Suzanne Nossel

Suzanne Nossel

Suzanne Nossel currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, the leading human rights and free expression organization, and she is author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. Since joining in 2013, she has doubled the organization’s staff, budget, and membership, spearheaded the unification with PEN Center USA in Los Angeles and the establishment of a Washington, D.C. office, and overseen groundbreaking work on free expression in Hong Kong and China, Myanmar, Eurasia, and the United States. She is a leading voice on free expression issues in the United States and globally, writing and being interviewed frequently for national and international media outlets. Her prior career spanned government service and leadership roles in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. During the first term of the Obama Administration, Nossel served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, where she led U.S. engagement in the United Nations and multilateral institutions, on human rights and humanitarian issues. During the Clinton Administration, Nossel was Deputy to the U.S. Ambassador for UN Management and Reform at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, where she was the lead negotiator in settling U.S. arrears to the world body. During her corporate career, Nossel served as Vice President of U.S. Business Development for Bertelsmann and as Vice President for Strategy and Operations for the Wall Street Journal. Nossel coined the term “Smart Power,” which was the title of a 2004 article she published in Foreign Affairs Magazine and later became the theme of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure in office. Nossel is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and has published op-eds in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, and dozens of other outlets, as well as scholarly articles in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, Democracy, and other journals. Nossel served on the Board of Directors of the Tides Foundation until 2021. She is a former senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Nossel is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

In 2021, Nossel was selected as a member of the Oversight Board, an independent body using human rights principles to adjudicate decisions on Facebook and Instagram. Read more about her appointment here.

Dare to Speak

Dare to Speak Book Cover

A vital, necessary playbook for navigating and defending free speech today by the CEO of PEN America, Dare To Speak provides a pathway for promoting free expression while also cultivating a more inclusive public culture.

Order Today


Cited in “Symbiotic Security and Free Speech” by Michael J. Glennon.



Recent Publications & APPEARANCES

Suzanne Nossel on “The Real Culture Wars” Between Democracy and Autocracy | Amanpour and Company
PBS, March 2024

The Real Culture Wars Between Democracy and Autocracy
Foreign Affairs, February 2024

Threats to free speech | In the Public Square
PBS, February 2024

Is the solution to offensive speech more speech?
PBS, February 2024

How universities can restore free speech and constructive conversations
Boston Globe, February 2024

Opinion: DEI and free speech can go hand in hand
CNN, January 2024

The Dangers of Curtailing Free Speech on Campus
TIME, December 2023

Israel-Hamas war spotlights increasing concerns over free speech on college campuses
WBUR, November 2023

A Free-Speech Fix for Our Divided Campuses
Wall Street Journal, November 2023

‘She is relentless’: The extraordinary resilience of jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi
CNN, November 2023

Why College Presidents Seem Flummoxed
CNN, November 2023

Cultural Decoupling From China Is Not the Answer
Foreign Policy, September 2023

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel on Dare to Speak
C-Span, September 2023

Book-Burning Bans Are the Wrong Way to Fight Religious Hatred
Wall Street Journal, September 2023

A canceled JCC book talk shows Jews are entering a dangerous era of self-censorship
Forward, September 2023

The Overlooked but Potent Artist in the Fight Against Autocracy
Just Security, August 2023

Hollywood’s Fight Against A.I. Will Affect Us All
The New Republic, July 2023

“Opinion: Banning government officials from talking to Big Tech is no win for free speech”
Los Angeles Times, July 2023

How America Can Win Over the Global South
Foreign Affairs, July 2023

What to Take Down, What to Leave Up, and Why
Aspen Ideas Festival, 2023

Book Bans & Free Speech
Stay Tuned with Preet, June 2023

“This Is How to Keep Academic Freedom Alive in America”
Newsweek, March 2023

“The drag show bans sweeping the US are a chilling attack on free speech”
The Guardian, March 2023

“Ron DeSantis abandons former First Amendment defense”
CNN, February 2023

“There’s No Quick Fix for Social Media”
The Wall Street Journal, January 2023

“Ukrainians Are Defending Their History, Thought, Art, and Culture, Too”
TIME, January 2023

