PEN America seeks an energetic and visionary leader with significant First Amendment expertise to direct its U.S. free expression programs at a time of unprecedented assault on press freedoms and expressive rights here in the United States. Working as part of PEN America’s global free expression team, the U.S. free expression director/deputy director will guide and shape the organization’s advocacy, research, and campaigning on First Amendment and free expression issues in the United States. PEN America’s rising profile and expanding track record for pathbreaking free expression advocacy in the United States includes work on fraudulent news, press and media freedom, online harassment, news deserts and threats to local sources of news and information, surveillance and privacy rights, whistleblower protections, protest rights and freedom of association, digital freedom, and free expression issues related to immigration and the U.S. visa system, as well as other issues. PEN America’s work produced in the U.S. free expression arena has included original, in-depth research reports; public advocacy campaigns in Washington and across the country; mass mobilizations through petitions; briefings and white papers; convenings; coalition work; press and media outreach; thought leadership; legal filings; and other actions. 

PEN America is looking for dedicated, U.S.-focused leadership to build on and expand the organization’s reputation for high-quality, innovative, and influential engagement across a breadth of free expression issues, mobilizing PEN America’s network of 7,000 members across the country, including leading authors and journalists, behind unflinching defense of free speech and open discourse. We are seeking an ambitious and passionate leader who brings a combination of relevant substantive expertise, curiosity, a thirst to learn, and a drive to push forward concrete and notable accomplishments. This is a leadership opportunity for a knowledgeable, innovative, incisive professional committed to free expression and civil and human rights. The director will set priorities; identify research and advocacy opportunities; shape and guide projects; supervise staff, interns, and consultants; engage partners; plan advocacy and campaigning strategies; oversee involvement in litigation; represent PEN America publicly at meetings, conferences, and events; and otherwise build and strengthen the organization’s program of work and impact. Depending upon successful fundraising, there is significant scope for individual advancement and to build and shape this program, including through the creation of new projects, hiring staff, and attaining a heightened profile. 

Title commensurate with experience.

Responsibilities include:

  • Setting priorities and seizing opportunities for PEN America to achieve impact in the defense of free expression in the United States
  • Developing and executing PEN America’s research agenda on U.S. free expression issues
  • Monitoring and coordinating effective response to breaking developments in U.S. free expression
  • Formulating, analyzing, and communicating the organization’s policy positions on U.S. free expression and First Amendment issues
  • Developing and executing advocacy campaigns
  • Expanding and overseeing PEN America’s role in free expression-related litigation, including by working with pro bono counsel and organizational partners
  • Hiring and supervising consultants and interns and supervising junior staff
  • Identifying and cultivating funding opportunities, including donor correspondence and grant writing
  • Representing PEN America publicly with the media, partners, and at meetings, events, and conferences
  • Working in close consultation with PEN America’s Washington director, international free expression staff, campus free speech program, public programs, communications, literary programs, development, membership, national outreach, and other staff and teams

Skills, experience, and attributes:

  • Superb academic credentials; BA required; JD strongly preferred
  • A minimum of 4-8 years of progressively responsible, relevant post-graduate work experience
  • Strong expertise on First Amendment and free expression issues
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills
  • A track record for developing and executing innovative and effective research, advocacy, and campaigning
  • Experience successfully fundraising to build a program
  • Formidable work ethic, drive, and ability to multitask
  • Collegiality and ability to work effectively in a diverse team

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open 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.

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.

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 “U.S. Free Expression Programs” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “U.S. Free Expression Programs – Jane Doe”). Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

No phone calls, please.