Executive Director



PEN Canada is looking for a dynamic, innovative, well-connected Executive Director (ED) to serve as PEN Canada’s representative, advocate, and organizational leader based in To-ronto, at a critical moment of growth for the global free-expression organization.

The successful candidate will be highly self-motivated and will enjoy considerable auton-omy in building PEN Canada’s presence and advocacy agenda. The ED will bring entre-preneurial drive, a formidable work ethic, affinity for fast-paced environments, and a te-nacious approach to making PEN Canada even more central to the free-speech debates at a time of significant challenge for free expression around the world. The ED will be a pro-gram and organization builder engaged in advocacy, fundraising, member outreach, and program design with the goal of steadily strengthening PEN Canada.

The ED of PEN Canada is an administrative and activist role that advances the vision, mis-sion, and values of the organization. The position is both chief executive, a role that is one of organizational leadership and administration, and human rights activist, who advances the organization’s fundamental purpose of defending freedom of expression.



Organizational Leadership

  • Build and manage a compelling vision for PEN Canada that is aligned with the strategic plan, determining clear objectives and considerations of the organization’s financial sustainability.
  • Develop the PEN Canada’s advocacy agenda and resource base, media outreach, net-work development, and membership engagement.
  • Identify opportunities to strengthen PEN Canada’s profile in the country in order to grow the office’s scope and scale steadily over time.
  • Engage and support an activist-driven Board of Directors in its work. Ensure the Board operates efficiently, and is supported in its various roles, including fundraising in particular, in order to fulfill the mission.
  • With the support of the Board, create and execute a development plan that will gener-ate adequate revenue for PEN Canada to accomplish its goals and achieve its mission.
  • Create and deliver monthly reports to the Board and, working closely with the content director, summarize key issues and updates to PEN Canada members and supporters.
  • Develop, cultivate, and steward relationships with institutional, corporate, and individ-ual funders, including identifying and securing new funding sources and partnerships.
  • Set priorities for PEN’s engagement with Canada, by identifying gaps in the advocacy landscape and opportunities to bring the organization’s unique assets to bear.
  • Initiate, plan, and lead PEN Canada events and programs in celebration of literature, generating excitement, widespread publicity and engagement whether for a high-profile author or writer living in exile.
  • Engage PEN Canada’s membership of writing professionals, and grow its existing membership base, maintaining an inclusive and responsive culture.
  • Develop and manage the relationship with other PEN centres and PEN International.
  • Manage the communications strategy and awareness plan for PEN Canada, including social media engagement and a web content strategy.

Financial Management

  • Maintain full financial management of the organization and ensure effective and trans-parent accountability to all stakeholders including the Board, funding bodies, company members, and staff.
  • The ED will work closely with the Board Treasurer and Finance Committee to direct the budgeting process, deliver financial results including sufficient funding for the work to be done, and deliver the information to the Board of Directors.
  • Work closely with the controller on bookkeeping, budget monitoring, etc.
  • Manage the auditing process.

External Relations

  • As the public face and voice, the ED is the primary advocate for the organization. 
  • Develop positive working relationships with representatives of the government, media, nonprofits, think tanks, universities, and other important institutions in Canada.
  • Developing and implementing advocacy strategies on a range of free expression issues.
  • Lead the organization’s response to legislative, judicial or policy developments in Can-ada on free expression issues.
  • Increase visibility of the organization across various channels.

Administration and Operations

  • Ensure the effective day-to-day operations of the PEN Canada office.
  • Track program and administrative resources to maximize impact and efficiency.
  • Actively monitor developments on key free expression issues and analyze the political and policy landscape, coordinating consistently with the PEN Canada staff.
  • Manage staff with leadership rigour, imagination, and humour. 
  • Oversee human resources, mentorship and staff development. Establish performing targets and institute a system and culture of stability, collaboration, and transparency.
  • Determine staffing requirements and provide proper resources for professional staff to run the organization.
  • Lead a focused and effective team that delivers programs with member and volunteer engagement and partnership.
  • Maintain a high standard of performance, ethics, and initiative to which all permanent and contract staff, Board, and volunteers will be held.


  • Exceptional leadership and management skills at both strategic and operational levels.
  • A minimum of 5–7 years of progressively responsible experience in public advocacy, preferably relating to free expression, civil liberties, international affairs, and/or human rights.
  • Experience inside government or in dealing with government bodies/political savvy.
  • Experience in association management related to servicing members and/or the non-profit sector.
  • Strong business acumen with a proven track record as a business leader. 
  • Knowledge of human rights and familiarity with current and pressing issues around free expression in Canada and internationally.
  • A strong network of relevant contacts.
  • A track record of effective fundraising and constituency building.
  • Experience with budget development and financial planning.
  • Proven ability to raise the visibility of the organization, develop projects and partnerships.
  • Experience in press outreach, campaigning, and digital and social media.
  • Record of working successfully with volunteers, boards or committees, and staff as a team, implementing the stated goals and strategic plans of an association.
  • Demonstrated experience in managing people and budgets; ability to work in a hands-on, small office environment.
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills; able to speak articulately and persuasively.
  • An interest in the world of literary writers, journalism, and artistic expression.
  • An undergraduate degree, or experiential equivalent in human rights, media, commu-nications, or relevant background.
  • Fluency in French (spoken/understanding) is an important asset.


  • A strategic, visionary thinker who can put plans into action; a catalyst who can create energy and excitement around PEN Canada’s mission and encourage others to support the organization.
  • A versatile, skilled, and effective communicator with the ability to articulate the trans-formative power and impact of PEN Canada in the world of literature and free expression.
  • Inspires organization members to share common vision and goals.
  • An inclusive leader who encourages contributions from all levels of the organization and Board. 
  • Accountable with a strong sense of professionalism, ethics and integrity.
  • Diplomatic; a collaborative team player.
  • Works well independently and is self-regulating.
  • Ability to build trust and engender confidence internally and externally.
  • Service-oriented with the understanding of the needs of a membership. 
  • An innovator with a high level of energy and tested entrepreneurial spirit.
  • At ease with today’s technology, digital and social media environment.
  • Ability to multi-task and keep varied projects progressing
  • Strong interest in Canadian and international issues.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills necessary to build relationships.
  • Able to engage in rapid response to political and policy developments



PEN Canada offers competitive compensation and benefits, commensurate with experience.



Please submit your application by emailing your cover letter and résumé no later than May 18th, 2018, to: PEN@searchlightcanada.com.

We thank applicants for their interest, however, only those advancing in the pro-cess will be contacted.

PEN Canada is an equal-opportunity employer