Program Coordinator, Free Expression and Education

PEN America, a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a thoughtful, proactive and entrepreneurial program coordinator to support our advocacy in defense of the freedom to learn and teach through our program on free expression and education. This is a full-time position and is expected to be based at PEN America’s Washington, D.C. or New York City offices.

The program coordinator will contribute to the growth of PEN America’s work on free expression in educational institutions, with a focus on defending academic freedom in higher education and combating legislative censorship of professors, teachers, and students. Working collaboratively with the Free Expression and Education program team, the coordinator will help design and carry out advocacy, research, and coalition-building efforts against censorious legislation and politically-motivated efforts to prohibit curricular materials and constrain public education, as documented in PEN America’s recent report, Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach. The coordinator will also assist with commentary on academic freedom and free speech issues in higher education, helping to implement the PEN America Principles on Campus Free Speech and the PEN America Campus Free Speech Guide. Responsibilities will include drafting commentary and social media content, assisting with research and analysis, engaging in legislative and media tracking, coordinating events and schedules, and helping expand PEN America’s reach and impact in the higher education sector.

The successful candidate will be committed to PEN America’s mission as a human rights and free expression organization, and will have interest and/or experience in the higher education sector, exceptional writing skills, and facility with one or more areas of programmatic work, including legislative tracking/analysis, email newsletter management, event planning, and/or social media. The position will report to the senior manager of free expression and education, and is part of PEN America’s broader Free Expression Programs team.

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a growing organization that has made landmark contributions to highlighting and counteracting challenges to essential freedoms in education. The successful candidate will gain skills in developing and implementing advocacy campaigns, engaging with a national array of partners, and conceptualizing and managing projects.


  • Draft public commentary, presentations, and social media content on campus free speech issues

  • Assist with research and analysis and serve as a thought partner on issues of
    educational censorship and campus free speech

  • Monitor news about academic freedom, campus free speech, and educational
    censorship by legislatures, elevating relevant cases for team discussion

  • Maintain and update public-facing legislative trackers and internal media tracker

  • Draft monthly email newsletter, and manage team email lists and email software

  • Coordinate and schedule events on academic freedom and campus free speech around the country

  • Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences about issues of free speech,
    academic freedom, and educational censorship

  • Help expand PEN America’s reach and impact in the higher education sector, including potentially in the student services and administration sectors

  • Assist with administrative tasks as appropriate, including managing recordkeeping, expense tracking, calendar management and scheduling of meetings, and responding to information requests

  • 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, domestic travel may be up to10% of this role


  • Bachelor’s degree plus a minimum of two years of relevant professional experience, preferably in the higher education sector, for example in student affairs, administration, teaching, higher education journalism, academic freedom advocacy, academic professional associations, or other relevant areas
  • Understanding of and interest in contemporary debates over free speech, particularly on college campuses and in schools
  • Exceptional writing and communication skills
  • Strong project and time management skills, including meeting deadlines
  • Ability to engage an ideologically varied set of stakeholders
  • Experience with using email communication or advocacy alert software, social media, graphic design software, or other communications tools for professional purposes a plus
  • Experience with research, legislative analysis, and/or legislative tracking a plus
  • Energetic and committed to producing high-quality work in both administrative and analytical tasks

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


Please submit a cover letter, resume, unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references.Submit the entire application to Please use “Program Coordinator, Free Expression and Education” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Program Coordinator, Free Expression and Education – 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.


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.