Manager, Education Policy (Washington, D.C.)

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a motivated, highly organized, and professional education policy manager to support our Washington, D.C.-based legislative, policy, and partnership efforts in defense of the freedom to learn and teach. This is a full-time position based in Washington, D.C. and reports to the lead, Congressional Affairs on PEN America’s government affairs team.

The education policy manager will lead federal legislative analysis, policy development, and partner engagement on free expression and education issues. This work will involve defending the autonomy of colleges and universities against political and legislative incursions as well as analyzing and supporting policy development to address censorious government action in the K-12 sphere. The manager will support the work of the broader Washington, D.C. government affairs team, and will work in close collaboration with both the free expression and education team and the U.S. free expression programs team. Responsibilities will include providing incisive data and analysis to inform engagements with policymakers, higher education leaders, and academic associations; conducting outreach to Hill staffers and other policymakers to share PEN America data, analysis, and insights; preparing briefing materials and Congressional testimony; leading and participating in convenings, information sessions, and panel events related to education policy; and networking and coordinating with educational organizations based in Washington, D.C..

The successful candidate will possess strong knowledge of federal education policy and related processes; experience preparing principals for high-level meetings, testimony, and other engagements; and a demonstrated ability to effectively strategize and multitask in a fast-paced environment. The position involves support for engagement with Administration officials, Hill staff, and members of Congress and requires advanced skills in prompt, careful, polished, and diplomatic communication. The manager will have an opportunity to make an essential contribution to defending freedom of expression and the freedom to teach and learn as part of a growing team that is playing a leading role in higher education and K-12 advocacy.

In alignment with PEN America’s current policy, all applicants should be available to report to the office at least three days per week. This policy is subject to change.


  • Track developments in Congress and the Department of Education in relation to proposals affecting or concerning the freedom to teach, learn, or read 
  • Provide incisive analysis and data to inform engagements with policymakers, higher education leaders, and academic associations
  • Lead federal education and academic freedom-related policy strategy
  • Cultivate and maintain strong relationships with educational organizations based in Washington, D.C. and relevant federal interlocutors, including identifying and participating in relevant coalitions 
  • Facilitate and participate in convenings, briefings, and panel events
  • Coordinate closely with free expression programs team and U.S. free expression programs team to ensure priority and policy alignment and an understanding of developments at the local and state levels to better inform federal policy positioning
  • Serve as a thought partner in developing PEN America’s organizing and advocacy efforts regarding higher education and K-12 policies
  • Manage Washington, D.C. government affairs team press availabilities, email lists and email software
  • Provide administrative support to the senior manager, legislative affairs as necessary
  • Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences about issues of free speech, academic freedom, and educational censorship
  • Support and advance PEN America’s mission to safeguard free expression in the United States and abroad

All PEN America staff are considered to be stakeholders in the development of our shared organization. As such, staff play a role in varied activities within the workplace as part of their job responsibilities. These may include committees or task forces to work on office issues, diversity and inclusion, strategy projects, training, or other initiatives.


  • Bachelor’s degree plus a minimum of two to three years of relevant professional experience, including experience with issues of education policy and working on or with the Hill, the U.S. Department of Education, or other relevant federal bodies
  • Understanding of and interest in contemporary debates over free expression, particularly on college campuses
  • Polished, meticulous, and impeccably courteous written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong project and time management skills, including meeting deadlines
  • Ability to engage an ideologically varied set of stakeholders
  • Comfort and effectiveness with building relationships and coalitions and representing PEN America and its mission; professional experience in these areas a plus
  • Energetic, prompt, and skilled at multitasking
  • Familiarity with Asana or other project management software a plus
  • Commitment to and understanding of PEN America’s mission, centered on the celebration and defense of free expression, including the defense of speech reflecting a wide range of political opinions and ideologies

Salary and Benefits: PEN America offers competitive compensation and full benefits. The salary range for this position is $65-70K, commensurate with experience. Candidates whose expectations are outside this range are welcome to apply, as PEN America is open to considering talented individuals at varying stages of their careers. PEN America’s benefits package includes medical, dental, and vision health insurance, paid time off, 10 paid holidays, pre-tax commuter benefits and a 403b retirement plan.


Please submit a cover letter, resume, and unedited writing sample to [email protected]. Use “Education Policy Manager, Washington” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Education Policy Manager, Washington – Jane Doe”). Please also share where you heard about this position in the body of your email. 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. 


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.