PEN America

PEN America (formerly PEN American Center), founded in 1922[3] and headquartered in New York City, is a nonprofit organization that works to defend and celebrate free expression in the United States and worldwide through the advancement of literature and human rights. PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 PEN centers worldwide that together compose PEN International.[4] PEN America has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

PEN America
TypeLiterary society, human rights organization[1]
Legal statusNonprofit Organization
PurposePublication, advocacy, literary awards[1]
HeadquartersNew York, New York, US
  • New York City, U.S.
Coordinates40.724920°N 73.997163°W / 40.724920; -73.997163
Region served
Eastern Half of USA
Official language
Ayad Akhtar[2]
Key people
Board of Trustees[1]
Parent organization
PEN International
AffiliationsInternational Freedom of Expression Exchange

PEN America's advocacy includes work on press freedom and the safety of journalists, campus free speech, online harassment, artistic freedom, and support to regions of the world with challenges to freedom of expression.[5] PEN America also campaigns for individual writers and journalists who have been imprisoned or come under threat for their work, and annually presents the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.[6]

PEN America hosts public programming and events on literature and human rights, including the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature and the annual PEN America Literary Awards.[7] PEN America also works to amplify underrepresented voices, including emerging authors and writers who are undocumented, incarcerated, or face obstacles in reaching audiences.[8]

As of June 2022, PEN America staff announced their intention to unionize. Los Angeles Times reports that workers unionized with Unit of Work, a venture capitalist startup to help workers unionize. Reportedly, PEN America recognized the union the day after it was announced.[9]

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