Program Manager, Research

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a committed, detail-oriented, and motivated research program manager to advance PEN America’s portfolio of ground-breaking research. This is a full-time position based in PEN America’s New York City headquarters and reports to the director, research as part of the larger Free Expression Programs department. 

PEN America’s research program leads in producing the organization’s catalytic research reports, which provide the foundation for PEN America’s advocacy engagements and policy interventions, and often forge new areas of work in defense of freedom of expression. PEN America’s reports cover a range of free expression issues in the U.S. and globally, and consistently influence domestic and international policy debates, raise public awareness of emerging threats to freedom of expression, and garner substantial public attention and engagement. 

Befitting PEN America’s role as a literary, human rights, and free expression advocacy organization, our reports range widely in subject. Recent reports have had significant consequential impact and have touched on issues including educational gag orders and book bans in schools, Chinese governmental influence in Hollywood, how social media outrage chills literary expression, restrictions on protest rights in the U.S., and governmental repression in Turkey and Myanmar. (A full list of publications is available here). The program manager will have the opportunity to work on a wide range of thematic issues related to PEN America’s mandate. The program manager will work collaboratively with other teams across PEN America as an organization, and with other Free Expression program teams especially.  

The successful candidate will possess top-notch research and writing skills, be highly organized, and share PEN America’s zealous commitment to quality and accuracy in its research products. They will bring a passion for PEN America’s mission to defend freedom of expression, and a vision of the role that rigorous, path-breaking research can play in advancing that mission.

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.


  • Work with the research director and other program staff to develop and advance PEN America’s research strategy and agenda
  • Author and co-author research publications and commentary, including blog posts, op-eds, and press releases
  • Lead development and implementation of strategy/metrics for increasing and assessing impact of PEN America’s Research output in alignment with program, department, and organizational advocacy goals 
  • Work with communications team to ensure that report launches and communications strategies align with and serve impact goals 
  • Manage and support the development of reports throughout all stages of  the production and publication process. This will include substantial research, drafting, and editing responsibilities as well as tracking progress and ensuring timeliness of multiple projects
  • Work closely with consultants brought on to assist in research or drafting, including managing timelines and facilitating internal review processes
  • Track relevant domestic or international developments related to PEN  America’s work and mandate
  • Help develop PEN America’s organizational position on issues related to its  research
  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, including  partner organizations and relevant external subject matter experts
  • Recruit and supervise research team fellows and interns
  • Assist with administrative tasks as appropriate, including managing  recordkeeping, expense tracking, calendar management and scheduling of  meetings, and responding to information requests
  • Represent PEN America publicly with policymakers, partners and  coalitions, the media, and through public speaking at events and conferences as a subject matter expert as well as a speaker on advocacy research impact and design

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 three to four years of relevant professional research experience—preferably in the field of human rights, civil rights, and/or freedom of expression; Additional academic qualifications a plus
  • Exceptional writing, research, and communication skills
  • Understanding of and interest in contemporary debates over freedom of speech, press freedom, and digital governance
  • Strong project and time management skills, including meeting deadlines and the ability to simultaneously keep track of and advance different projects
  • Experience in engaging diverse and ideologically varied stakeholders a plus
  • 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 legislative analysis a plus
  • Energetic and committed to producing high-quality work
  • Commitment to PEN America’s mission, centered on the celebration and defense of free expression for all. Willingness to defend the right to engage in speech that may be offensive and discomfiting and that reflects a wide range of political opinions and ideologies. PEN America promotes open and respectful dialogue across difference, and we work to allow a diversity of perspectives to flourish.
  • Commitment to PEN America’s advocacy and support for writers, artists and their allies around the world, without regard to the ideology or actions of their country’s government

Salary and Benefits: PEN America offers competitive compensation and full benefits. The salary range for this position is $65k-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 note: This position has an initial 12-month term subject to extension contingent on funding.


Please submit a cover letter, resume, and unedited writing sample to [email protected]. Use “Program Manager, Research” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Program Manager, Research – 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.