Advocacy Campaign Manager, Free Expression and Education

PEN America
Washington D.C.
Nov 19, 2021
Dec 24, 2021
Full Time

PEN America, a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and experienced leader for our groundbreaking campaign to protect free expression in educational institutions. The campaign manager will have the tools and expertise to conceptualize and implement a national advocacy and coalition-building effort, supported by the research, partnerships, and outreach capacity of PEN America’s acclaimed free expression and education program. This is a full-time position with benefits for an 18-month term, with the potential for extension. It is expected that the position will be based in New York or Washington, D.C.; candidates based in other locations may be considered.

The campaign manager, working in collaboration with the free expression and education team, will develop and manage PEN America’s advocacy for free expression in educational institutions, including supporting academic freedom in higher education, and the freedom to read, learn, and teach in K-12 schools. This will entail coalition building in the higher education and K-12 education sectors and mobilizing a broad base of public support against censorious legislation and politically-motivated efforts to ban books and prohibit curricular materials, as documented in PEN America’s recent report, Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach. Responsibilities will include developing advocacy strategies, conducting outreach to individuals (including state and local-level elected officials) and institutions, liaising with partner organizations, relationship building with varied stakeholders, connecting with different audiences, event planning and execution, and mobilizing supporters and allies behind shared goals and collective actions.

PEN America’s free expression and education program aims to influence the national debate over free speech, with a particular emphasis on advocating for free speech in educational institutions and educating the rising generation. This includes working with schools, colleges, and universities in an effort to ensure robust protections for academic freedom and freedom of speech while advancing diversity, inclusion, and equality. PEN America posits that protecting free speech requires acknowledging and redressing the legacies of inequity in U.S. society. Our program engages in research, advocacy, trainings and workshops, public events, and educational programming, and has developed resources for administrators, students, and faculty, including the PEN America Principles on Campus Free Speech and the PEN America Campus Free Speech Guide. We have also produced two landmark reports on campus speech issues: And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion, and Free Speech at U.S. Universities and Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America.

The ideal candidate will be able to rapidly mobilize a broad-based effort to defend the freedom to teach and learn, helping to foster an engaging, inclusive approach to the defense of free speech in the education sector that resonates among diverse audiences. The position requires an energized and highly organized work style, attention to detail, a diplomatic disposition, and the ability to work collaboratively on advocacy and program development. The position will report to the director of free expression and education, and is part of PEN America’s broader Free Expression Programs team.


  • Lead and expand PEN America’s state- and local-level grassroots campaign concerning free expression in educational institutions
  • Identify state- and local-level opportunities for stakeholder mobilization in support of the campaign; design and implement strategies and tactical plans to mobilize a broad base of public support in defense of academic freedom and the freedom to learn, including against censorious legislation and policies
  • Conduct outreach and build relationships with critical stakeholders in support of those efforts, including national- and state-level educational associations
  • Identify strategies that would benefit from major public communications campaigns, and work alongside the communications and membership and national engagement teams to formulate strategies. Assist with tracking new threats to academic freedom and the freedom to learn, and contribute to analysis and organizational positions
  • Communicate effectively to a variety of audiences about issues of free speech and academic freedom
  • Collaborate with other PEN America staff and programs to coordinate advocacy, public programming, Membership activities, and other organizational initiatives as appropriate
  • Passionately support and advance PEN America’s mission to safeguard free expression in the United States and abroad
  • Depending on program needs and public health guidelines, domestic travel may be a significant part of this role, up to 40 percent


  • A minimum of three to five years of relevant experience, which could include demonstrated success in campaign management, policy and legislative advocacy, grassroots organizing, outreach and coalition building, and/or event organizing
  • Understanding of and interest in contemporary debates over free speech, particularly on college campuses and in schools
  • Familiarity with the secondary and/or higher education sectors; areas of professional background and engagement could include higher education, human rights, civil rights, advocacy, research, teaching, legal, or university-related work
  • A diplomatic disposition and ability to engage an ideologically varied set of stakeholders
  • Great facility with interpersonal communication and relationship building
  • Track record for independent project management, problem-solving, innovation, creativity, and effectiveness
  • Excellent writing, research, and presentation skills
  • Experience with using social media or other communications tools for professional purposes a plus

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

This position is contingent on funding.


Please submit a cover letter, resume, unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to Please use “Free Expression and Education Campaign Manager” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Free Expression and Education Campaign Manager – 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 stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free 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. 

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