Program Manager, Free Press/Future Leaders

Department: Content
Reports to: Free Press Managing Director
Status: Full-time Regular
FLSA: Exempt
Prepared: August 2022

Summary and Objective

The Future Leaders Program Manager will oversee all aspects of the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference and develop opportunities for these high school students and alumni to participate in the Freedom Forum’s journalism programs and other free press initiatives.

The Free Spirit program, established in 1999 by Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth, focuses on inspiring and encouraging rising high school seniors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia to become involved in journalism. Students are selected because they demonstrate an interest in the media and have the qualities of a free spirit.

You will be instrumental in reimagining the conference and developing innovative ways to assist these students as they enter college and possibly pursue journalism careers. Engaging the 1,500+ alumni in Freedom Forum journalism programs is a priority. We want all Free Spirits to be ambassadors for the First Amendment and its five freedoms, long after they take part in the conference and graduate from high school.

Under the leadership of the Free Press Managing Director, you will be a part of a team that includes program managers responsible for training, mentoring and other activities geared toward early career journalists and those aimed at improving newsroom culture. The team collectively is building an ecosystem that helps people at all levels create better journalism in a healthy environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.

Essential Functions/Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Planning and producing the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. This includes overseeing all conference logistics and content development.
  • Managing the Free Spirit alumni network, tracking the achievements of former scholars and finding new ways to engage alumni in mentoring and other activities.
  • Developing analytics to evaluate the conference, with an eye toward building on strengths and innovating as the industry evolves. These metrics and other feedback will help guide the team to improve the conference and other activities geared toward students and early career journalists.
  • Developing and executing a social media strategy for recruitment of conference participants, marketing and promotion, and audience engagement.
  • Reaching out to high schools, journalism education programs and educators, and affinity groups in the news industry to ensure a deep pool of applicants.
  • Promoting the conference and related Free Spirit activities, working with other Freedom Forum teams.
  • Working with other Freedom Forum teams to create and compile event materials, email communications and other needs for the conference and related activities.
  • Writing a newsletter for the Free Spirit alumni network and contributing to other Freedom Forum communications about this and other free press initiatives.
  • Reporting and writing as requested articles, editorials, website explainers and other material to engage young journalists.
  • Participating in annual scholastic or journalism conferences when deemed appropriate. Some travel is required.


  • A bachelor’s degree or at least five years of experience in journalism, the training of journalists and/or program management. An understanding and appreciation for the challenges facing students and early career journalists is required.
  • Demonstrated ability in managing programs and achieving programmatic objectives.
  • Experience in working with vendors, hotels, contractors and caterers in staging conferences and events is helpful and strongly desired.
  • Strong writing and editing skills.
  • Strong knowledge of how to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok and other social media platforms to reach target audiences. You can use these platforms effectively and you keep up with new means of communication for younger people.
  • Proven ability in building and sustaining a community or network.
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills.
  • Experience and comfort with public speaking and moderating programs.
  • A can-do mentality and obsession for solutions. You identify opportunities and potential problems, and you address them efficiently.

Application Process

Please email your application as a single PDF, titled lastnamefirstname (example: JonesJane.pdf) to [email protected] with a cover letter, resume and three references. In your cover letter, please describe how you would encourage high school students to pursue a career in journalism.

Diversity and Inclusion Statement: Our Unique Differences Are Our Greatest Strength

Diversity is an integral part of the Freedom Forum’s history ̶ and it is vital to our future. Our founder, Al Neuharth, championed the hiring and promotion of women and minorities across the country as chair and CEO of Gannett. His legacy lives on at the Freedom Forum, where we are committed to creating an environment where everyone across race, gender, age, sexual orientation, sexual identity, religion, physical ability and life experience is respected, valued, encouraged and supported. Diversity fuels inclusion. Everyone offers a unique perspective; we welcome yours.

The Freedom Forum is committed to an ethical workplace, and our code of ethics reflects this commitment by promoting integrity, innovation, inclusivity, collaboration, accountability, respect and engagement. Competitive benefits include health, dental, vision and life insurance, as well as paid time off and a 401(k) Plan.

The Freedom Forum is an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, pregnancy, age, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by law.