Digital Policy Lead

PEN America, a growing nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide, seeks a dynamic professional to drive forward our engagement on issues at the intersection of free expression and technology. The digital policy lead will have the vision and subject-matter expertise to shape PEN America’s approach to complex questions in this arena, and the creativity and productivity to develop related research and programming. This is a full-time position within PEN America’s Free Expression Programs department, reporting to the Washington Director and is preferably based in Washington, D.C.

Many of today’s most pressing free expression challenges are playing out in online spaces. Debates concerning online speech, disinformation, online harassment, content moderation, and social media regulation all implicate our rights to free expression, and affect 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, 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 tests of our time, and an area of free expression defense to which PEN America is committed.

The digital policy lead will propel PEN America’s work to protect and promote digital freedom by analyzing relevant regulatory and legislative proposals for internet governance and related issues, liaising directly with technology companies, conducting research, developing policy recommendations, and producing materials–white papers, op-eds, and policy briefs–that elevate and drive forward PEN America’s analysis of and proposed solutions to complex digital freedom challenges. Reporting to PEN America’s Washington Director, this role supports PEN America’s government affairs team in its policy and advocacy efforts with respect to digital freedom, and represents PEN America’s interests in engaging with social media platforms and other technology companies. As part of PEN America’s robust Free Expression Programs department, the digital policy lead will support and coordinate with other areas of our programming, including online harassment and our efforts in combating disinformation across communities.

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 crafting solutions to challenges to free expression in the digital realm. The position requires an energized and highly organized and productive work style, an informed yet diplomatic presentation, comfort with public activities and media engagement, and the ability to build and advance an area of work in collaboration with colleagues.


  • Author analytical, advocacy, and research pieces representing PEN America’s organizational stance on digital freedom issues
  • Represent PEN America in networks and coalitions related to digital rights; identify opportunities for innovative research projects, partnerships and collaborations, and public-facing campaigns
  • Serve as a thought partner on policy positioning and legislative advocacy opportunities vis-a-vis the US government, Congress, and in the multilateral sphere. Represent PEN America in digital governance where relevant.
  • Conceive, develop, or expand PEN America’s advocacy initiatives on issues of digital freedom
  • Attend and speak at conferences and other public events and engage with the press
  • 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
  • Passionately support and advance PEN America’s mission to safeguard free expression in the U.S. and abroad


  • A minimum of three to five years of relevant experience on issues of technology and human rights, digital freedom, content governance, tech policy, or related topics
  • Experience in policy development, legislative analysis, and/or research; A track record of incisive written products on relevant topics
  • Experience in developing and implementing initiatives that activate research and analysis
  • Demonstrated success in outreach and coalition building
  • Understanding of legal framework with respect to free speech, digital freedoms, and contemporary debates concerning technology and free expression
  • Experience with or understanding of major social media platforms a plus
  • Experience in fundraising also preferred
  • A diplomatic disposition and strong facility with interpersonal communication and relationship building
  • Formidable work ethic, drive, and ability to multitask
  • 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 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. Submit the entire application to Please use “Digital Policy Lead” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Digital Policy Lead – 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.

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.