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Research and Advocacy Lead, China

Research and Advocacy Lead, China
Organization: PEN America
Location: Washington, DC/New York, NY
Date Posted: 10/30/2023

PEN America Job Opening: Research and Advocacy Lead

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks an experienced human rights practitioner to spearhead research and advocacy on China and free expression in our PEN/Barbey Freedom To Write Center. This is a full-time position based at PEN America’s New York City headquarters or Washington, D.C. office, reporting to the Director of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Center.


  1. Identify opportunities for and carry out research on threats free expression within China and committed by the Chinese government beyond its borders.
  2. Produce a regular cadence of written products, including reports, briefing papers, press statements, op-eds, and submissions to international bodies on issues related to China and free expression.
  3. Work closely with the PEN/Barbey Freedom To Write Center’s writers at risk team to identify and monitor cases of individual writers and public intellectuals at risk in China and contribute to the annual Freedom To Write Index.
  4. Coordinate and collaborate with PEN America’s Washington advocacy, Research, and Communications teams on relevant advocacy and research initiatives, and with other parts of the Free Expression Programs department as appropriate.
  5. Follow key developments and trends on free speech and expression in China and key countries where China’s influence undermines free speech and expression; identify opportunities for advocacy or research.
  6. Cultivate and maintain relationships with a wide variety of organizations and individuals.


  • A minimum of four to six years of relevant experience, including in international human rights, advocacy, media, and/or research.
  • Demonstrated expertise on China; proven experience undertaking research and advocacy on China.
  • Demonstrated understanding of international human rights with reference to freedom of expression in particular; understanding of international human rights law preferred.
  • Familiarity with Chinese cultural and/or literary communities a plus.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop strategic advocacy efforts, network, build external relationships, and mobilize coalitions.
  • Excellent research and writing capabilities.
  • Ability to represent PEN America and to communicate concerns, positions, and, where relevant, strategies to external and internal stakeholders.
  • Ability to work quickly, meet deadlines, and work under pressure.
  • Experience using social media or other communications tools for professional purposes a plus.
  • Excellent written and spoken Mandarin or Cantonese.
  • Willingness to travel, as required and appropriate, to conduct research and advocacy.
  • Commitment to and strong understanding of PEN America’s mission, centered on the celebration and defense of free expression, including the defense of speech reflecting a wide range of political opinions and ideologies, regardless of personal views.

Salary and Benefits:

PEN America offers competitive compensation and full benefits. The salary range for this position is $90-103k commensurate with experience. Candidates whose expectations are outside this range are welcome to apply, as PEN America is open to considering talented individuals at varying stages of their careers. PEN America’s benefits package includes medical, dental, and vision health insurance, paid time off, 10 paid holidays, pre-tax commuter benefits, and a 403b retirement plan.

How to Apply:

Please submit a cover letter and resume and the contact information for three references. Submit the entire application to Please use “China Lead” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “China Lead – Jane Doe”). Only complete applications will be reviewed, and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

About PEN America:

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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