Washington Director

PEN America
Washington D.C.
PEN America offers competitive compensation and benefits, commensurate with experience
Jan 31, 2018
Mar 07, 2018
Executive, Director
Full Time

PEN America is looking for a dynamic, innovative, well-connected Director to serve as PEN America’s representative, advocate, and organizational leader in Washington, D.C. at a critical moment of growth for the global free expression organization. The successful candidate will be highly self-motivated and will enjoy considerable autonomy in building PEN America’s presence and advocacy agenda in Washington. The Director 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 speech debates at a time of significant challenge for free expression in the U.S. and around the world. Serving as a senior member of the organization’s leadership, the Director will bring deep knowledge and insights into the Washington policymaking 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. The Director will be a program and organization builder, engaged in fundraising, member outreach, and program design with the goal of steadily strengthening PEN America in Washington.


  • Building a vision and strategy for PEN America’s Washington, D.C. presence, including developing the advocacy agenda, resource base, media outreach, network development, and membership engagement
  • Identifying opportunities to strengthen PEN America’s organizational profile in Washington, with the objective of growing the office’s scope and scale steadily over time
  • Developing positive working relationships, coalitions, and partnerships where appropriate with representatives of the executive and legislative branches, the media, non-profits, think tanks, universities, and other important actors and institutions in Washington, D.C.
  • Developing and implementing advocacy strategies on a range of free expression 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
  • Connecting the organization to D.C. policymaking by actively monitoring developments in Washington on key free expression issues, providing analysis of the political and policy landscape, and coordinating consistently with the broader PEN America staff;
  • Leading the organization’s response to legislative, judicial, or policy developments in Washington on free expression issues
  • Drafting written products – e.g., policy papers, press releases, op-eds, etc. – relating to a range of free expression issues
  • Recruiting and managing a team of Washington-based interns and, as resources allow, staff
  • Media engagement, including representing PEN America to Washington-focused outlets
  • Developing, cultivating, and stewarding relationships with institutional and individual funders, including identifying and securing new funding sources to build the Washington presence
  • Engaging with PEN America’s membership of writing professionals
  • Organizing free expression events to spotlight critical issues
  • 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
  • A minimum of 5-7 years of progressively responsible experience in public advocacy, preferably relating to free expression, civil liberties, international affairs and/or human rights
  • A strong network of relevant DC contacts
  • Knowledge of human rights and familiarity with current and pressing issues around free expression in the U.S. and internationally
  • Experience in press outreach, campaigning, and digital and social media
  • Demonstrated leadership and program-building success
  • A track record for effective fundraising and constituency building
  • An interest in the world of literary writers, journalism, and artistic expression


  • Comfortable leading a one-person office initially supported by interns
  • Ability to multi-task and keep varied projects progressing
  • Strong interest in both US and international issues
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills necessarily to build relationships and facilitate remote engagement with supervisor and colleagues
  • Self-motivated, highly energetic, well organized, with a tested entrepreneurial spirit
  • Ability to engage in rapid response to political or policy developments
  • Ability to write exceptionally well, and quickly, and speak articulately and persuasively

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.

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@pen.org. 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.

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