Awards and Literary Programs Director

Apr 23, 2022 | Work at PEN/Faulkner

Status: Full-time with a flexible schedule 

Compensation: $52,000/year 

Benefits: 403(b) plan with automatic 5% employer contribution (no match required); subsidized individual health,  dental, and vision; generous PTO and paid holidays, including a winter break 

Location: At present, PEN/Faulkner does not maintain an in-person office, so most work is performed remotely.  Given that we expect in-person events to resume, however, the position is based in Washington, DC,  and candidates will be expected to be present in-person, as much as health and safety conditions allow,  when necessary. Candidates must have reliable home internet access. 


The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is seeking an Awards and Literary Programs Director to work in close  partnership with its Executive Director and board in two primary areas: managing our evolving literary  events programs and administering our three awards programs. 

Your Background 

This position might be right for you if: 

  • You are an avid reader who is passionate about literature
  • You have experience planning literary events
  • You are generally familiar with publishing and non-profits
  • You are a comfortable and confident public speaker
  • You are highly organized and love paying attention to details
  • You are a proactive planner with the ability to schedule months in advance
  • You are adept at managing last-minute changes
  • You know how to be both a thought partner and a thought leader
  • You are an excellent communicator, both verbal and written
  • You are excited to join a small team where you can have a big impact

About PEN/Faulkner 

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is a nonprofit organization that celebrates literature and fosters  connections between readers and writers to enrich and inspire individuals and communities. In fulfilling  that mission, PEN/Faulkner administers education programs that bring donated books, visits from  authors, and writing instruction into low-income DC schools; hosts public literary programs that create  opportunities for conversation between writers and readers; and recognizes significant literary  achievements nationwide by giving out the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the PEN/Malamud  Award for Excellence in the Short Story, as well as by selecting a PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion. 

Our Awards 

For more than 40 years, PEN/Faulkner has given out the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the  commendation for which the organization is named. The Award is adjudicated by a panel of three judges  selected by the organization’s board, and it culminates in an annual Award Celebration in May. The  Awards and Literary Programs Director is responsible for facilitating the award election process and  participating in Award Celebration planning. 

In 2020, PEN/Faulkner began recognizing an annual PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion. The first two  recipients have been LeVar Burton and Oprah Winfrey. That commendation is also part of the annual  PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration. The Awards and Literary Programs Director is responsible for  supporting the selection process and publicizing the award. 

Finally, for more than 25 years, we have been giving out the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the  Short Story. The recipient of that award is selected by a committee of PEN/Faulkner board members,  with help from a national advisory committee. The Award is conferred every December in a public  PEN/Malamud Award Ceremony that has recently been held in partnership with American University.  The Awards and Literary Programs Director is responsible for supporting that committee and planning  the Award Ceremony. 

Our Literary Events 

At present, PEN/Faulkner’s literary events are centered around one signature program: Literary  Conversations, which typically brings together authors who have all written about a shared theme to  engage in moderated conversation with each other and with the PEN/Faulkner audience. (One annual  Literary Conversations series focuses on books that have been adapted for the screen.) The Awards and  Literary Programs Director is responsible for managing those events.

We have also begun experimenting with two additional virtual event formats: Deep Dives, which are  small group conversations with authors about books they love, and a Salon Series that consists of small  group conversations with noted authors. Those events may or may not continue moving forward. The  Awards and Literary Programs Director will be responsible for managing the literary components of  these events as well, if the initial experiments continue. 

In addition, we maintain a long-running Founding Friends program that consists of private luncheons  with authors. At present, Founding Friends is primarily a fundraising effort, but that may change. To  whatever extent proves to be appropriate, the Awards and Literary Programs Director may provide  literary support for that program as well. 

Finally, in 2022, the PEN/Faulkner board will begin a strategic planning process for the organization. That  process may result in an intention to diversify its literary event offerings. Our Awards and Literary  Programs Director will be responsible for implementing any new strategic decisions. 

Detailed Responsibilities 

Responsibilities for this position include the following: 

Event Planning and Logistics 

  • Facilitating the process of establishing Literary Conversation themes (in collaboration with the Executive Director and the board’s Literary Programs Committee)
  • Contributing to the development of new literary event concepts
  • Establishing and maintaining an annual events calendar
  • Arranging author travel as needed
  • Venue identification and rental negotiations
  • Collaboration with bookstore partners
  • Working with event livestream and A/V partners
  • Maintaining and communicating a “run of show” for all events and awards programs

Author Relations 

  • Author outreach to solicit program participation
  • Supporting Awards judges in their deliberation process
  • Discreet communication with winners and finalists

Publisher Relations 

  • Gathering resources (bios/headshots/book cover images, review copies/galleys)
  • Communicating award submission guidelines

Press Relations 

  • Maintaining a press list
  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Answering press inquiries

Audience Relations 

  • Conducting and analyzing post-event surveys
  • Exploring and implementing new ideas for audience engagement
  • Introducing some events on screen and in person

Sales and Marketing 

  • Establishing ticket prices and packages in collaboration with the Executive Director
  • Setting and hitting revenue targets
  • Managing ticketing platform (EventBrite)
  • Co-creating event marketing plans with the Executive Director and Marketing Coordinator
  • Finding and managing graphic design partners
  • Writing event descriptions and marketing copy


  • Participating as needed in grant proposal development and reporting 
  • Preparing reports on event metrics: registrations, attendance, post-event surveys, social media  engagement, audience feedback, author feedback 
  • Collaborating with Literary Programs, Awards, and Malamud Award Committees 

Required Qualifications 

Qualified candidates for this position will demonstrate the following: 

  • At least three years of literary event planning experience 
  • General knowledge of the landscape of contemporary writing, particularly fiction
  • Familiarity with the publishing and non-profit industries 
  • Excellent written communication 
  • Proficiency with MS Office and Google Suite applications 
  • Experience with Zoom and Zoom webinar event management 
  • Flexibility in a fast-paced work environment 
  • Ability to learn from (and own) failures/setbacks

Additional Qualifications 

The ideal candidate for this position may also have experience with some of the following:

  • Awards program experience 
  • Knowledge of EventBrite or similar ticketing software 

Application Instructions 

Send a cover letter and resume to [email protected] with “Awards and Literary Programs  Director” in the subject line. Tell us your story. Why do you imagine yourself in this role? What do you  have to contribute? What inspires you? 

Please note: the PEN/Faulkner Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate  against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual identity, national origin, age, disability, or  genetic information.

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