Program Manager, Campus Free Speech

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and results-oriented program manager to join our efforts to support free expression and academic freedom in higher education. This is a full-time, hybrid position to be based at PEN America’s offices in New York or Washington, D.C., and reports to the senior manager, free expression and education programs. 

The program manager will be responsible for managing and growing PEN America’s educational programs, professional workshops, and relationships with colleges and universities, in support of our mission to improve the climate for free speech and open and respectful exchange on campus, through education and training. The program manager will be responsible for: managing our growing suite of professional development programs for higher education staff, faculty, and academic leaders, including our Campus for All workshops and other campus engagements; taking new requests and building relationships with college and university partners; marketing our education and training programs; following current developments in higher education and developing new programming to respond to these trends; contributing to the creation of resources for protecting free expression in higher education, which includes our Campus Free Speech Guide; and helping create a stronger media and social media presence for our programs. 

The ideal candidate will be deeply committed to higher education and free speech, and be passionate about facilitating open and respectful exchange on campuses. They will be excited about building programs to ensure campuses are educating for democracy, protecting academic freedom and freedom of expression, and supporting an equitable education for students from all backgrounds. Candidate should be enthusiastic about engaging in the principled defense of free speech, including speech that reflects a wide range of views and ideologies. This position requires an energized and highly organized work style, a diplomatic disposition, the ability to work collaboratively in a fast-paced environment, skill with navigating complex and potentially fraught questions about free speech on campuses, and an interest in having a tangible impact on campus environments. The role offers substantial potential for professional advancement as PEN America’s programming in this area expands.  

PEN America’s free expression and education programs champion the freedom to read, learn, and think that is under threat in educational institutions in the United States, and to improve the climate for open and respectful exchange in schools, colleges, and universities, through research, advocacy, and educational programs.

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.


  • Intake new requests and build relationships with the higher education sector to build PEN America’s clientele
  • Manage the suite of Campus for All professional development workshops and training programs for staff, faculty, and academic leaders
  • Raise the program’s profile by building out a stronger media and social media presence, in close collaboration with the communications team
  • Public speaking and presentations on behalf of PEN America’s Campus Free Speech program
  • Assist with relevant development and fundraising efforts, including researching funding opportunities, drafting proposals, tracking impact, and drafting grant reports
  • Liaise with staff and external consultants working on free expression and education
  • Follow current developments in the higher education sector, and update programming accordingly 
  • Manage and develop systems of recordkeeping, financial reconciliation, and other administrative tasks as appropriate
  • Creatively collaborate with other PEN America staff and programs to coordinate events, advocacy, workshops, membership activities, and other 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 three to five years of relevant work experience in higher education sector or in developing educational programming 
  • A diplomatic disposition and great facility with interpersonal communication and relationship-building
  • Demonstrated organizational and project management skills with the ability to prioritize multiple tasks with short- and long-term deadlines for deliverables
  • Excellent writing, research, and presentation skills, including facility with public speaking
  • Experience with communications utilizing multiple platforms, including proficiency with Google Suite, spreadsheets and PowerPoint, and various video conferencing platforms including Zoom
  • Experience with project management tools, such as Asana, is a plus, and a willingness to learn is a requirement
  • Track record for independent problem-solving, creativity, and effectiveness
  • 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
  • Able to travel an estimated 25% of the time within the United States; Available to work some nights and weekends in relation to travel

Salary and Benefits: PEN America offers competitive compensation and full benefits. The salary range for this position is $65-75k, 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 “Program Manager – Campus Free Speech” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Program Manager, Campus Free Speech – 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.