City of Asylum

Opportunities for employment at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh are posted here regularly.


Open Positions


Executive Director

As City of Asylum’s Executive Director, you will be leading an organization that our peers have deemed “the model for the world…expanding the idea of what is possible.”  You will be the person who energizes and inspires our stakeholders.

City of Asylum creates a thriving community by protecting, celebrating, and building on creative free expression.  We provide sanctuary to endangered literary writers, so that the writers can continue to write and their voices are not silenced.  And we offer a broad range of free literary, arts, and humanities programs in a community setting to build social equity through cultural exchange. We anchor neighborhood economic development by transforming blighted properties into homes for our programs.

The cumulative effect of attendance on audience–hearing multiple stories and being able to ask and hear questions from others–is what we believe creates the empathy that is a precondition for change and reduces inequality, whether rooted in race, class, gender, ability, or ethnicity. We measure outcomes to support this social concern.

Our annual operating budget is currently $1.4 million. We have 12 full-time employees, 3 part-time employees, 13 board members, a national advisory board of artists, and many volunteers. Approximately 40% of our income is contributed, with the balance foundation and government grants.  We also operate commercial subsidiaries. 

We have re-developed over $12.5 million of property, beginning with 6 row houses used as residences for our programs and culminating in January 2017 with redevelopment of the long-abandoned Masonic Building–a $10.7 mixed use project that the Urban Redevelopment Authority called the “most deeply fundamental” project in Pittsburgh to its goals. It includes 8 rental units (2 below market rate) and Alphabet City, our home. 

Alphabet City has spaces for performances and workshops, our offices, a bookstore (with 10,000 new books and used books) and a destination quality restaurant, Brugge on North (revenues exceed $1 million/yr). The project won the Urban Land Institute’s Award for Excellence, Best Community Place.

We do important work locally, nationally, and globally.  Founded in the fall of 2004, we have now had visiting artists from over 80+ countries.  Our neighbors credit us with breaking down barriers of race, gender, and class in our community. We have been awarded significant grants for our creative placemaking from several national foundations, ArtPlace America, and the NEA and for social entrepreneurship.


Key programs

  • Our core program is our Writer Sanctuary Program.  It provides writers (and their families) exiled under threat of persecution with long term financial and social assistance, including a rent-free furnished house. 
  • We present over 170 free programs per year in Alphabet City:  Readings, jazz, films, and our annual Jazz Poetry Month.Web sites:  cityofasylum.org  / alphabetcity.org

Job Vision:  

The Executive Director is a passionate advocate for creative free expression, culturally adept, comfortable in public, expansive in vision, and a committed, roll-up-the-sleeves pragmatic leader pragmatic leader able to guide our Directors in turning vision into reality.

Job Description, Executive Director

City of Asylum’s range of activities is unusually diverse and complex for an organization of our size, including our writer residency program, creative placemaking, arts and humanities presenting, commercial subsidiaries, and property development and management.  The Executive Director of City of Asylum will be transitioning leadership from the co-founders, who have directed the organization since 2004 and will work with them to develop the plan for a successful transition. The Executive Director will cultivate relationships with media, grantors, foundations, corporations, and individuals to raise funds and promote our organization locally and nationally. Our constituents include partner organizations and people from many socio-economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, and the Executive Director must be welcoming and able to work productively with all.


Leadership, Vision, and Management

  • Assures City of Asylum imaginatively achieves our mission and maintains our values, which are rooted in hospitality and creative freedom. 
  • Assures that City of Asylum refreshes and achieves the goals in our strategic plan and our multi-year business/capitalization plan 
  • Monitors and evaluates the outcomes and impact of our activities and make improvements or changes as necessary. 
  • Leads and manages staff:  Direct reports include directors of strategic external relations, operations and finance, programs and marketing. 
  • Builds strategic alliances. 
  • Grows and supports a high-performing and passionate Board of Directors. 
  • Is opportunistic, meets commitments, and comfortable with a fast pace.

Revenue Generation and Community Relations

  • Leads us in raising contributed revenue for the organization to meet annual budget and in growing our working capital and reserves. 
  • Builds ongoing relationships with philanthropic foundations, individual donors and corporate sponsors, community and cultural organizations, and political leaders. 
  • Conceptualizes grant proposals and works with grant writers to assure quality finished proposals. 
  • Is imaginative in using our assets to grow earned income. 
  • Is our primary media contact and represents us to the public.

