PEN America

Chief Development Officer

To Apply

PEN America has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to:
Anne McCarthy or
Elly Kirschner
Harris Rand Lusk
260 Madison Avenue, 15th Floor New York, NY 10016


Please put “PEN America CDO” in the subject line of your e-mailed application.

PEN America is a leading nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. PEN America’s programs defend writers, artists, and journalists and protect free expression worldwide. This work includes research and reports on topical issues; advocacy on free expression challenges; campaigns on policy issues and on behalf of individual writers and journalists under threat; year-round festivals and events; literary awards; fellowships; and more.

Founded in 1922, PEN America works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. PEN America’s strength is in its Membership—a nationwide community of novelists, journalists, nonfiction writers, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and other writing professionals, as well as devoted readers and supporters who join with them to carry out PEN America’s mission.

PEN America is headquartered in New York City with offices in Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL and Washington DC. A staff of about 85 is led by Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel, an internationally recognized authority on free expression.

The Position:
PEN America is seeking an exceptional and seasoned fundraising professional to become its next Chief Development Officer. Working closely with a visionary and charismatic CEO, a highly skilled and knowledgeable staff, and a motivated and engaged Board of Trustees, the CDO will be a catalytic leader who helps PEN America reach new heights in terms of fund development in support of its programs and the organization as a whole. This work requires someone who shares PEN America’s vision and embraces PEN America’s mission to raise awareness for the protection of free expression in the United States and worldwide, rejecting ideological orthodoxies and dogmas.  The CDO must be comfortable with PEN America’s defense of speech that may be offensive and discomfiting to some, and that reflects a wide range of political opinions and ideologies.

The CDO will help build on and elevate activities that engage current and prospective donors; lead the acceleration of research, identification and cultivation of new prospects from a broad range of constituencies; unleash new fundraising opportunities in areas that may include planned giving, national fundraising and leadership gifts, and proactively ensure PEN America has the appropriate infrastructure to support a distinctiveand fast-growing philanthropy program. PEN America has a strong bench of talented, energized and knowledgeable development team leads and is looking for a leader who brings decades of experience in larger organizations and can help inspire these professionals and drive impact to the next levels of growth.

This is a highly visible and critical role; the ideal candidate must be a skilled and effective communicator and relationship builder capable of integrating smoothly into the management and organizational culture of PEN America.  They must be a proven mentor with the ability to partner with highly valued senior staff.  They must have demonstrable ability and a track record of revenue generation as PEN America is on a trajectory for significant growth.  In addition, they must be smart and strategic, entrepreneurial, have high energy, be a self-starter, and have a good sense of self and their own personal abilities. They must be committed to our organizational values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Specific Responsibilities

Working closely with the leadership and staff of PEN America, the CDO will:

  • Provide vision and leadership for all aspects of PEN America’s fundraising program, and will integrateand elevate fundraising best practices across all levels and types of giving
  • Partner with the CEO and Board of Trustees to develop and implement an augmented fundraising plan that will advance PEN America’s fundraising growth, strengthen the pipeline and increase donors’ affinity with their mission
  • Identify and unlock opportunities to secure larger scale individual and foundation gifts, in the six, seven and eight figure ranges
  • Build a broader base of support by refining the message and deepening a high-touch, high-level donor program that stewards existing and new donors
  • Position and support the CEO and key senior leaders for donor cultivation and major gift solicitations
  • Engage the Board in meaningful participation that will boost a culture of fundraising, support, and engagement
  • Manage a portfolio of individual donors, including the direct solicitation of major gifts
  • Identify and craft funding opportunities that align with the interests of donors in the portfolio and the organization’s strategic priorities
  • Create strategies for success, set appropriate development goals and milestones, and implement benchmarking and progress measurement procedures
  • Execute a best-practice program that builds and manages the pipeline, supporting a streamlined and scalable development effort
  • Manage an effective development operational infrastructure by augmenting efficient systems and procedures, including those that track fundraising goals, and enable real-time reporting to key program leads
  • Create briefing memos, presentations, and other materials for leadership and donor meetings and reports
  • Oversee institutional giving, identifying cultivating and sustaining multi-year partnerships
  • Prepare an annual development budget and ensure that budgeting supports the organization’s mission and strategic plan, as well as efficient and effective use of resources
  • Lead, manage and develop a superb Development team to support a culture of high performance and accountability
  • Active involvement with the inner workings of the organization as a member of the senior leadership team


  • Bachelor’s Degree; minimum 10-15 years professional fundraising experience in non-profits with budgets in the tens or hundreds of millions
  • Track record of success in developing and implementing fundraising plans at scale
  • Proven ability to cultivate and sustain relationships with sophisticated, high-level donors
  • Superb academic credentials and the ability to achieve fluency across PEN America’s multiple, nuanced and complex areas of work
  • Top-notch writing skills and the ability to oversee, produce, edit and quality control flawless correspondence and proposals
  • Systems-oriented and data-driven leader with well-honed fundraising operations skills, including the ability to critically evaluate fundraising efforts
  • Demonstrated experience fundraising for policy, research and advocacy bodies of work
  • Solid experience working with and supporting a Board of Trustees, including board development
  • Strong management skills and experience cultivating and building a team of committed and achievement-focused senior professionals
  • Analytical, organized, proactive, detail-oriented with strong ability to prioritize
  • Outstanding oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to interact professionally with internal and external stakeholders who have diverse backgrounds, professional skills, and perspectives
  • Creative, strategic thinker with excellent project management and cross-functional fundraising skills
  • Strong follow-through with the proven ability to set and meet deadlines and benchmarks
  • Able to work effectively as part of a collegial and collaborative team
  • Commitment to PEN America’s mission, centered on the celebration and defense of free expression for all. Willingness to defend the right to engage in speech that may be offensive and discomfiting and that reflects a wide range of political opinions and ideologies. PEN America promotes open and respectful dialogue across difference, and we work to allow a diversity of perspectives to flourish.
  • Commitment to PEN America’s advocacy and support for writers, artists and their allies around the world, without regard to the ideology or actions of their country’s government
  • Must be a self-starter and independent worker with an entrepreneurial spirit and strategic growth mindset

PEN America is an Equal Opportunity Employer. PEN America does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, color, sex, age, gender identification, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability. All qualified applications will be given equal opportunity and selection decisions are based solely on job-related factors.

PEN America’s staff work in the office a minimum of 3 days per week, with senior leaders mostly on-site 5 days per week. This role is suitable for a professional who appreciates in-office work and collaboration. This is an outstanding opportunity for a highly motivated professional to assume a pivotal role in the evolution of a fast-growing, highly respected organization. PEN America is seeking an individual of outstanding quality with a respected record of accomplishment. The projected compensation is in the $225,000-$250,000 range, plus benefits. The position will be based at the New York City headquarters. PEN America has a strong commitment to an in-person work culture and anticipates the CDO will be an in-office presence throughout the week.

For more information about PEN America, please visit their website at www.pen.org

122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605, New York, NY 10168