Program Manager, Digital Safety and Free Expression

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 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 and reports to the director, digital safety and free expression. Applicants based in Washington, D.C. will also be considered. This position has an initial 12-month term subject to extension contingent on funding.

The program manager will work with PEN America’s in-house experts to drive forward our digital safety and online abuse defense programming by: providing project management and thought leadership on research projects; conducting advocacy and engagement with the technology industry; supporting policy engagement on issues of digital safety and online abuse; building out a stronger media and social media presence for the team’s work; and following current developments in online abuse, content moderation, and digital safety. The program manager will have ample opportunities for public speaking, travel, and relationship building with writers, journalists, media organizations, professional organizations, technology companies, and civil society organizations.

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 of digital safety in an era of rapidly evolving technology. The position requires an energized and highly organized work style, a diplomatic disposition, the ability to work collaboratively on fast-paced program development and expansion, the ability to navigate complex and potentially fraught questions about identity, trust, and conflict in online spaces, and the drive to build PEN America’s expertise and impact in this field. 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 manager 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.


  • Project manage research and writing projects, as well as propose and pursue original research and writing projects that advance the program’s goals
  • Conduct advocacy and engagement with the technology industry, particularly with social media platforms, in collaboration with PEN America’s digital policy lead
  • Support policy engagement on issues of digital safety and online abuse, collaborating with advocacy staff focused on digital policy and digital freedom
  • Raise the program’s profile by building out a stronger media and social media presence, in close collaboration with the communications team
  • Manage and drive forward relevant development and fundraising efforts, including researching funding opportunities, drafting proposals, tracking impact, and drafting grant reports
  • Organize and implement public events and speaking engagements, as well as represent the program at such events as needed
  • Liaise with staff working on disinformation
  • Follow current developments in online abuse, digital safety, content moderation and conduct relevant research and analyses
  • Provide support on fellow recruitment and management, recordkeeping, financial reconciliation, and other administrative tasks as appropriate
  • 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 three to five years of relevant work experience in journalism or media, communications, technology, project management policy advocacy, and/or research
  • At least one year of experience working in research or advocacy related to digital freedom, digital safety, or gender-based violence preferred
  • 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 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)
  • Strong knowledge of free expression issues and familiarity with or interest in online abuse and digital safety
  • General knowledge of grant writing and reporting
  • Track record for independent problem-solving, creativity, and effectiveness
  • 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 $60k-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 and resume to [email protected] Use “Program Manager, Digital Safety” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Program Manager, 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.