Program Management

(We have Directors for each of our key programming areas.  It is not expected that the Executive Director have expertise in all.)

  • Assures our residency and presenting programs are best-in-class and serve as national and international models. 
  • Assures the health, safety, legal status, and outcomes for writers in our residency programs. 
  • Assures that our audiences are representative of the entire community and that our programs increase empathy and understanding. 
  • Uses technology to integrate global partners into our programs, to remove barriers of distance, language, and cost. 
  • Is known to our audiences as the leading advocate of our values and mission.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities   

  • A demonstrable record of success in key responsibilities (min 5 years). 
  • Knowledge of budgeting and financial reporting. 
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator who can inspire one-on-one and in public speaking. 
  • Pluses:  multi-lingual, international experience, experience in minority communities, and participation in creative networks.

This position offers superior compensation and a traditional benefits package found with other nonprofit organizations of similar size, scope, and scale. 

How to Apply
Please send resume and cover letter explaining why you feel you will be successful in the position to ED@cityofasylumpittsburgh.org. No phone calls. We are committed to diversity and support of artists. Applications and inquiries will be treated confidentially.

Non-discrimination Policy
City of Asylum Pittsburgh is committed to results-oriented management aimed at achieving equal employment opportunity and shall apply good faith efforts to seek out, employ, train, and promote women and minority group members. 




Internship Program 2019
Applications now open for fall Internships! Please check back for winter opportunities.

City of Asylum seeks interns to assist the current program coordinators, supervisors and administrative staff. Once hired, interns assist in organizing weekly events, including administration, ticketing, volunteer facilitation, event set­-up and other event preparation logistics. The internship is unpaid, but will be eligible for college course credit. Applicants are interviewed and hired on a rolling basis (specific start/end dates are flexible).


The ideal candidate is organized, well-spoken, and works well with people in our community of all ages, backgrounds, and organizations. Interns should be detail-oriented, and flexible about shifting priorities. The position includes event facilitation and administrative tasks on an as-needed basis. Our office environment is small and informal, but fast paced. A successful intern is someone who is independent and confident in their work. They must be willing to take on and learn new things.

Skills Required:

  • Excellent verbal, written and communication skills
  • Exceptional organizational and time management skills
  • Child abuse history clearances (COA will send required forms and reimburse costs)
  • Ability to handle deadlines and fast-paced situations
  • Comfortable lifting anywhere from 5 to 20 lbs.
  • Knowledge of WordPress, Mailchimp, SurveyMonkey, Patron Manager a plus
  • Microsoft Suite, Google Drive, Social Media skills a big plus
  • Background in performing arts and event planning a plus
  • Patron Manager/Salesforce experience preferred
  • Driver’s license and a good driving record preferred

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Assist COA staff with logistics of events at Alphabet City
  • Coordinate and manage some aspects of events
  • Assist with administrative, programming, and clerical tasks
  • Assist with tech and audio/visual aspects of the events
  • Assist in the writing of COA invitations, news, creating content, marketing materials, editing, and drafting emails
  • Transcribe interviews or give interviews on a special-request basis
  • Complete simple Patron Manager tasks (on-site training will be provided by administrators)
  • Occasionally work with COA’s writers-in-residence on an as-needed basis
  • Interns are encouraged to pitch their own long-term projects that reflect COA’s mission, and possibly create programming, develop partnerships, or do research
  • Help the volunteer supervisor to organize data, schedule, scout, train, and communicate with volunteers

Other Requirements:

  • Current sophomore, junior, senior or recent college graduate preferred
    • Minimum age requirement is 18 years of age
  • Applicants are interviewed and hired on a rolling basis (specific start/end dates are flexible)
    • Summer: May- August
    • Fall: September- December
    • Spring: January- April
  • 15­-20 hours per week (some evening hours required; most events take place in the evenings and occasionally on weekends)
  • Interns will be asked to sign a contract of confidentiality due to the sensitive nature of the information of our patrons and performers

To be considered for an internship, please attach a current resume and cover letter detailing your interests in our programming, relevant experiences, and your qualifications in an email to ​Senior Project Manager and Volunteer/Intern Coordinator Karla Lamb at klamb@cityofasylumpittsburgh.org



Non-discrimination Policy: City of Asylum is committed to results-oriented management aimed at achieving equal employment opportunity and shall apply good faith efforts to seek out, employ, train, and promote underutilized women and minority group members.

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