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Senior Manager, The Freewrite Project (Prison & Justice Writing)

PEN America
New York City, New York
PEN America offers competitive compensation and benefits, commensurate with experience.
Closing date
Oct 31, 2021
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PEN America, a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a creative, energetic, and results-oriented senior manager with expertise in issues surrounding mass incarceration to launch The Freewrite Project, an important new creative leadership program for incarcerated writers. The position also will seek to expand PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing work by engaging new supporters and partners. This is a full-time position based in New York and reports to the director of Prison and Justice Writing.

The Freewrite Project will support the self-determination of writers in prison to form incarcerated-led community writing groups—equipped with PEN America’s forthcoming book on crafting a writer’s life in prison, supported by a PEN America expert mentor, and in partnership with prison libraries. Working collaboratively with the director of Prison and Justice Writing, The Freewrite Project senior manager will develop and deliver a wide-reaching and multistage program that involves extensive research, institutional relationship building with prison librarians across the country, large-scale book distribution, and arts and leadership curriculum building in tandem with a committee of prison writing program experts. This role will also involve presentations, events, and other activities to deepen engagement of the creative community with the project and the book it is based on.

The successful candidate will have capacity to conceptualize, launch, and ensure the effective execution of The Freewrite Project. At initial stages, this will include working with a research consultant to compile a database of prison libraries and creative writing and higher education programs in prisons nationwide and opening communication with the institutions. The role will further develop into supporting the launch and extensive distribution of PEN America’s The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting a Writer’s Life in Prison (Haymarket Books, January 2022), facilitating a curriculum design group with multiple stakeholders, identifying appropriate partners and launching prison-based writing collectives in prisons nationally, and training and supervising PEN America pedagogical facilitation mentors. This position may require limited travel in the United States.

This role will also be responsible for integrating the work under this program with the broader approach of PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing department and will also work cross-departmentally as needed, most specifically leveraging the expertise of our Free Expression Programs department in addressing book bans in prisons.

The ideal candidate will bring a working knowledge of mass incarceration in the United States, as well as significant previous involvement with the issue in a professional or volunteer setting. Candidates will benefit from some level of familiarity with interfacing with actors in the Department of Corrections or Bureau of Prisons and must hold a strong awareness of the challenges inherent in working through the walls. Experience facilitating arts programming in a prison or reentry setting and familiarity with the larger literary landscape and criminal justice reform/abolition community are expected.

Candidates representing diverse backgrounds—with a special emphasis on those with justice involvement—are strongly encouraged to apply.


  • Develop and manage The Freewrite Project, building from the ground up
  • Manage research projects identifying stakeholders for direct and indirect project partnerships in the prison library and prison arts community, and build relationships with key stakeholders
  • Support the launch of The Sentences That Create Us and leverage research to actively develop and implement a significant and wide-reaching book distribution plan into prisons and beyond
  • Plan, execute, and facilitate a curriculum design working group to develop training and evaluative processes for the project
  • Build strong relationships with prison librarians and incarcerated leaders, and support the formation of independent writing collectives
  • Train and manage PEN America facilitation mentors and deliver trainings as needed
  • Prepare content for social media and the website related to the project
  • Prepare reporting to donors and develop new funding proposals
  • Act as an ambassador for the project with partners and the public


  • Expertise in issues surrounding mass incarceration and in prison-related programs and a commitment to work at the intersection of these areas with free expression, literary culture, and social justice
  • Demonstrated capabilities in successfully delivering the full-range of program management requirements, from blank slate startup to celebrated results
  • Credentials and networks within the literary community, as well as the criminal justice reform/abolition space
  • Ability to work quickly and creatively on multiple fronts, both collaboratively and taking independent responsibility
  • Digital skills, including in developing webpages, online applications, and social media outreach
  • Ability to develop strategic vision as well as drill down to ensure success at granular levels of implementation
  • Demonstrated ability to develop new project concepts and contribute to fundraising
  • Organized work style, with the ability to thrive in a fast-moving work environment
  • A reputation for innovation and the ability to crack the code to solve challenges
  • Excellent written and oral presentation skills

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


Please submit a cover letter, resume, unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to Please use “Senior Manager, The Freewrite Project” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, Senior Manager, The Freewrite Project – 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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