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- Senior Director of Free Expression Programs, PEN America, USA

PEN America is seeking an authoritative, motivated, and effective Senior Director to lead our growing portfolio of initiatives in defense of free expression in the United States and internationally. As a member of PEN America’s management team, the Senior Director will have an important role in the overall direction of our dynamic organization at a time when its work is more challenging and critical than ever. The successful candidate will have a deep passion for our mission, a formidable work ethic, an inventive and ambitious approach, and the ability to execute initiatives with impact and efficiency. The Senior Director will lead a current team of 3-5 professionals along with consultants and interns and a program budget of more than $1.5 million. The position offers significant opportunity to build on this foundation and comes with a mandate to identify new ways in which PEN America’s free expression team can have increased influence by developing and funding new projects.


The Senior Director will also have a public-facing role with media, counterpart organizations, funders, and supporters, and be encouraged to become a respected voice for our advocacy. The position involves shared but vital responsibility for fund-raising with institutional, government, and individual donors. The successful candidate must be an insightful, thoughtful, and fervent advocate for free expression and human rights more broadly, and be willing to exercise the leadership that will expand the impact of PEN America’s work to this end.


PEN America, founded in 1922, has a membership of more than 4,600 writers and their allies and is the largest of more than 100 PEN Centers networked worldwide. We work through advocacy, research, public events, literary awards and programs, and partnerships to protect free expression rights and celebrate the creative expression these liberties make possible in the United States and worldwide. With a budget of $5.5 million, we have grown rapidly in recent years and have an ambitious strategy to address challenges to free speech, press freedom, the right to protest, the ability of marginalized voices to be heard, and the protection of the value of truth and reason.  As this mission takes on ever more urgency in the United States and internationally and our programing and staff expand, we have created this new position as the senior leader for the range of our free expression efforts.




Lead the strategic expansion and effective execution of PEN America’s free expression initiatives

Provide intellectual leadership on the breadth of free expression issues, including incisive interpretation of breaking developments and longer term trends

Build PEN America’s reputation and profile as a force for free expression, including through public events and campaigns, landmark research, mobilization of PEN members and media engagement

Expand PEN America’s toolkit of advocacy techniques, our series of research reports, and the breadth of our free expression work both domestically and internationally

Develop, cultivate and steward relationships with institutional, government and individual funders , including identifying and securing new fundings our cestoenable program expansion

Contribute to overall organizational strategy and identify and lead opportunities for growth, inter-departmental coordination, and expanded impact and visibility

Represent PEN America’s free expression positions and programs to media, at public forums, with counterpart organizations, and before donors and key PEN supporters.

Strengthen international collaborations, including with the global network of PEN Centers and other organizations engaged on free expression advocacy.

Manage and mentor staff, and identify and direct consultants

Develop, manage and assure adherence to departmental budget




Demonstrated commitment to and expansive understanding of human rights principles, with specific expertise in free expression issues strongly preferred

Demonstrated understanding of global affairs, the workings of governments and multi-lateral organizations, and a network of U.S. and international contacts, preferably in the fields of human rights advocacy

At least 10 years of increasingly responsible professional experience in related positions with significant strategy-setting and management roles

Experience in conceptualizing and executing advocacy campaigns and original research projects

Excellent academic credentials; BA degree required and graduate degree preferred

Demonstrated success in leveraging an organization’sstrategicassetsto heighten its impact and visibility

Proven success in fund-raising with institutional, government, and individual donors

Exceptional written and oral communication skills, including with media and in public platforms

Facility with online platforms and social media

Powerful work ethic and demonstrated stamina, with proven ability to multi-task and meet tight deadlines

Ability to network and build purposeful partnerships

Tested ability to lead by setting ambitious targets and guiding teams to meet them

Excellent diplomatic and interpersonal skills, including in creating and participating in collaborations


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


To Apply: Please submit a substantive cover letter describing your interest in the position and your fit with the qualifications along with a current resume and unedited writing sample to:

Lauren I. Gumbs

Senior Partner

Gumbs + Partners

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To learn more about PEN America, please visit:


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.


Job posted on 12th May 2017

Please mention Human Rights Jobs when applying to this position