Suzanne Nossel

Suzanne Nossel was named Executive Director of the PEN American Center in January, 2013. Her career has spanned government service and leadership roles in the corporate and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining PEN she served as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA where she led a strategic reorientation of the organization to focus on building the next generation of human rights activists, strengthened the organization's financial base, and increased its profile and impact through augmented advocacy, campaigning and media outreach. Her work led to successful passage of the Afghan Women and Girls Security and Promotion Act of 2012, and drew attention to the chilling climate for free expression in Russia through the case of imprisoned punk band Pussy Riot. Before joining Amnesty Nossel served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State, where she was responsible for multilateral human rights, humanitarian affairs, women’s issues, public diplomacy, press, and congressional relations. At the State Department, Nossel played a leading role in U.S. engagement at the U.N. Human Rights Council, including the initiation of groundbreaking human rights resolutions on Iran, Syria, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, freedom of association, freedom of expression, and the first U.N. resolution on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Prior to that, Nossel was Chief Operating Officer for Human Rights Watch, where she was responsible for organizational management and spearheaded a strategic plan for the global expansion of the organization. During the Clinton administration she served as deputy to the ambassador for U.N. Management and Reform at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, where she was the lead U.S. representative to the U.N. General Assembly negotiating a deal to settle the U.S. arrears to the world body. During the early 1990s Nossel worked in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the implementation of South Africa’s National Peace Accord, a multiparty agreement aimed at curbing political violence during that country’s transition to democracy; she has also done election monitoring and human rights documentation in Bosnia and Kosovo. Nossel is the author of a 2004 article in Foreign Affairs magazine entitled "Smart Power" and coined the term that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a defining feature of U.S. foreign policy. In the private sector, she has served as vice-president of U.S. Business Development at Bertelsmann Media Worldwide, vice-president of strategy and operations for the Wall Street Journal and a media and entertainment consultant at McKinsey & Company. Nossel is also an accomplished author who has published hundreds of blog entries, op-ed pieces and numerous scholarly articles. She is the author of Presumed Equal: What America’s Top Women Lawyers Really Think About Their Firms (Career Press, 1998), the founder of the blog, and has served as a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Council on Foreign Relations. Nossel is a regular contributor and commentator on human rights issues for major news outlets including CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.