“Parents Should Have a Voice in Their Kids’ Education But We’ve Gone Too Far”
TIME, September 2022

“Some Assembly Required: Why the UN’s Broadest Forum Matters More Than Ever”
Foreign Affairs, September 2022

“Salman Rushdie’s entire life has been an act of defiance”
The Guardian, August 2022

“The Old Human Rights Playbook Won’t Work Anymore”
Foreign Policy, August 2022

“Academic Freedom’s Proxy Wars”
Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2022

“How to Help Ukraine Fight Cultural Erasure”
Foreign Policy, May 2022

“Book Bans Threaten Students Nationwide. Here’s How Philanthropy Can Fight Back.”
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, March 2022

“Boycotting Russian Culture Doesn’t Help Ukraine”
The Wall Street Journal, March 2022

“When Diplomacy Fails”
Foreign Policy, February 2022

“Op-Ed: The recent onslaught of book bans is a strategic part of wider attacks on our democracy”
Los Angeles Times, February 2022

“Peng Shuai’s new statements fit a pattern in China. The world mustn’t fall for it.”
The Washington Post, December 2021

“How to Save People From Drowning in a Sea of Misinformation”
Slate, December 2021

“Chinese Censorship Is Going Global”
Foreign Policy, October 2021

“A Nobel for Journalists Is a Direct Challenge to Authoritarians”
Foreign Policy, October 2021

“Biden Needs to Bolster the Power of Exiles”
Foreign Policy, September 2021

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Censorship”
The New York Times, July 2021

“Authoritarianism Doesn’t Stop at the Water’s Edge”
Foreign Policy, May 2021

“Killing Hong Kong’s Free Press Will Harm Its Economy”
Foreign Policy, May 2021

“Romanticizing Dissidents Plays Into the Hands of Repressive Governments”
Foreign Policy, April 2021

“Banning Trump from Facebook may feel good. Here’s why it might be wrong”
Los Angeles Times, January 2021

“Don’t Let Trump’s Second Trial Change the First Amendment”
The New York Times, January 2021

“Biden Must Restore America’s Reputation as a Beacon of Press Freedom”
Foreign Policy, November 2020

“How to Stop the Export of Authoritarianism”
Foreign Policy, October 2020

“What Is the State of Free Speech Today? ‘It’s Under Profound Threat,’ Says the Head of PEN America”
Time, September 2020

“‘Cancel culture’ censorship can be most dangerous for those who promote social justice”
NBC News THINK, August 2020

“Suzanne Nossel Wants You to ‘Dare to Speak’”
Shondaland, August 2020

“For Speech We Abhor: Talking to Suzanne Nossel”
Los Angeles Review of Books, July 2020

“The American Approach to Free Speech is Flawed — but It’s the Best Option We Have”
Slate, July 2020

“Has Free Speech Become an Even More Partisan Issue Under the Trump Administration?”
LitHub, July 2020

“Five myths about free speech”
The Washington Post, July 2020

“Those who exercise free speech should also defend it — even when it’s offensive”
Los Angeles Times, June 2020

“We need smart solutions to mitigate the coronavirus’s impact. Here are 37.”
The Washington Post, May 2020

“Don’t Let Leaders Use the Coronavirus as an Excuse to Violate Civil Liberties”
Foreign Policy, April 2020

“As We Confront a Pandemic, U.S. State and Federal Government Must Support Local News”
Slate, March 2020

“China Is Fighting the Coronavirus Propaganda War to Win”
Foreign Policy, March 2020

“Fool Us Once, Shame on You. Fool Us in 2020, Shame on Us.”
The New York Times, December 2019

“Kamala Harris wants to boot Trump from Twitter. It wouldn’t work.”
The Washington Post, October 2019

“Joaquin Castro’s Tweet Was Not Doxxing”
The New York Times, August 2019

“The Alarming Assault on the Free Press”
CNN, May 2019

“Why Trump’s Campus Free Speech Order is a Big Risk”
CNN, March 2019

“Bernie Sanders Still Doesn’t Pass the Commander-in-Chief Test”
Foreign Policy, March 2019

