Program Officer, Individual Rights Defense Program and Public Records

This position will be based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when the pandemic subsides.  

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 will assist with the day to day operations of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program (IRDP) and work closely with the department’s Director and staff in addition to focusing on public records and freedom of information research and requests to augment the department’s work. The duties for this position include but are not limited to:

  • Author, file, and track freedom of information act requests;
  • Evaluate production and prepare appeals, memoranda, or letters concerning disputes over FOIA productions or denials;
  • Assist in devising large-scale FOIA projects, collating data, and authoring reports on findings;
  • Maintain FIRE’s internal FOIA generator and prepare a step-by-step guide on its use;
  • Review, respond to, and manage individual case submissions from students, student organizations, and faculty members and provide input on future action/referral;
  • Collect documentation and review relevant university materials and policies to construct narratives of incidents of First Amendment, due process, or other rights being violated; 
  • Author and review letters to universities and accrediting agencies on behalf of students, student organizations, and faculty;
  • Help coordinate strategy among internal departments for cases and serve as primary press contact on designated cases, including conducting interviews for television, radio, and print media;
  • Identify candidates for litigation in coordination with FIRE’s IRDP and litigation departments.

The Program Officer will also write blog entries for FIRE’s website, contribute articles and columns to outside publications, contribute features to FIRE newsletters and other publications as assigned, and attend conferences on behalf of the organization. 

This position involves a moderate amount of travel. Occasional work on weekends and evenings should be expected.

The expected start date for this position is as soon as possible.

Qualifications

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:

  • Familiarity with general First Amendment law and principles;
  • Familiarity either with FOIA/state public records laws or with principles of written discovery, privileges, and document review;
  • Familiarity with general principles underlying university conduct codes and administrative structure of universities;
  • Strong research, writing, and public speaking abilities;
  • Strong attention to detail and organizational skills.

Candidates must have an undergraduate or advanced degree from an accredited college, university, or ABA accredited law school. Candidates that possess a JD and are not already a member of the Pennsylvania bar must be willing to obtain licensure in Pennsylvania. Candidates without a JD must have demonstrated experience in First Amendment advocacy work.   

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 and excellent work. FIRE also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes employer-paid health, dental, and life insurance; a Section 125 Flexible Spending Account option; matching retirement contributions; and a generous paid time-off plan.

Applications

Applicants should provide a resume, cover letter, a 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 hr@thefire.org.

FIRE is an equal opportunity employer.