grave threats to free expression—particularly for writers and journalists—and are being utilized to silence people’s voices in the U.S. and globally; at the same time, however, attempts to counter these threats may also risk overstepping in ways that censor or chill speech. Digital censorship and surveillance remain a pressing danger to global free speech and privacy rights. Finding solutions that safeguard free and open online discourse for all is one of the great challenges of our time, and an area of free expression defense in which PEN America seeks to build its involvement

The Digital Freedom Specialist will drive forward PEN America’s work to protect and promote digital freedom by conducting research, developing policy recommendations, liaising directly with technology companies, engaging with government and Congress on legislative and regulatory proposals, and leading PEN America’s policy and advocacy efforts around online free expression. As part of PEN America’s Free Expression Programs team, the Digital Freedom Specialist will support and inform other areas of our programming, particularly our work on media literacy and combating online harassment and disinformation. The Specialist will engage in direct advocacy with technology companies regarding their policies and practices, and with government and congressional contacts regarding regulatory and legislative proposals for internet governance.  

The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of digital platforms and the tech industry. They will demonstrate expertise in digital freedom issues and a commitment to defending freedom of expression, as well as interest in finding solutions to challenges around online harassment, hateful speech, and disinformation. The position requires an energized and highly organized and productive work style, an informed yet diplomatic presentation, and the ability to build and drive forward an area of work in collaboration with colleagues.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Expand and amplify PEN America’s programming and advocacy on issues of digital freedom.
  • Conduct advocacy, analysis, and coalition building; identify opportunities for innovative research projects, partnerships and collaborations, public-facing campaigns, and legislative advocacy. This would include direct engagement with technology companies and policymakers in the digital space.  
  • Author analytical, advocacy, and research pieces representing PEN America’s organizational stance on digital freedom issues.
  • Support and inform PEN America’s programming on disinformation, online harassment, and media literacy.  
  • Represent PEN America in networks and coalitions related to digital rights. 
  • Attend and speak at conferences and other public events and engage with the press.
  • Identify and cultivate funding opportunities and draft proposals to sustain and build the program.
  • Creatively collaborate with other PEN America staff and programs to coordinate advocacy, public programming, activities with PEN America Members nationwide, and other organizational initiatives as appropriate.

 QUALIFICATIONS:

  • A minimum of 3-4 years of relevant experience on issues of technology and human rights, digital freedom, content governance, tech policy, or other related topics.
  • Demonstrated expertise in program management, outreach and coalition building, policy and legislative advocacy, advocacy campaign management, and/or research. 
  • Strong knowledge of legal framework around free speech, digital freedoms, and contemporary debates around technology and free expression. 
  • Experience with social media and communications utilizing multiple platforms.
  • A diplomatic disposition and great facility with interpersonal communication and relationship building. 
  • Formidable work ethic, drive, and ability to multi-task.
  • Collegiality and ability to work effectively in a diverse team.
  • Track record for independent problem-solving, innovation, creativity, and effectiveness.
  • Excellent writing, research, and presentation skills.

Salary and Benefits: PEN America offers competitive compensation and benefits, commensurate with experience.

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to [email protected]. Please use “Digital Freedom Specialist” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Digital Freedom Specialist – Jane Doe”). Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

PEN America is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices and, in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please.