Program Manager, Free Expression and Education

PEN America, a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and detail-oriented program manager to join our acclaimed free expression and education program. This is a full-time position based in New York.

The program manager will help drive forward educational programming as part of PEN America’s Free Speech Advocacy Institute, a new, multifaceted effort to catalyze a more informed, civic culture through free expression education for the rising generation. Responsibilities will include contributing to the design and delivery of educational programs that raise understanding of the intersection of free expression, diversity, and inclusion in U.S. society; engaging in outreach to and building relationships with educational institutions, including high schools, colleges, and universities; developing key partnerships with professionals and organizations in the secondary and higher education sectors; and contributing to PEN America’s advocacy concerning free expression in educational institutions.

PEN America’s free expression and education program aims to influence the national debate over free speech, with a particular emphasis on advocating for free speech in educational institutions and educating the rising generation. This includes working with schools, colleges, and universities in an effort to ensure robust protections for academic freedom and freedom of speech while advancing diversity, inclusion, and equality; PEN America posits that protecting free speech requires acknowledging and redressing the legacies of inequity in U.S. society. Our program engages in research, advocacy, trainings and workshops, public events, and educational programming, and has developed resources for administrators, students, and faculty, including the PEN America Principles on Campus Free Speech and the PEN America Campus Free Speech Guide. We have also produced two landmark reports on campus speech issues: And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion, and Free Speech at U.S. Universities and Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America.

The ideal candidate will be able to contribute meaningfully to building on this foundation, helping to foster an engaging, inclusive approach to the defense of free speech that resonates among a rising generation of students. The position requires an energized and highly organized work style, attention to detail, a diplomatic disposition, and the ability to work collaboratively on program development. The position will report to the director of free expression and education, and is part of PEN America’s broader Free Expression Programs team.


  • Manage and oversee elements of PEN America’s Free Speech Advocacy Institute, including identifying opportunities for partnerships and collaborations
  • Conduct outreach and build relationships with critical stakeholders in the education sector, including students, teachers, faculty, and administrators to build and expand PEN America’s free expression and education programs
  • Contribute to the design and development of educational programs that raise public understanding of issues at the intersection of free speech, diversity, and inclusion
  • Develop educational materials and resources on free speech for youth audiences
  • Speak to diverse audiences on issues of free speech, diversity, and inclusion, including at conferences, on campuses, at schools, and public events, and primarily to youth audiences
  • Contribute to advocacy campaigns, research, and public and youth engagement plans
  • Assist with database management, intern recruitment and management, recordkeeping, fundraising, financial reconciliation, and other tasks as appropriate
  • 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
  • Depending on program needs and public health guidelines, travel may be a significant part of this role, up to 25%


  • A minimum of approximately three years of relevant experience, which could include project management, outreach and coalition building, event organizing, teaching or work in the education sector, policy and legislative advocacy, and/or research
  • Understanding of and interest in contemporary debates over free speech, particularly on U.S. college campuses
  • Familiarity with the secondary and/or higher education sectors; areas of professional background could include higher education, human rights, civil rights, advocacy, research, teaching, legal, or university-related work
  • A diplomatic disposition and great facility with interpersonal communication and relationship building
  • Track record for independent project management, problem-solving, innovation, creativity, and effectiveness
  • Excellent writing, research, and presentation skills
  • Experience with using social media or other communications tools for professional purposes a plus

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

This position is contingent on funding.

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 “Free Expression and Education Program Manager” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Free Expression and Education Program Manager – 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.