Free Expression Program Assistant

PEN America, a nonprofit organization with a growing public profile for its work at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and detail-oriented program assistant to support the day-to-day operations of our Free Expression Programs team and contribute to a major new project. PEN America’s Free Expression Programs defend writers and journalists and protect free expression rights in the United States and around the world. This work includes research and reports on topical issues ranging from fraudulent news and online harassment to censorship in China; advocacy internationally and in the United States in defense of free expression and press freedom; and campaigns on policy issues and on behalf of individual writers and journalists under threat. This is a full-time position based in New York.

The Program Assistant will provide direct support to the Senior Director of Free Expression Programs on a range of activities that enable the work of the Free Expression Programs team. The Program Assistant will also devote a portion of their time to providing research and project management support for the Writers and Intellectuals Under Threat Project, an exciting new effort to create a definitive annual census of imprisoned writers and to launch and sustain a new digital platform specifically focused on imperiled writers and intellectuals around the world.

The position requires an energized and highly organized work style and the ability to work collaboratively on program development. The successful candidate will excel at research and writing, have demonstrated success in executing projects start to finish, and demonstrate aptitude for working with spreadsheets, databases, and bookkeeping. Ability to take initiative and work independently are necessary. Candidates should have a passion for PEN America’s mission to defend and celebrate free expression. Basic familiarity with website development or graphic design experience is a plus but not required. 


  • Provide research and program management support for the Writers and Intellectuals Under Threat Project, including developing a timeline and keeping track of various lines of effort; identifying and updating individual cases of writers and intellectuals at risk and in prison; vetting cases; drafting content; assisting with the design and development of the content for the web platform.
  • Manage a range of activities in support of the Free Expression Programs team, as follows:
    • Draft content for the website and social media, press statements, public communications materials, and other publications as necessary.
    • Research funding opportunities and assist in drafting of proposals and funding reports.
    • Manage databases, record-keeping, expense tracking and financial reconciliation, and other administrative tasks.
    • Recruit and manage interns for the department.
    • Manage the planning and execution of events.
    • Passionately support and advance PEN America’s mission to safeguard free expression in the U.S. and abroad.
    • Other responsibilities as necessary.


  • Demonstrated organizational and project management skills
  • Excellent research and writing skills
  • Demonstrated ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment
  • Excellent attention to detail and accuracy
  • Proofreading and bookkeeping skills
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills, and ability to think creatively and collaboratively
  • Formidable work ethic and high energy level, with ability to multitask effectively
  • Exemplary team player with professional demeanor and ability to work independently
  • Familiarity with WordPress, G Suite, and Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, etc.) a plus


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


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