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Chief Operating Officer, Freedom Reads

Freedom Reads
Connecticut, United States
$150,000.00 - $170,000.00
Closing date
Feb 17, 2023

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Position Type
Employment Type
Full Time



Freedom Reads is a first-of-its-kind organization that uses literature to confront the hopelessness and desperation that accompany time served in prison. The aim of the organization is to place millions of books into prisons by installing a 500-book micro-library in every prison dormitory and housing unit in the United States. In the tradition of Freedom Schools and Freedom Riders, the libraries are named Freedom Libraries because of the organizational belief that freedom begins with a book. Founded in 2020 with a $5.25 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, Freedom Reads is the only organization in the country with a mission to provide a specially curated library to people in prison and in doing so radically transform the means by which literature can be accessed.


Since July 2022, Freedom Reads has opened 60 Freedom Libraries across seven states and 19 prisons. This unprecedented success includes opening libraries in notoriously violent prisons and jails such as the Louisiana State Prison and Rikers Island Jail. The organization has also transformed a cell into a library at MCI-Norfolk in Massachusetts, the prison where Malcolm X once served time. The libraries are in solitary confinement units and protective custody units and in women’s prisons, men’s prisons, and juvenile detention centers. Since its founding, Freedom Reads has distributed more than 100,000 books to incarcerated readers across 34 states and to more than two dozen prisons and juvenile detention centers. In 2023, the organization will open 150 Freedom Libraries in prisons across 15 states and will have reached a quarter million incarcerated people.


Located in New Haven, Connecticut and supported by foundations and private donors, Freedom Reads currently has a $3 million annual budget and a growing network of full- and part-time staff and consultants. As Freedom Reads embarks on its next phase, it seeks a highly organized, talented, and experienced Chief Operating Officer to help build this unique organization.


For more information on Freedom Reads, please visit




Freedom Reads is currently in a stage of accelerated growth and seeks an experienced organizational leader to serve as its Chief Operating Officer. The COO will play an integral role in shaping and delivering on the strategic goals of the organization. The COO must be well positioned to provide the leadership, management, and discernment necessary to ensure that Freedom Reads has the proper programmatic implementation, operational practices, administrative and reporting procedures, and people systems in place to effectively steer the organization towards operational and programmatic efficiency and financial strength. This is a full-time, in-person role. The COO will reside in Connecticut, preferably within commuting distance of the New Haven offices and fabrication partners.




Reporting to the Founding President and CEO of Freedom Reads, the COO will implement the strategic plan and manage all internal operations, including the following responsibilities:


  • Manage and oversee daily operations.
  • Work closely with the CEO and team to create, roll out, and implement plans for operational processes, internal human resource, finance infrastructures, reporting systems, and organization policies.
  • Collaborate with the CEO in setting and driving organizational vision, operational strategy, and hiring needs.
  • Participate in the development and preparation of short-term and long-range plans and budgets based on organizational objectives and key results.
  • Motivate, collaborate, and establish clear communication with all levels of the organization to guarantee a highly functioning and committed team dedicated to the success of Freedom Reads.
  • Oversee the pilot manufacturing and assembly facility while also executing a plan to scale up through contract fabrication partners.




  • Minimum seven years of progressively responsible experience in an operations leadership role required, including experience growing an organization from “start-up” to significant scale.
  • Commitment to the organization’s mission, values, principles, and practices is required as is demonstrable commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity.
  • Strong analytical and consultative skills, and willingness to understand and adapt to the unique environment of the criminal justice system.
  • Strong project management skills with the ability to administer multiple projects simultaneously, prioritize workload, and effectively manage resources.
  • Record as an effective team member and team builder, with experience managing and directing a minimum of 10 staff members.
  • Collaborative, organized, and detail-oriented leader and manager with relationship management experience, including excellent oral and written communications skills.
  • Nimble, business-like mind focusing on creative solutions with a good eye for streamlining processes and finding efficiencies. Demonstrated track record of effective and prudent decision making.
  • Versatile; a multidisciplinary and multi-constituency perspective with an ability to connect with people of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Understanding of and experience working in systems associated with incarceration and the prison industrial complex is highly desirable.
  • Bachelor’s degree required. Master’s degree in business or finance preferred; education in criminal justice, public policy, education, or related field preferred.
  • Sound judgment, a high level of integrity, professionalism, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor. 




The salary range for this position is $150,000 to $170,000 and based on experience.


Freedom Reads is committed to the principles of justice and tries to build an environment where everyone is treated fairly and enjoys working together. The organization values new perspectives and does its best to make its positions accessible to people of any ethnic background, age, and sexual orientation, as well as women and other underrepresented communities – including communities most impacted by injustice.


Nominations and applications should be submitted to the attention of G. Angela Henry and Paul Spivey at

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