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PEN American Center

PEN America General Manager, World Voices Festival

Background: PEN American Center is an organization of writers with a mission to both celebrate and defend freedom of expression. Comprised of more than 3,500 Members in the U.S. and working in cooperation with more than 20,000 writers worldwide, PEN American Center is the largest in a global network of PEN Centers in more than 100 countries. PEN fights for freedom of expression and acts as a powerful voice on behalf of writers harassed, imprisoned, and sometimes killed for their views. PEN American Center is in a period of expansion and transformation, working to meet the challenges of free expression in the digital age. PEN American Center’s programs include free expression advocacy in the U.S. and around the world, diverse and innovative literary programing, and initiatives to give voice to disenfranchised constituencies including writers in prison and in closed societies.

PEN American Center seeks a General Manager (GM) for its PEN World Voices Festival (The Festival). The Festival is the only international literary festival in the U.S., and the only festival of its kind with a human rights focus. The Festival has attracted the world’s best known writers and has garnered broad global acclaim as one of the world’s premier literary events. Since its founding 10 years ago, the Festival has presented more than 1500 writers and artists from 78 countries, speaking 56 languages. The Festival was founded by Salman Rushdie in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 with the aim of broadening channels of dialogue between the U.S. and the world. The Festival is entering its second decade in a position of strength and distinction. The General Manager will play a pivotal role in a fast-evolving organization. This is an exciting new leadership role offering opportunities for creativity, personal and professional growth.

The Position: PEN is looking for a strong, seasoned professional General Manager (GM) with solid business skills and passion for PEN’s mission to significantly grow the profile, financial base and audience of the World Voices Festival. The Festival has attracted important new support that will enable it to achieve key deliverables in terms of heightened audience, visibility and programmatic reach. The GM will work closely with PEN’s staff and leadership team, including the Festival’s Director and its non-Executive Chairman, PEN’s Finance Director, Communications Manager, Website Director and Executive Director. He or she will strengthen fundraising and financial management efforts, augment production standards, expand marketing efforts, build the Festival’s visibility and audience and develop and execute Festival events outside New York. This senior leadership position drives the business operations of the Festival, and helps to constructively balance artistic imperatives with the practicalities of producing a large event within budget parameters. The GM will recruit and supervise temporary staff, interns, volunteers and outside contractors. The ideal candidate has experience in artistic and managerial production, large-scale events and/or producing organizations. This efficient self-starter is strategic, dynamic, resourceful, systematic, detail-oriented and results-focused. He or she is a strong communicator and able to manage multiple competing duties to achieve significant results. This person is a hard-working, congenial team player, who can handle ambiguity while working with grace and a sense of humor in a fast-paced environment.

Responsibilities include:

• Drive the growth, development and branding of the World Voices Festival in collaboration with the Festival Director/Curator and PEN’s Executive Director

• Execute and manage Festival events within and outside New York City

• Manage the administration of all Festival operations

• Develop and cultivate existing and new funding relationships, including corporate sponsorships, to broaden the Festival’s financial base

• Strategize with the Finance Director and Festival Director/Curator to create a detailed operational budget while evaluating the impact of programmatic decisions on other financial and organizational priorities

• Develop and steward productive relationships with Festival partners

• Develop planning and production timelines and keep Festival team on time and on task

• Develop compelling, cogent fundraising proposals to match the needs and interests of potential funders and sponsors, and provide reliable and accurate reports and recognition

• Design and execute audience and participant evaluations and related analysis

• Oversee all Festival logistics including short-term staffing and volunteers as well as travel and accommodation of Festival guests

• Collaborate with Communications Manager, PR consultants and web team to increase Festival visibility, generate greater press coverage and improve and maximize online presence in line with growth targets

• Create and implement strategies to hit audience growth targets, including audience diversification

• Design and implement strategies to augment the professional benefits of Festival participation for international writers

• Responsibly steward resources, ensuring distribution and allocation for optimum balance of artistic quality, financial strength and organizational integrity

• Meet established six, nine and twelve month metrics


• Bachelor’s degree; advanced degree preferred

• Passion for PEN’s mission and interest in contemporary culture and literature

• Significant experience in artistic and events production and management; ability to work across a variety of arts disciplines

• Knowledge and experience in budget development and management

• Proven record as a fundraiser and in developing corporate sponsorships

• Experience taking initiative and shaping new organizational roles, as well as creating systems and work-plans to achieve core objectives

• Excellent organizational skills including attention to detail, ability to multi-task and manage diverse personalities and production styles in a fast-paced artistic environment

• Demonstrated ability to sustain effective, collegial partnerships within and outside an organization

• Superb communication skills

• Strong work ethic and success in delivering on objectives

• Computer proficiency (Microsoft Excel, Word and Outlook)

Compensation commensurate with experience. PEN is an equal opportunity employer. For more information about PEN, please visit their website at http://www.pen.org.

To Apply: PEN American Center has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to: Jack Lusk, Managing Partner Debbie Farrell, Director of Leadership and Development Harris Rand Lusk 122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605 New York, NY 10168 dfarrell@harrisrand.com. Include “PEN General Manager” in the subject line.

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Contact Information

Debbie Farrell
Director of Leadership and Development
122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605
Suite 3605
New York, NY 10168
Phone: (212) 867-5577

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