“Trump and May Are Discrediting Democracy”
Foreign Policy, January 2019

“Enforced Silence Is Just As Dangerous As Any Offensive Rhetoric”
The Washington Post, November 2018

“Trump’s Divisive Speech Puts the First Amendment at Risk”
Foreign Policy, October 2018

“Trump’s Attacks on the Press Are Illegal. We’re Suing.”
Politico, October 2018

“Journalists are Routinely Murdered Around the World. They Deserve Outrage Just Like Jamal Khashoggi”
Los Angeles Times, October 2018

“Google Is Handing the Future of the Internet to China”
Foreign Policy, September 2018

“The Job of Human Rights Chief Isn’t What You Think”
Foreign Policy, August 2018

“What the Trump Administration Gets Very Wrong About Free Speech”
CNN, August 2018

“Once Upon a Time, Helsinki Meant Human Rights”
Foreign Policy, July 2018

“Sometimes More Speech Isn’t the Solution to Offensive Speech” 
The Washington Post, May 2018

“You Can Only Protect Campus Speech if You Acknowledge Racism” 
The Washington Post, May 2018 

“Rex Tillerson Proved CEOs Are DOA in Washington”
Foreign Policy. March 2018

“We Cannot Continue to Treat All Offensive Speech Acts – Intentional or Not – As Equally Blameworthy”
Pioneer Press, March 2018

“Serving Under Trump Is Not a Crime”
Foreign Policy, February 2018

“Trump’s Every Tweet Shouldn’t Dominate the News Cycle, but His Blather Demands Confrontation”
Los Angeles Times, January 2018

“Not all Campus Speakers are Created Equal (Especially When They’re From the German Far Right)”
The Washington Post, October 2017

“NFL Owners Need to Play Defense to Protect Free Speech” 
The Washington PostOctober 2017

“The Pro-Free Speech Way to Fight Fake News”
Foreign Policy, October 2017

“The Jemele Hill Controversy Portends a World Stripped of Our Culture of Free Expression”
Los Angeles Times, September 2017

“The Problem with Making Hate Speech Illegal”
Foreign PolicyAugust 2017

“How We Communicate is Changing. So Should the Way We Think About Free Speech.”
The Washington Post, August 2017

“The Gross Misconduct of Radwan Ziadeh’s Asylum Denial”
Foreign Policy. July 2017

“No, Hateful Speech is Not the Same Thing as Violence.”
The Washington Post, June 2017

“It’s OK that Trump Doesn’t Care About Human Rights”
Foreign Policy, June 2017

“Can Freedom of the Press Survive Trump’s Onslaught?”
Foreign Policy, May 2017

“Beware the Ides of Leaving the Human Rights Council”
Foreign Policy, March 2017

“‘America First’ Puts Freedom and Leadership Last”
CNN, March 2017

“What’s at Stake When Trump Discredits the Press”
Just Security, March 2017

“Milo Yiannopoulos, Hate Speech, and Campus Protest: A Primer”
The Washington Post, February 2017

“Donald Trump Acts Like an Authoritarian Thug Toward the Press”
The Guardian, January 2017

“To Fight ‘Hate Speech,’ Stop Talking About It”
The Washington Post, June 2016

“Pushing Back Against the Tyrants”
Democracy, Summer 2016

“What U.S. Publishers Owe China”
The Washington Post, May 2016

“Europe’s Free-Speech Apocalypse Is Already Here”
Foreign Policy, March 2016

“Who is Entitled to Be Heard?”
The New York Times, November 2015

“Who Will Speak for China’s Dissidents”
Los Angeles Times, September 2015

“The Fight Over Jemele Hills Tweets Won’t Go Away, It’s About Truth and Race in The Trump Era”
The Washington Post, September 2015

“Closing a Vital Window Into China”
Foreign Policy, February 2015

speaking engagements

Threats to Free Expression, with Suzanne Nossel | The President’s Inbox – Council on Foreign Relations
September 27, 2022

#VelshiBannedBookClub and PEN America go deep on Banned Books Week | MSNBC
September 24, 2022

Delete, Ban, Cancel: Public Understanding of Free Speech and Censorship | West Virginia University
September 20, 2022

