PEN America, a vibrant and fast-paced organization standing at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a professional, dynamic, and experienced donor events professional to plan, produce, and implement fundraising and cultivation events.  The Senior Manager of Institutional Advancement for Special Events will provide leadership in envisioning and executing high quality events that support the goals of PEN America. The position is responsible for ensuring that events are memorable, perfectly executed for guests, and meet PEN America’s fundraising, donor cultivation, and outreach goals. 

This key staff member will report to the Director of Institutional Advancement.  S/he will work closely with PEN America’s Executive Director and with input from the Director of Development to plan and execute longstanding signature events such as PEN America’s Annual Literary Gala and PEN America’s Authors’ Evenings, a program of hosted private dinners where supporters of PEN America engage with noted authors in an intimate setting.  The position also will formulate new strategies to develop and promote special events, systemize coordination with other donor and membership initiatives, track and act on donor feedback, tailor event invitations to maximize cultivation opportunities, engage PEN America’s various departments, and advance PEN America’s growth.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Work with the Director of Institutional Advancement to develop strategy, concepts, themes and formats and oversee the execution of fundraising and cultivation events that engage donors and prospects, meet financial goals, and support PEN America’s mission;
  • Coordinate with Gala Consultant in the management of all logistical aspects of PEN America’s Annual Literary Gala;
  • Manage vendors, venues, temporary staff, interns, and other volunteers serving roles in Annual Literary Gala and Authors’ Evenings;
  • Coordinate and disseminate all guest research;
  • Liaise with Deputy Director for Communications in the preparation of all collateral and marketing materials for Annual Literary Gala and Authors’ Evenings including:  invitation; programs; branding for solicitation materials; other print material as needed, social media and electronic collateral;
  • Collaborate with external partners, honorees, chairs, committee, board members, etc. on event cultivation, mailings, follow-up, and information sharing;
  • Manage production of all printed material and high volume mailings of such materials;
  • Track event revenue and expense budgets, processing/routing contracts and invoices; oversee budget reconciliation for events managed;
  • Assist in the management of event committees, prepare materials and data in advance of meetings, coordinate and play a supporting role in meetings, draft and distribute minutes and prepare debriefs;
  • Prepare financial reports for presentation to Executive Director and Board of Trustees;
  • Write talking points, event correspondence, collateral materials, social media and web outreach, solicitation and acknowledgment letters and other follow-up as necessary;
  • Coordinate the staffing of all events, draft run of show and other support materials, recruit volunteers, and serve as event point person;
  • Facilitate prompt payment of contributions and pledges in cooperation with gala consultant and finance department
  • Develop and implement cultivation strategies for prospects and high-level donors involving attendance and hosting at PEN America events
  • Work with Director of Development to compile and maintain guest lists, seating plans and integration of information into data base;
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Preferred Characteristics

  •  The ability to multitask in a dynamic and fast-paced environment;
  • Strong energy and stamina;
  • Ambition to strengthen and grow and already successful and substantial donor events program;
  • Excellent judgment, strong decision‑making abilities, and negotiation skills;
  • Collaborative and results-oriented approach to lead and drive the production of high quality events that advance PEN America’s brand, donor involvement, cultivation and stewardship;
  • Strong commitment to PEN America’s mission to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible;
  • Poise, polish, and discretion in all interactions with PEN America’s stakeholders including human rights activists, prominent authors, policy makers, and members of New York City’s philanthropic community;
  • Strong writing and verbal communications skills;
  • The ability to be a team leader and team player engaging in both high-level strategy and mundane details;
  • Enthusiasm, commitment to excellence, self-motivation, and a professional demeanor;
  • Highly organized and detail oriented;
  • The ability to handle multiple tasks with organization and accuracy;
  • Flexibility to work outside normal working hours (occasional evenings and weekends);
  • Strong proficiency with Microsoft Office suite including Publisher; knowledge of DonorPerfect, familiarity with Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator.


  • Bachelor’s degree;
  • Minimum of three years of event planning experience at a nonprofit organization;
  • Demonstrated record of successful event visioning, management, and execution.


Founded in 1922, PEN America is a non-profit organization headquartered in New York City with more than 4,400 members.  We stand at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide.  We champion 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.

PEN America represents a Who’s Who of literary talent in the United States and brings them together with their most distinguished international counterparts for seminal discussions and debates and joint advocacy and campaigning in defense of free speech, freedom of thought, and the free flow of ideas necessary for open societies to flourish. Our US-based membership, as well as more than 20,000 members worldwide, are building on the legacy such past members as W. H. Auden, James Baldwin, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Grace Paley, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. Today, PEN America draws on the talents of the next generation by attracting and engaging members including Ayad Akhtar, Teju Cole, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Neil Gaiman, Chang-rae Lee, George Packer, and Alice Sebold.

Other: This position is within PEN America’s Institutional Advancement team, and offers exceptional opportunity for professional growth. Diverse candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

Salary and Benefits: PEN 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 Please use “Senior Manager Institutional Advancement” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Artists-At-Risk Project Director – 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.