Project Coordinator, Campus Free Speech

PEN America, a non-profit organization with a growing public profile for its work at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and detail-oriented project coordinator to join our acclaimed program defending free speech at U.S. colleges and universities. This is a full-time position based in New York.

The project coordinator will drive forward PEN America’s work on campus free speech by: expanding our engagement and outreach to a diverse set of audiences and actors in the higher education sector; conducting research, analysis, and advocacy; and developing new programming opportunities and partnerships.

PEN America has forged a unique role in the national debate on campus free speech, urging colleges and universities to do more to address issues of diversity, inclusion and equality while sustaining robust protections for academic freedom and freedom of speech. PEN America posits that protecting free speech on campus requires not just improving civic education, but acknowledging the legacies of inequity that persist on college campuses. In the past three years, we have engaged in an expanding array of activities to promote this philosophy, including through in-depth research, advocacy and outreach, public events, and on-campus trainings and workshops. We have produced two landmark reports on campus speech issues, And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion, and Free Speech at U.S. Universities, and Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America. These reports and the accompanying PEN America Principles on Campus Free Speech have become seminal resources for university officials, faculty, students, scholars, journalists and speech groups across the political spectrum. 

The ideal candidate will be able to contribute meaningfully to building on this foundation, helping to foster an engaging, inclusive approach to the defense of free speech that resonates on campuses and among a rising generation of students. The position requires an energized and highly organized work style, a diplomatic disposition, and the ability to work collaboratively on program development. The project coordinator will have the opportunity to track and respond to breaking news, to speak to audiences about our work, to travel nationally, and to build relationships with students, faculty, administrators, and professional organizations in the higher education sector. Taking up this role will mean working with a wide range of tools to reach audiences, build support, and advance messages. The position will report to the project director for campus free speech, and is part of PEN America’s broader Free Expression Program.


  • Amplify PEN America’s campus speech work and build relationships with critical stakeholders and key groups of students, faculty, and administrators.
  • Conduct advocacy, analysis, and other forms of engagement on issues related to free speech on U.S. campuses
  • Identify opportunities for innovative research projects, partnerships and collaborations, public-facing campaigns, and legislative advocacy.
  • Develop materials, resources, and workshops for campus administrators, students, and faculty.
  • Attend and speak at conferences and other public events.
  • Research funding opportunities and draft proposals to sustain and build the program.
  • Assist with database management, intern recruitment and management, record-keeping, financial reconciliation, and other 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 U.S. and abroad. 


  • A minimum of 3 years of relevant experience in program management or coordination, outreach and coalition building, policy and legislative advocacy, advocacy campaign management, and/or research. 
  • Strong knowledge of the First Amendment and contemporary debates over free speech on America’s college campuses.  
  • Familiarity with the higher education sector; preferred areas of professional background include higher education, human rights, civil rights, advocacy, research, legal, or university-related work.
  • Experience with event organizing, public speaking, social media, and communications utilizing multiple platforms
  • A diplomatic disposition and great facility with interpersonal communication and relationship building.
  • Track record for independent problem-solving, innovation, creativity, and effectiveness.
  • Excellent writing, research and presentation skills.

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

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to [email protected] Please use “Campus Program Coordinator” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Campus Program Coordinator – 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.