Reinvigorating and renewing democracy | The Second Century London Conference – Chatham House
June 23, 2022

Book Banning and the First Amendment | Freedom Forum
June 21, 2022

Dare to Speak, Dare to Listen: Protecting Free Speech on the Frontlines | Iowa State University
April 13, 2022

COVID Update; City Council District 13; Debating Cancel Culture; Work Self vs. Home Self | The Brian Lehrer Show
March 30, 2022

Does The United States Have a Free Speech Problem? | MSNBC
March 21, 2022

Is China censoring Hollywood? | Tortoise
March 15, 2022

Banning Books | PBS NewsHour
March 10, 2022

NYC Landmarks50+ Alliance Winter Convening | New-York Historical Society
February 17, 2022

Affirmative Action; Police Surveillance; Book Bans and ‘Divisive Concepts’; EV Experience | The Brian Lehrer Show
February 9, 2022

LPTV: We’re Speaking | The Lincoln Project
February 9, 2022

What’s next? US – Canada relationship to confront digital authoritarianism | MIGS Institute
February 8, 2022

‘Maus’ Among Latest Titles Banned in Some American School Districts | KQED Forum
February 2, 2022

The Year in Misinformation | Start Here by ABC News
December 29, 2021 

PEN America Town Hall Meeting: Writers on Self-Censorship | PEN America
December 8, 2021 

Whine Line, Suzanne Nossel | The Charlie Brennan Show with Amy Marxkors
November 1, 2021 

Facebook Oversight Board member calls for more transparency | CNN’s Reliable Sources
October 24, 2021 

You Can’t Say Anything Anymore | The Progress Network
October 20, 2021 

Equity, Inclusion, and Uncompromised Free Speech | Wondros Podcast
October 13, 2021 

Dismantling Antisemitism: Dare to Speak with author Suzanne Nossel | Jewish Community Center of Greater Dayton
September 19, 2021 

Democracy, open societies and human rights: America’s global role since 9/11 | Chatham House
September 15, 2021 

To Safeguard Free Speech, We Must Protect Everyone’s Right To Be Heard — Even Those With Views Offensive To Others | Texas Public Radio
August 8, 2021 

Dare to Speak Freely | The Weeds
August 6, 2021 

Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All | Acton Line
July 7, 2021 

Freedom of Speech in France and America | Live at the National Constitution Center Podcast
June 1, 2021 

Disinformation vs. Democracy: Soros and the Fight for Open Societies | PEN America and the Brennan Center for Justice
March 22, 2021 

Assessing the Human Rights Situation in Saudi Arabia | U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism
March 18, 2021 

Dissent and Disagreement | Johns Hopkins University SNF Agora Institute
March 17, 2021 

Expert Panel: U.S. Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, and Human Rights | Columbia University Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
March 12, 2021

Dare to Speak: Free Speech Issues in Our Troubled Times | NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
March 8, 2021

“Speech, the Internet, and Democracy” featuring Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America | Bowdoin College
March 1, 2021 

Suzanne Nossel – Directrice générale de PEN America | Cultural Services, French Embassy in the United States
February 28, 2021 

Democracy in America: A New Era of Social Media Regulation? | Chatham House
February 25, 2021

Evening with an Author: Suzanne Nossel in conversation with Michelle Kuo | American Library in Paris
February 2, 2021

Reckoning and Reconciliation in Biden’s America | PEN America
January 26, 2021

CQ Future: Free speech | CQ Roll Call Policy and Politics
December 11, 2020

Suzanne Nossel, Dare to Speak | Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books with Zibby Owens
December 10, 2020

Recovering from the ‘fake news’ era, at home and abroad | CNN Reliable Sources
November 29, 2020

Dare to Speak. Discourse amid difference | KUOW/NPR
November 6, 2020

CERL Virtual Book Talk – Dare to Speak | University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
November 19, 2020

Amram Scholar Series Presents: Suzanne Nossel | Washington Hebrew Congregation
November 12, 2020

Suzanne Nossel with Mark Sableman and Pacia Elaine Anderson | Left Bank Books Presents
November 11, 2020

