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Director, Special Events

PEN America
New York, United States
$100,000.00 - $125,000.00
Closing date
Oct 26, 2022

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Position Type
Fundraising, Special Events
Advocacy, Arts
Employment Type
Full Time
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PEN America, a growing nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks a dynamic and experienced fundraising events professional to serve as director of special events. As part of our development department, the director will lead, produce, and execute the organization’s annual galas and other fundraising and cultivation events, build and steward relationships, and develop sponsorship partners. The ideal candidate will have a demonstrated track record of planning large-scale galas as well as providing oversight to small- to mid-sized events. Important attributes include accountability, organizational skills, creativity, and comfort with juggling multiple timelines and projects calmly and strategically. We view this as a significant organizational leadership opportunity handling one of the organization’s most important and fast-growing revenue channels.

The position is part of a 10-member team of fundraising professionals committed to advancing PEN America’s mission. This is a full-time position based in the New York office. This position is in person; however, as of October 2021, PEN America has been working on the basis of three days per week in our New York office, local health conditions permitting, with two days being remote. Applicants should be available for in-office work if it is safe to do so. The position reports to the chief development officer (CDO).

The role’s primary responsibilities include managing all aspects of PEN America’s annual New York Literary Gala as well as assisting with the Los Angeles LitFest Gala. These fundraising events collectively generate at least $5 million and welcome more than 1,200 guests annually. The  director of special events works directly with the CDO in managing all aspects of these key fundraising and cultivation events, conducting solicitations, securing sponsors, and overseeing event program management and will supervise the special events assistant. The director also provides other support for attainment of organizational fundraising targets, including assisting with donor development activities and general development operations.

The successful candidate will be driven, organized, and meticulous, with a polished and systematic approach and with experience supervising at least one direct report. A comfort level interacting with PEN America’s community of high-profile writers, activists, and allied supporters in person, virtually, and in written communication is crucial for this role.

PEN America is a fast-growing organization with a vital mission to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. We have a membership of more than 7,500 authors, journalists, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and others from the writing profession, as well as an even larger network of devoted readers and supporters who join with them to carry out PEN America’s mission. This position is central to PEN America’s strategies for expansion and even greater impact.

  • In collaboration with the CDO, oversee all logistics in planning the annual galas
  • Develop and implement cultivation and stewardship strategies for gala committee members, major prospects, and high-level donors for the galas, in coordination with other donor engagement
  • Oversee event consultants and liaise with venues and service providers
  • Oversee and coordinate preparation of all collateral and marketing materials, including invitations, programs, solicitation materials, “ask” letters, other print and digital material as needed, and updates to the website
  • Create and maintain documents to track progress of events, as well as all event revenue and budgets
  • Process contracts and invoices and ensure budget reconciliation
  • Coordinate details with all special guests and attendees
  • Coordinate staffing of all events, draft run of show and other support materials, recruit volunteers, and serve as event point person
  • Oversee research and development of corporate sponsors
  • Coordinate annual cultivation events in conjunction with the senior manager of events for Authors’ Evenings
  • Co-manage the special events assistant
  • Other development responsibilities as assigned
  • Minimum of seven years of fundraising event planning experience at a nonprofit organization, specifically overseeing large scale events such as galas
  • Superb written and verbal communications skills, copyediting and proofreading skills, familiarity with brand-conscious design, and ability to compose digital communications
  • Demonstrated success as a team player engaging in both “big picture” thinking and mundane details
  • Demonstrated energy and stamina, with the ability to multitask in a dynamic and fast-paced environment
  • Ambition to strengthen and grow an already-successful and substantial fundraising events program
  • Excellent judgment, strong decision-making and negotiation skills, and a collaborative and results-oriented approach
  • Commitment to PEN America’s mission and demonstrated ability to connect with donors linked to our community of writers, journalists, activists, and allies
  • Experience with human rights and/or arts and culture fundraising a strong plus
  • Experience with developing corporate sponsorships a plus
  • Strong proficiency with Microsoft Office suite, including Publisher; familiarity with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, or Canva; familiarity with Raiser’s Edge a plus

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


Please submit a cover letter, resume, unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. A cover letter must accompany the resume to be considered for the position. Please submit the entire application to Please use “Director, Special Events” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Director, Special Events – 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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