Program Manager, Digital Safety and Free Expression

PEN America, a growing nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and results-oriented program manager to lead our work to protect writers, journalists, artists, and activists from online abuse and bolster their digital safety. This is a full-time position based in New York; applicants based in Washington, D.C. will also be considered.

The program manager will work with PEN America’s in-house expert to drive forward our online abuse defense work by managing and conducting online abuse defense trainings and giving public presentations; expanding our engagement with affected audiences in the creative and media sectors; forging new partnerships; following current developments in online abuse, content moderation, and digital safety; and conducting relevant research and analysis. The program manager will have ample opportunities for public speaking, national and international travel, and relationship building with writers, journalists, media organizations, professional organizations, and civil society organizations in the media, literary, and digital rights sectors.

The ideal candidate will be deeply committed to making online spaces safer and more equitable, passionate about protecting free expression rights online, possess an understanding of intersectionality, and be attuned to the challenges to digital safety in an era of rapidly evolving technology. The position requires an energized, highly organized, and collaborative work style; the ability to navigate complex and potentially fraught questions about identity, trust, and conflict in online spaces; and the drive to build PEN America’s expertise and impact in this field. It offers substantial potential for professional advancement as PEN America’’s programming in this area expands.

Online abuse—from violent threats and hateful slurs to sexual harassment and doxing—poses a direct and pressing threat to free expression. Writers, journalists, artists, and activists are targeted for their visibility, their profession, and their identity. When PEN America surveyed our constituency in 2017, we found that the majority of writers and journalists who had experienced online abuse feared for their safety and engaged in self-censorship. In response, we launched our program in 2018 with the development of our Online Harassment Field Manual and self-defense trainings, which have since reached over 300,000 people. In the years since, PEN America has deepened its commitment to fighting online abuse and making online spaces safer, more equitable, and more free by: 1) equipping those facing abuse with resources and training to defend themselves; 2) collaborating with news outlets and media organizations, universities, and other employers to protect and support staff facing harassment; 3) conducting research and advocacy to hold social media companies accountable for online harms; and 4) working in coalition with partner organizations to fight back.

The program manager will play a key role in moving this important work forward. The position will report to the program director of digital safety and free Expression and is part of PEN America’s Free Expression Programs team.


  • Build sustained partnerships with media and literary organizations—including newsrooms, publishers, and professional associations—to develop stronger protection and support mechanisms for staff and freelancers facing online abuse
  • Conduct training for writers, journalists, and other creative and media professionals, as well as their allies and employers, and scale up the training program
  • Develop and grow materials and resources for digital safety and online abuse self-defense, including building new tools and drafting and updating content
  • Identify opportunities for innovative research projects, partnerships and collaborations, public-facing campaigns, and legislative advocacy
  • Attend and speak at conferences and other public events
  • Follow current developments in online abuse, anti-harassment, and digital content moderation and conduct relevant research and analysis
  • Research funding opportunities and draft proposals to sustain and build the program
  • Provide support on intern recruitment and management, recordkeeping, financial reconciliation, and other administrative tasks as appropriate
  • Creatively collaborate with other PEN America staff and programs to coordinate advocacy, public programming, membership activities, and other organizational initiatives as appropriate
  • Passionately support and advance PEN America’s mission to safeguard free expression in the United States and abroad


  • A minimum of three to five years of relevant experience in journalism or media, communications, technology, and/or digital safety
  • At least one year of experience working on issues of online harassment, gender-based violence, and/or trauma and self-care preferred
  • Strong knowledge of free expression issues and familiarity with contemporary debates over online harassment
  • Experience and facility with public speaking, public education, or public programs/event organizing
  • Strong project management skills, including managing budgets, timelines, and short- and long-term deadlines for deliverables
  • General knowledge of grant writing and reporting
  • A diplomatic disposition and great facility with interpersonal communication and relationship building
  • Personal qualities of integrity, empathy, patience, respect for others, and a willingness to learn
  • 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 “Program Manager, Digital Safety and Free Expression” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Program Manager, Digital Safety and Free Expression – 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.