PEN America

Director of Literary Programs and Outreach

PEN America is looking for a dynamic, energetic, and innovative Director of Literary Programs and Outreach to build upon recent achievements in growing and strengthening our community of writers dedicated to the celebration and defense of free expression worldwide. The Director of Literary Programs and Outreach is PEN America’s face to the literary community, working to build the organization’s profile, relevance, and impact within its core constituency. The Director is a senior member of the organization’s leadership team; supervises a four full-time employees and a large number of consultants and interns; and governs four member-led committees. The Director will have the opportunity to foster further growth in this core area of the organization.

Core responsibilities for the Director of Literary Programs include:

Outreach to the Literary Community. The Director will front and implement PEN America's outreach to the literary community through planning events, engaging with literary organizations, identifying and developing partnerships in the literary arena, taking part in advocacy efforts in the name of literature‎, and devising innovative ways to strengthen PEN's role in and contributions to the literary community. The Director will also play a pivotal role in explorations over the coming years regarding a larger role for PEN America in cities outside the tri-state area.

Building and Engaging PEN America's Membership. PEN America's membership of more than 4,500 writers is the core of our institutional strength. The Director, in partnership with the Senior Membership Manager as well as the Membership Committee, will develop strategic initiatives to build and sustain membership and membership revenue, and to achieve and exceed annual targets for membership growth and diversity. Relevant tactics include outreach online, by mail, by phone, and in person; strategic partnerships and exchanges with publishers and other allies; branded presence at literary events; compelling member offers and benefits; messaging; marketing campaigns off and online and on social media; renewal strategy; and rigorous data tracking to analyze and react to membership trends. The Director will also amplify PEN America's engagement with its members through organizing events, rallying members behind free expression advocacy initiatives; and celebrating and spotlighting members’ work and achievements.

Overseeing and building PEN America’s Literary Awards. The PEN America Literary Awards are the U.S.’s most comprehensive program of literary awards.  Working in partnership with a seasoned and expert Literary Awards Manager and Awards Committee, the Director will ensure further innovations and deepen engagement for donors, judges, award winners, and readers in the awards program; raise the profile of the Literary Awards ceremony to become a signature event for the literary community; secure important new awards that add to the salience, prestige, and impact of the Awards program; and build public and press attention for the Awards.

Curating Literary Content.  The Director will develop and implement a strategy for curating excerpts, interviews, and other literary content in multimedia formats on the PEN America website and other platforms. This task will also include developing partnerships to source content, coordinating with other PEN departments, and identifying routes to expand the audience for this content.

Building Support. Working in partnership with PEN America's Department of Institutional Advancement, the Director will be responsible for growing revenue to sustain and grow literary programs through increases in earned revenue from membership and awards, corporate sponsorships, foundation fundraising, public arts funding sources, and individual donor cultivation.


The successful candidate will have a demonstrated passion for books and the literary community and a love for engaging in conversations at all levels about writers and writing; a commitment to free expression worldwide, deep reservoirs of drive and tenacity; creative and strategic thinking; and powerful problem-solving skills. The successful candidate will come with a vision for the future potential of PEN America’s role in the literary community, concrete ideas for how to achieve those aspirations, and a demonstrated track record of being able to deliver on comparable goals.  

Specific attributes of the successful candidate will include:

  • Passionate and energetic engagement with the literary community in New York City and more broadly
  • Top tier academic credentials (BA or equivalent required)
  • A minimum of seven years of relevant and progressively more responsible work experience
  • Demonstrated stamina and the ability to thrive in a fast-moving work environment
  • Ambition to set and realize high aspirations
  • A zeal for outreach and the ability to draw in others for common enterprise
  • An efficient, energized, and highly organized management style
  • A reputation for innovation and the ability to crack the code to solve management challenges
  • Powerful interpersonal skills and the ability to build strong working relationships‎ across diverse groups of stakeholders
  • Demonstrated ability to build and lead motivated teams
  • Tested ability to‎ generate funding and support for compelling initiatives
  • The ability to develop strategic vision as well as drill down to ensure success at granular levels of implementation

Salary and Benefits: PEN 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 “Director of Literary Programs and Outreach” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, "Director of Literary Programs – 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.

Contact Information

May Zhee Lim, Executive Assistant
Executive Office
588 Broadway
Suite 303
New York
Contact Phone: 
(646) 779-4811
Contact e-mail: