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Pen America

Washington D.C, District of Columbia 20001
Job Type:
Job Status:
Full Time
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Job Details

PEN America is looking for a dynamic, innovative, connected and independent Washington Director to serve as PEN America’s primary advocate and strategist in Washington, D.C. at a critical moment of growth and opportunity for the global free expression organization.  The successful candidate will be highly self-motivated and will enjoy considerable autonomy in launching and building PEN America’s D.C. presence. The Washington Director, serving in a new position, will bring entrepreneurial drive, a formidable work ethic, affinity for fast-paced environments and a tenacious approach to making PEN America even more central to the free expression debates of the day at a pivotal time in the United States for free expression and the liberties that make it possible. Serving as a senior member of the organization’s leadership, the Washington Director will bring deep knowledge and insights into the Washington policy making process across the legislative and executive branches and the NGO community as well as a penchant for engagement, coordination, advocacy and campaigning to promote and defend free expression in the face of current challenges.


·         Developing positive working relationships and partnerships where appropriate with representatives of the executive and legislative branches, the press, other non-profits, and other important actors in Washington, D.C.;

·         Developing and implementing advocacy strategies on individual cases and wider policy issues targeting policymakers in the legislative and executive branches;

·         Setting priorities for PEN America’s engagement in Washington, DC by identifying gaps in the advocacy landscape and opportunities to bring the organization’s unique assets to bear;

·         Driving results in the form of legislation passed or blocked, actions by the executive branch, press coverage for priority issues and heightened attention to free expression issues in the policy debate;

·         Building, leading and supporting coalitions that can help advance PEN America’s mission;

·         Tracking relevant legislative developments and communicating updates to PEN America’s staff, leadership, and membership and working with colleagues to analyze those developments;

·         Preparing written materials directed to policymakers, PEN America members and the public that will influence the free expression debate;

·         Organizing advocacy delegations of U.S. and international writers to Washington, D.C.;

·         Working on behalf of individual cases of writers at risk to elevate their profile in situations where Washington policymakers can make a difference;

·         Engaging with the press, including drafting press releases, editorial pieces, and blog posts;

·         Developing, cultivating, and stewarding relationships with institutional and individual funders, including identifying and securing new funding sources to build PEN America’s Washington presence;

·         Engaging with PEN America membership of writing professionals;

·         Organizing free expression events to spotlight critical issues;

·         Building PEN America’s visibility and outreach circles; 

·         Participating as a member of PEN America’s leadership team and playing a role in the overall management of the organization.


·         Superb academic credentials; BA required;

·         7+ years of progressively responsible experience in public advocacy, preferably relating to free expression, civil liberties, international affairs and/or human rights;

·         A powerful network of relevant contacts

·         Knowledge of human rights and the First Amendment;

·         Experience in press outreach, campaigning, digital, and social media;

·         Demonstrated leadership and program-building success;

·         A track record for effective fundraising and constituency building.

·         A strong interest in the world of literature and writers;


·         Self-motivated, highly energetic, well organized, with a tested entrepreneurial spirit;

·         Ability to write exceptionally well, and quickly;

·         Ability to speak articulately and persuasively;

·         Excellent diplomatic and interpersonal skills.


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.

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 Please use “Washington Director” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, Washington 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.


PEN America, founded in 1922, is the largest of more than 100 centers of PEN International. For more than 90 years, we have been working together with our colleagues in the international PEN community to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. In doing so, we are building on a tradition begun in the years following World War I and carried forward by thousands of American writers.

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