Program Assistant, Digital Safety and Free Expression

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and detail-oriented program assistant to join our efforts to defend creative and media professionals, as well as their allies and employers, from online abuse, bolster their safety, and protect their free expression rights online. This is a full-time position based at PEN America’s New York City headquarters or Washington D.C. office and reports to the Director, Digital Safety and Free Expression. The position is part of PEN America’s Free Expression Programs team.

The program assistant will work with PEN America’s in-house experts to drive forward our digital safety and online abuse defense programming by: leading coordination and administrative support for the team; supporting project management, research, copy-editing, fact-checking and support for research projects; supporting the development of resources and campaigns; coordinating and tracking engagement with social media platforms and technology companies; helping build out a stronger media and social media presence on issues of digital safety and free expression; and following current developments in online abuse, content moderation, and digital safety. 

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 and highly organized work style, a diplomatic disposition, and the ability to work collaboratively on fast-paced program development and expansion. 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. In response, we launched our online abuse defense program in 2018, which has since reached hundreds of thousands of people. Our program is focused on 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 assistant will play a key role in moving this important work forward. 

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.


  • Support the development and execution of research and writing projects.
  • Support advocacy and engagement on digital safety with the technology industry, particularly with social media platforms
  • Support raising the digital safety program’s profile by building out a stronger media and social media presence for our work, in close collaboration with PEN America’s communications team
  • Provide administrative support for the Director, Digital Safety and Free Expression, and across the team, including:
    • Calendar management and scheduling of meetings
    • Database management and record-keeping
    • Planning team meetings, team retreat, team-building activities, etc.
    • Expense reporting, financial reconciliation, and other budget tasks
  • Co-lead intern/fellow recruitment and management
  • Assist in development and fundraising efforts, including researching funding opportunities, drafting proposals, tracking impact, and drafting grant reports
  • Assist in the organization and implementation of public events and speaking engagements, as well as represent the program at such events as needed
  • Strengthen ties between the organization’s work on online harassment and disinformation
  • Follow current developments in online abuse, digital safety, and content moderation and conduct relevant research and analyses
  • 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

​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.


  • A minimum of one year of relevant work experience in journalism or media, communications, technology, project management or coordination, policy advocacy, and/or research 
  • Strong administrative and project management skills with the ability to prioritize multiple tasks with short- and long-term deadlines for deliverables
  • Highly detail-oriented and organized
  • Experience with social media, website content management systems, and communications utilizing multiple platforms, including proficiency with Google Suite and various video conferencing platforms including Zoom (Asana and Canva a plus)
  • Excellent writing, research, and presentation skills
  • Track record for independent problem-solving, creativity, and effectiveness
  • Strong knowledge of free expression issues and familiarity with or interest in online abuse and digital safety
  • 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
  • Commitment to and strong 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, regardless of personal views

Salary and Benefits: PEN America offers competitive compensation and full benefits. The salary range for this position is $45-47k, 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 and resume to [email protected]. Use “Program Assistant, Digital Safety” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Program Assistant, Digital Safety – 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.