Staffing Update: Administrative Support in the Office

General Secretary

The following updates have been published to share further information about staffing changes:

Two staffing changes will take effect on Monday, May 8th. The first is that Marille Thomas will assume the position of Office Manager, a full time position. The second is that Cierra Saunders will assume the role of Executive Assistant, a 60% time position.

In March changes in staff support for the work of the yearly meeting were shared. Those changes included decreasing the position of Executive Assistant to 60% and focusing that position’s work entirely on the administrative needs of the General Secretary. The change also moved support for the administrative needs of the PYM office and the governance structure from the direct supervision of the General Secretary into to the larger office. These changes redistribute administrative support for the work of PYM to align more closely with where the need for support is generated.

Friends and meetings in PYM have communicated concern about this change because of the negative way in which it impacts the person in the position of Executive Assistant to the General Secretary, Marille Thomas. Marille is a person of color who has been courageous in speaking out against racism. It was never the intent to silence her voice or to retaliate, and her performance was never in question. A generous severance package was offered that deliberately did not include a confidentiality or silencing clause for these reasons. However, regardless of the intent, the impact was that a person of color who is vocal about racism received a reduction in hours and pay. The General Secretary, PYM leadership and the Administrative Council listened to concerns raised by our members on this and other subjects. Their full response can be read online but two relevant phrases are extracted here:

  • We… learned that, if we are to be faithful to our corporate witness of ending racism and white supremacy within PYM… we cannot make staffing decisions that negatively impact people of color without ameliorating that impact to the best of our ability.
  • [The] Administrative Council has become more closely involved in understanding not just the goals and costs but the details of structural changes in staffing, the reasoning, the outcomes and the impacts. [The Council] began this immediately in a called meeting where it reviewed extensively the details of the change in administrative support … The Council received, threshed and approved a plan that would allow the Executive Assistant to continue working for PYM in a position that is full time and at her current hourly rate and benefits.

On May 8th Marille will move from the Executive Assistant position to a full-time Office Manager position. This is a lateral move with no decrease in pay rate or benefits. The position was not in the original plan, which instead provided for a 60% time office administrator plus the flexibility to increase those hours at busy times of year, such as prior to Sessions. The original plan was adjusted to the fulltime Office Manager position to fully ameliorate the financial impact on Marille and because we believe there is plenty of challenging and important work to be done in this position to help strengthen PYM. The effect of this change on our budget can be absorbed. Also on May 8th Cierra Saunders will move from the Office Assistant position to the Executive Assistant position. Both of these positions are 60% time so there will be no impact on hours or benefits for Cierra.

Questions can be addressed to Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary, at 215-241-7210 or cduncan-tessmer@pym.org.