Administrative Support: Staff Changes Follow Up Information

General Secretary

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

Following on the recent announcement about upcoming changes to our staffing structure, this post provides further information and clarity with respect to administrative support. The changes provide more focus and capacity for the administrative functions supporting the general needs of the office, the data-entry function for the database, scheduling and administrative support for Arch Street Meeting House, and supporting the General Secretary.

During the last several General Secretary searches, there has been a concern about the need for balance between internal attention to the staff and focusing on outward relationships.  The primary feedback for change to me in my last annual evaluation echoed this concern by asking me to find ways to release the daily internal business as much as possible. Shifting the care of the office administrative functions out of the General Secretary’s purview is one way of responding to this stated and experienced need. I’ve previously enacted similar changes, such as empowering Associate Secretaries to have a significant role in the Quaker Life and Administrative Councils.

To separate and focus administrative support on the needs of the office from the needs of the General Secretary, I moved the Office Assistant position to be under the Director of Staffing and Inclusion.   This will enable a consistent focus on making sure employee’s needs are met at all stages of their employment, and staff will benefit from having someone directly responsible for this.  For example, the process of onboarding a new staff person will be simpler.  When someone starts working at PYM they need a desk, a computer, email address, keys, business cards, and a mailbox. Currently those are managed by multiple people and sometimes, in the spirit of wanting to help, the same thing is addressed by more than one person. The new model streamlines and defines that work.  The plan also includes some additional funding available to flex up administrative support staffing when needed at busy times, like prior to sessions.

The other side of shifting office management work out of the General Secretary’s purview is that the remaining administrative support is entirely focused on the needs of the General Secretary. There are no competing factors that the assistant or I need to weigh or juggle.  Within the reasonable limits of 21 hours in a week, all of the available support goes toward the General Secretary’s calendaring, managing email, prioritizing, and communicating. This will increase the capacity of support for the General Secretary, as well as decrease the possibility that support for her will detract from support for the rest of the office.

While the functional changes serve the office well, I acknowledge that this plan is one that significantly and negatively impacts the person in the position of Executive Assistant to the General Secretary, because the position decreases from 100% to 60%, and no longer has another position reporting to it.  Marille Thomas has served in this position for my full tenure as General Secretary and has managed the daily needs of the office, hiring and supervising a new office assistant position, and in taking care of the needs of my office. The change is not reflective of or a comment on her ability in this role. We offered the option of a generous package, without a confidentiality clause, to Marille to bridge her work to find another full time position as an option.  

Additional administrative changes include a part-time data-entry position, which will provide daily maintenance for gift-entry and acknowledgement, data changes, and generating basic reports.  The position will report to the Database Manager and will increase the capacity of this position by relieving the Database Manager of those tasks.  

The final change is the addition of a part-time administrative assistant position for Arch Street Meeting House, which will assist with scheduling, responding to communications, and other basic needs.  That assistance will bring the capacity of the program and management positions at Arch Street to a more manageable level.  The funding support for the Arch Street position is only through this fiscal year, as other means for paying for that position will become available through the Arch Street Meeting House Preservation Trust in the new fiscal year.  The need is significant enough that I want to relieve the current staff immediately and for the remaining six months of the year.

Christie Duncan-Tessmer
PYM General Secretary