January 10, 2020

Program Officer, Policy Reform

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
January 10, 2020
Philadelphia, United States
Job Type


This position will be based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

About FIRE

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on our nation’s college campuses. Please visit thefire.org to gain a sense of our work and mission.

Position Description

The Program Officer, Policy Reform will report to FIRE’s Vice President of Policy Reform and assist the Senior Program Officers, Policy Reform with the program’s core objectives. These include working with university students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni to revise campus speech codes and to adopt institutional policy statements on freedom of expression. The position will involve advancing these objectives in a number of ways, including, but not limited to:

  • Communicating and collaborating with university students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni to revise campus speech codes restricting student and faculty expression;
  • Writing letters to colleges and universities to explain the First Amendment issues raised by campus speech codes and to detail how the policies can be improved to protect free speech rights;
  • Communicating and collaborating with university students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni toward institutional adoption of policy statements modeled after the University of Chicago’s “Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression” (better known as the “Chicago Statement”);
  • Writing letters to colleges and universities to advocate for adoption of the Chicago Statement;
  • Engaging in outreach to university alumni to build support for campus-specific campaigns at their alma maters, aimed at reforming institutional policy and improving the overall climate for free expression;
  • Engaging in specialized, targeted outreach to prominent university alumni, and maintaining a cohesive network of alumni who are interested in and concerned for free speech in higher education and supportive of FIRE’s mission;
  • Reviewing and editing letters and memoranda written by attorneys in the Policy Reform program;
  • Speaking with reporters, including student journalists, about campus policy-specific issues and more general matters of free speech in higher education.

In addition to the responsibilities related to the Policy Reform program, the position will contribute to FIRE’s advocacy in a number of respects, including, but not limited to:

  • Writing articles for FIRE’s Newsdesk regarding the organization’s speech code advocacy, case work, and legal topics related to FIRE’s mission;
  • Reviewing and editing Newsdesk articles written by staff members prior to publication;
  • Reviewing letters written by FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program (IRDP) in cases involving the rights of students and faculty members;
  • Attending higher education conferences on behalf of FIRE in order to educate students about the organization’s mission and work.

The hours for this position are customary business hours. Work on weekends and evenings is envisioned to be minimal but may be necessary from time to time.

The expected start date for this position will be spring 2020.


A successful candidate must demonstrate a knowledge and passion for FIRE’s mission and an ability to articulate that passion in a way that will make others enthusiastic about our cause. A candidate must also be able to demonstrate:

  • Demonstrated commitment to FIRE’s mission;
  • Superior written and oral communication skills;
  • Strong legal writing and copy-editing skills and familiarity with legal citation formats;
  • Excellent research and organizational skills;
  • Ability to proficiently use the Internet as a research tool, including specialized research tools such as LexisNexis or Westlaw;
  • Ability to work independently;
  • Attention to detail and accuracy.

Candidates must be a graduate of an ABA accredited law school and a member of the bar of at least one state.

Salary and Compensation

Starting salary is negotiable and depends upon experience and education level. FIRE conducts periodic evaluations where employees may receive raises or bonuses for outstanding work. FIRE also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes employer-paid comprehensive health, dental, and life insurance, a Section 125 Flexible Spending Account option, matching retirement contributions, and a generous paid time off plan.


Applicants should provide a resume, cover letter, writing sample, salary requirements, and contact information for at least two professional references. All applications are confidential. Please address applications to Peyton Cudaback, Director of Human Resources. Applications can be emailed to [email protected].

FIRE is an equal opportunity employer.

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