Campus Free Speech Initiative Project Director

PEN America
New York City
Mission Statement: 

 PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open 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.

Position Description: 

PEN America seeks an innovative and energetic leader to spearhead a high-profile, widely acclaimed program defending free speech at U.S. colleges and universities. The Project Director will drive forward PEN America’s work in shaping this national debate by expanding the organization’s thought leadership, engagement, and outreach. PEN America has forged a unique role in this national ​agenda​, urging 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 to protect free speech on campus requires acknowledging the legacies of inequity that persist on college campuses today.In October 2016, PEN America released And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion, and Free Speech at U.S. Universities, a groundbreaking study analyzing the recent upsurge of speech-related controversies on college campuses.  The report and accompanying PEN America Principles on Campus Free Speech have become a seminal resource for university officials, faculty, students, scholars, journalists and speech groups across the political spectrum.  Since the publication of the report, PEN America has engaged in an expanding array of activities to promote and develop its ideas, including advocacy and outreach, trainings, and a series of convenings on four campuses around the U.S. PEN America now seeks an energetic, visionary full-time leader to further develop our Campus Speech Project and contribute meaningfully to fostering an engaging, inclusive approach to the defense of free speech at universities and among a rising generation of Americans.   Responsibilities: 

  • Building and amplifying PEN America’s campus speech work through advocacy, analysis, and engagement on key issues; outreach to critical stakeholders; and identifying other forms of intervention that build upon PEN America’s existing work.
  • Building relationships with relevant organizations and with college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders at schools across the country and identifying opportunities for innovative partnerships and collaborations.
  • Identifying areas of opportunity for innovative research projects, public-facing campaigns, and legislative advocacy focused on campus speech, and overseeing the development and implementation of such efforts.
  • Developing materials for use by campus administrators, student leaders, and faculty.
  • Monitoring and analyzing relevant developments on America’s college campuses and guiding PEN America’s responses, in coordination with other PEN staff.
  • Attending and speaking at conferences and other events
  • Proposal-writing and donor cultivation to sustain and build the project
  • Supervising related staff and interns.


  • A minimum of 3-5 years of relevant experience in program management, 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.
  • Proven experience with network building and collaborative program development.
  • Excellent research and writing skills, including for rapid response to new developments (e.g., press releases, blog posts) and for longer reports.
  • Relevant professional backgrounds include: journalism, human rights, civil rights, research, legal, or university-related professional work. EdM/D, JD, MA, LCSW or MS preferred.


  • High level of energy, strong stamina and demonstrated ability to effectively multitask in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to respond quickly and effectively to breaking developments in the public sphere
  • Capacity to conceive and execute mission-aligned, strategic and distinctive projects and programs
  • Track record for innovation, creativity and effectiveness in advocacy and outreach
  • Passion for PEN America’s mission and work, and for safeguarding free expression.
  • Strong organizational and event-planning skills.
  • Excellent diplomatic and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability and willingness to travel nationally
PEN America offers competitive compensation and benefits, commensurate with experience.
Application Deadline: 
Friday, June 29, 2018
Application Instructions: 

 To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to jobs [at] Please use “Project Director, Campus Free Speech Initiative” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, Project Director, Campus Free Speech Initiative - 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.

Position Level: 
Country/US Territory: 
United States