Bay Area Book Festival

Program Director, Bay Area Book Festival

1569 Solano Ave. #635, Berkeley, CA, United States, 94707

Position: Full-Time

As the Bay Area Book Festival plans its fifth anniversary event this May 4-5, 2019, we’re seeking a new Program Director—an exciting, creative, influential, senior position in mounting the annual festival. The Program Director also works with the Executive Director in developing year-round evening literary events. The festival offers fast-paced, flexible, fun work with a tightly knit team. It requires committed self-starters who can collaborate well and are highly responsible. The perfect candidate has extensive experience in the literary industry, ideally in event programming; has deep knowledge of contemporary literature; and is an organizing wizard. Business development or fundraising skills are a plus but not essential.

Below are key responsibilities for the Program Director. We also expect to hire a Program Assistant (separate job posting, seasonal work). A more detailed job description with responsibilities in the areas described below will be shared with top candidates. 

Key Responsibilities

  • Plan an estimated 80 literary programs (keynotes, interviews, panels, performances) with up to 250 speakers (authors plus interviewers and moderators) over the festival weekend in up to 15 different venues in downtown Berkeley:
    • Identify and recruit authors and interviewers/moderators and design the programs in close collaboration with the Executive Director, three Program Associates (international, children/young adult, and community-based), and a Program Steering Committee of local literary leaders
    • Support sponsorship development as it relates to programming
    • Design schedule of all programs across venues and time
    • Orchestrate the smooth functioning of programming over the festival weekend
  • Handle all internal and external programming logistics, managing a seasonal Program Assistant but holding ultimate responsibility for delivering the following work:
    • Develop, manage and maintain a full programming infrastructure using Google Drive system with extensive internal spreadsheets
    • Prepare and manage all communications with publishers and speakers
    • Prepare, manage, and share relevant information internally, such as bios and program descriptions for ticketing, website and San Francisco ChronicleProgram Guide
  • Manage “book provisioning,” ensuring that festival authors’ books are sold at each event
  • Manage festival Green Room, including supervising a coordinator and volunteers
  • Co-create (with Executive Director) approximately 12 standalone author events throughout the year at various Bay Area venues in collaboration with festival partners and Women Lit, the festival’s literary society featuring female authors 

Ideal Candidate Profile

  • Strong experience in literary industries, ideally event programming
  • Extensive knowledge of book publishing, ideally personal relationships with book publicists and publishers nationally and with the Bay Area literary community
  • Intellectual curiosity; well-informed professional able to craft programs on many issues with leading authors/thinkers and to collaborate with experts to help shape those programs
  • Exceptional skill at organizing (organizational wizard who likes such challenges); ability to multi-task; steadiness under pressure
  • Perfectionist orientation; ability to track, record, and thrive amidst thousands of details
  • Excellent, well-demonstrated writing skills
  • Ability to self-start and to work independently, responsible for deliverables but managing the work process as sees fit; aptitude for working from home but on collaborative team
  • Excellent management skills
  • Ability to collaborate productively on a fast-paced, highly professional team; commitment to a shared experience characterized by openness and eagerness to contribute and learn; excellent interpersonal skills with many constituencies 
  • Absolute trustworthiness and ability to adhere to deadlines
  • A plus: Business development skills (working with business staff around programming-related partnerships, sponsorships, and funder proposals) 

The Program Director position requires a year-round commitment, but the time percentage may vary. The job demands intensive full-time work January-May 2019 but may, if desired, be more flexible in other months; for instance the commitment could be only 25% in June-August (or time off completely for some of that period) and 75% time September-December. The position is available immediately part-time, with increased time starting September. If you are qualified and interested, please get in touch to explore options. All festival staff and consultants work from home but collaborate closely and meet regularly in Berkeley.

The team meets every other Tuesday morning in a required Leadership Team meeting. The meetings will start up again on October 2. There are other, subgroup meetings as well.

Position reports to Executive Director. Position begins as independent contractor and would be expected to transition to a staff job with benefits. Compensation is competitive for this industry.

Qualified applicants only; others will not be acknowledged. We strongly encourage candidates of diverse backgrounds to apply, including people of color, LGBTQI+ people, women, and gender nonconforming individuals.

Please email and include “Program Director” in the subject line. In the body of the email, please describe your relevant experience in detail and specific interest in the job. You may address your note to Samee Roberts, Managing Director, and attach a resume or LinkedIn profile. References will be requested later. No phone calls, please.

Please visit to be familiar with the festival when you apply. We expect many applicants and encourage you to inquire quickly if you are qualified and interested.

About Bay Area Book Festival:

The Bay Area Book Festival ( is one of the premier weekend literary festivals in the nation. Over its four years of operation it has featured nearly 1,000 leading writers—Pulitzer Prize winners, best sellers, intellectual and creative pathbreakers from the Bay Area and around the world—in hundreds of programs. Each year the festival thrills audiences of 25,000 people. Filling downtown Berkeley, the festival also presents a large outdoor fair (200 literary exhibitors) and a mini film festival featuring directors and writers. The Bay Area Book Festival has begun to branch into year-round events.


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