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Program Assistant, Digital Safety and Free Expression

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic, organized, and detail-oriented program assistant to join our efforts to defend creative and media professionals, as well as their allies and employers, from online abuse and protect their free expression rights online. This is a full-time position based in New York or Washington, D.C. and reports to the Senior Manager, Digital Safety and Free Expression.

The program assistant will work with PEN America’s in-house experts to drive forward our online abuse defense program by: leading coordination and administrative support for our training program and wider team; expanding our engagement with affected audiences in the creative and media sectors; managing existing partnerships and forging new ones; and following current developments in online abuse, content moderation, and digital safety. 

The ideal candidate will be deeply committed to making online spaces safer and more equitable, passionate about protecting free expression rights online, possess an understanding of intersectionality, and be attuned to the challenges to digital safety in an era of rapidly evolving technology. The position requires an energized and highly organized work style, a diplomatic disposition, and the ability to work collaboratively on fast-paced program development and expansion. It offers substantial potential for professional advancement as PEN America’s programming in this area expands.

Online abuse—from violent threats and hateful slurs to sexual harassment and doxing—poses a direct and pressing threat to free expression. In response, we launched our online abuse defense program in 2018, which has since reached over 400,000 people. Our program is focused on fighting online abuse and making online spaces safer, more equitable, and more free by: 1) equipping those facing abuse with resources and training to defend themselves; 2) collaborating with news outlets and media organizations, universities, and other employers to protect and support staff facing harassment; 3) conducting research and advocacy to hold social media companies accountable for online harms; and 4) working in coalition with partner organizations to fight back.

The program assistant will play a key role in moving this important work forward. The position is part of PEN America’s Free Expression Programs team.


  • Lead coordination for planning and implementation of online abuse defense training program, working closely with PEN America’s senior manager, trainers, and partner organizations on updating curricula and presentations, scheduling, drafting contracts, processing invoices, collecting program feedback and tracking impact, etc.
  • Develop and grow reach of materials and resources for digital safety and online abuse defense, including building new resources and drafting and updating content
  • Provide administrative support across the team, including:
  • Calendar management and scheduling of meetings
  • Database management and record-keeping
  • Planning team meetings, team-building activities, etc.
  • Expense reporting, financial reconciliation, and other budget tasks
  • Other duties as assigned
  • Support the development and execution of research and writing projects
  • Support intern/fellow recruitment and management
  • Support development and fundraising efforts, including assistance researching funding opportunities, drafting proposals, tracking impact, and drafting grant reports 
  • Support communications efforts, including working closely with the communications team to: advance advocacy campaigns; draft compelling social media copy and toolkits; and conduct research and outreach to influencers
  • Follow current developments in online abuse, anti-harassment, and digital content moderation and conduct relevant research and analysis
  • Creatively 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

​​All PEN America staff are considered to be stakeholders in the development of our shared organization. As such, staff play a role in varied activities within the workplace as part of their job responsibilities. These may include committees or task forces to work on office issues, diversity and inclusion, strategy projects, training or other initiatives.


  • A minimum of one year of relevant experience in journalism or media, communications, technology, project management or coordination, policy advocacy, and/or research 
  • Strong administrative and project management skills, including managing budgets, timelines, and short- and long-term deadlines for deliverables
  • Highly detail-oriented and organized
  • Experience with social media, website content management systems, and communications utilizing multiple platforms
  • Track record for independent problem-solving, creativity, and effectiveness
  • Strong knowledge of free expression issues and familiarity with contemporary debates over online harassment
  • A diplomatic disposition and great facility with interpersonal communication and relationship building
  • Excellent writing, research and presentation skills
  • Personal qualities of integrity, empathy, patience, respect for others, and a willingness to learn

Salary and Benefits: PEN America offers competitive compensation and full benefits. The salary range for this position is $45k-50k, commensurate with experience. Candidates whose expectations are outside this range are welcome to apply, as PEN America is open to considering talented individuals at varying stages of their careers. PEN America’s benefits package includes medical, dental, and vision health insurance, paid time off, 10 paid holidays, pre-tax commuter benefits and a 403b retirement plan. 

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and an unedited writing sample to Please use “Program Assistant, Digital Safety” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Program Assistant, Digital Safety – Jane Doe”). Please also share where you heard about this position in the body of your email. 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.