The Quarantine Tapes: Suzanne Nossel | The Quarantine Tapes Podcast
November 3, 2020

The First Amendment Salon “Defending Free Speech for All” | Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
October 29, 2020

2020 Annual Meeting | The City Club of Cleveland
October 23, 2020

Gamechanger Ideas Festival: The First Amendment, Cancel Culture, and the Election | Humanities North Dakota
October 15, 2020

Saving Our Democracy Town Hall | The AFT and the Albert Shanker Institute
October 13, 2020

Promoting Free Speech in a More Inclusive Public Culture | The Business of Giving
October 7, 2020

Free to State: The New Free Speech | Washington Post Live
October 7, 2020

Voting Matters: Disinformation | Washington Post Live
October 6, 2020

Beyond Representational Politics in Publishing | Brooklyn Book Festival
October 4, 2020

Dare to Speak Book Talk | National Center for Civil and Human Rights
September 30, 2020

PEN America’s Suzanne Nossel: Defending Free Speech | Commonwealth Club
September 21, 2020

Press Freedom During Turbulent Times | National Constitution Center
September 2, 2020

Suzanne Nossel with Dinaw Mengestu: Defending Free Speech for All | Town Hall Seattle
September 1, 2020

Free Speech, “Call-Out Culture,” and Social Justice | Princeton Policy Podcasts
August 23, 2020

Why we should all agree to disagree | Good Morning America
August 20, 2020

Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All | The German Marshall Fund of the United States
August 20, 2020

Suzanne Nossel presents Dare to Speak in conversation with Jacob Weisberg | Powell’s Books
August 17, 2020

Magic City Books Virtual Event | Magic City Books
August 10, 2020

Defending Your Right to Speak | Unprecedented with Richard Hine
August 6, 2020

Dare to Speak: Suzanne Nossel with Ayad Akhtar | Live from NYPL
August 6, 2020

New book examines free speech in America | CBS News
August 7, 2020

Protecting Free Speech Amid Global Reckoning on Race | The Foreign Correspondent Club Hong Kong
August 4, 2020

Suzanne Nossel | WCIN’s The Public Eye
August 2, 2020

Special Edition, Suzanne Nossel | Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech
July 31, 2020

Zoom Speaker Series: Suzanne Nossel | Charleston Library Society
July 30, 2020

Suzanne Nossel: What’s the Case Against Free Speech? | Keen On
July 30, 2020

Suzanne Nossel, Andrew Marantz, and Sewell Chan in Conversation | Open Book on Location, Altadena Library
July 30, 2020

Freedom of Speech | Deep Background with Noah Feldman
July 29, 2020

Suzanne Nossel, in conversation with Jennifer Egan | Live Talks Los Angeles
July 29, 2020

Dare to Speak with Wajahat Ali | Politics and Prose Live!
July 28, 2020

Hate and the Vilification of the Media | Bard Center for the Study of Hate
July 23, 2020

‘Dare to Speak’ with PEN America’s Suzanne Nossel | So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast
July 21, 2020

Free Expression on College Campuses with Dr. Wayne Frederick and Suzanne Nossel | Knight Foundation
July 2, 2020

Redefining Free Speech for the Digital Age | American University
February 23, 2020

The Loss of Local News with Suzanne Nossel | Bob Herbert’s Op-Ed TV
December 3, 2019

A Very American Diplomat: A New Biography of Richard Holbrooke Ι Asia Society
May 7, 2019

Panel on Global Hate Speech | University Indiana Bloomington
March 21, 2019

Who Benefits From Free Speech? | The Atlantic Free Speech (Un)Limited Event
Free Speech and the Free Press | The Atlantic Free Speech (Un)Limited Event
December 5, 2018

Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education: Race, Racial Justice, Civil Discourse, and Free Speech | University of Maryland
October 17, 2018

The Future of Information and the Impact on Democracy | 22nd Forum 2000 Conference
October 8, 2018

The Future of Free Speech | Chatauqua Institution
July 24, 2018

Trigger Warning: Safe Spaces are Dangerous | Intelligence Squared
June 23, 2018

Free to State: The First Amendment and the Law | Washington Post Live
June 19, 2018

March 10, 2018