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
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
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 https://freedomreads.org/
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
ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND
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
- 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
QUALIFICATIONS, SKILLS, AND KNOWLEDGE
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 FreedomReads@Phillipsoppenheim.com.