We are elated to welcome Afroza Hossain to PYM Staff as Interim Young Adult Friends Facilitator! Afroza will work closely with other members of our staff Community Engagement Team to support young adult programming through the fall while we search for someone to fill a permanent position.
It is with sadness that we announce that Tricia Coscia is leaving PYM staff in early January 2018. She will be working next with Witness to Innocence, a nonprofit devoted to ending the death penalty. Tricia has served in various roles since 2009, and in each has far exceeded our wildest expectations. Much of what we have been able to achieve is due to her devoted service (along with others). From Aging Coordinator, to Sessions & Volunteer Coordinator to Community Engagement Coordinator, Tricia has been the ballast of the Program and Religious Life Department. She has kept us centered and grounded as we move forward. She has been the glue that builds relationships, and she has been a beloved member of our wider community of Friends. While we are gladdened she will embark soon on a new adventure, we know we will miss her deeply.
Announcements about the permanent staffing to cover the tremendous size of Tricia’s portfolio are forthcoming. In the meantime, Eric Berdis, formerly Sessions Assistant, has stepped into the Interim Sessions Coordinator role to take on all of Tricia’s responsibilities related to Continuing and Annual Sessions.
Read more about Eric Berdis.
Read a more detailed letter about the transition than went to PYM groups.
We are excited that Eric Anthony Berdis has stepped into the role of Interim Sessions Coordinator! Eric is no stranger to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting; they** have worked as our Sessions Assistant since 2015. Eric also served our community as the Event Coordinator for Arch Street Meeting House’s William Penn Fundraiser. Excited to bring his** energy and creativity to working with the Sessions Coordinating Committee, Eric has found joy in this work. He hopes to usher new connections and to support our ongoing efforts in making spaces safer and accessible to all friends.
Eric is originally from Erie, Pa, and received a BFA from Slippery Rock University. Outside of Continuing and Annual Sessions, Eric is an artist, interested in the intersections of DIY culture, craft-oriented practices, histories of grassroots social-justice activism, and theories of gender and sexuality.
**Please note that Eric uses they/them/their and he/him/his pronouns. Learn more about this on our website.
Read a more detailed letter about the transition that went to PYM groups.
Our New Youth Engagement Coordinator!
Scroll down for a personal message from Melinda.
We announce with great joy that Melinda Wenner Bradley of West Chester Monthly Meeting will soon join the staff of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) as our first Youth Engagement Coordinator. Melinda will work with other community members to steward the ministry and religious life of our children, families and youth. She will begin in December of 2017, focusing first on the continued success of our current youth programs and then on the health and vitality of religious education and youth work within all the different communities that make up our yearly meeting.
Since 1995, Melinda Wenner Bradley’s journey has woven together callings in children’s spiritual lives, program development, education, and family and teacher support. She brings a wealth of wisdom and a vision that spans across yearly meetings. Melinda presently serves New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) as their Children and Youth Field Secretary. She will transition out of this role to join PYM staff, and we will collaborate with her NYYM colleagues to ensure a smooth transition that honors the important and valuable work she has done there. We are excited and deeply grateful to Melinda for the opportunity to forward a vision for religious education and youth work that brings us closer together, strengthens the spiritual lives of our many families, and builds vital youth programs locally and regionally throughout our yearly meeting.
Below, we include a message from Melinda regarding this announcement.
I’m delighted to accept this position and begin serving Philadelphia Yearly Meeting as the Youth Engagement Coordinator. Its creation presents an exciting opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in youth ministry, and to serve young people, families, and local meetings across the yearly meeting. Since 2013, I’ve focused on religious education work in yearly meeting, local meeting, and Friends school communities, in service to growing sustainable models for children and youth programs. My work has been shaped by listening and nurturing connections in the communities I have served. Developing and sharing resources is only one part of this work. I am equally excited about how we build networks and lift up the many gifts among Friends, and how we gather vital spiritual communities for young people in yearly meeting programs for Children and Families, Middle School, and Young Friends. I view life-long spiritual formation as a ministry that our Religious Society can be more intentional in supporting. Partnership with other ministries in a meeting community, and between meetings and families, is vital for our young people to grow to be the Quakers the world needs. In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to visiting among Friends, re-connecting and introducing ourselves as we work and play together.
In faith and friendship,
Melinda Wenner Bradley
Incoming Youth Engagement Coordinator
I want to make sure you are aware that we are nearing completion of the process to hire our first Youth Engagement Coordinator. We aim to complete the process by the middle of November, 2017. Another announcement will follow at that time. [Read more…] about Apply to Work with and for Our Youth
I am excited to announce that Meg Rose will begin serving as our Young Adult Engagement Coordinator on September 1, 2017. She has served as Interim YAF Co-Coordinator for the past few months and as Interim Children’s Religious Life Coordinator for the past year. Meg’s unique experience in supporting children, families, and young adults will help us as we build on our successes.
I have observed Meg’s brilliance, ability to hold many different needs in community, and her forward-thinking approach to the work of organizing communities.
Meg’s first priority will be to identify new funding sources so we can extend the Young Adult Engagement Coordinator position beyond the two year mark.
Alongside our Community Engagement Team, Meg and I will also make it a priority to train our focus on the margins of young adult community — young parents, young adults of color, young adults who are not enticed by the current set of offerings, and young adults who can’t make it out for evening fellowship in Philly or weekend-long retreats.
Lastly, with Meg’s leadership, we will now be able to develop a practice area within our burgeoning Resource Friends Program to support meetings and other local Quaker communities in becoming increasingly inclusive and empowering for young adult Friends.
With love and excitement,
Zachary T. Dutton
Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life
I write to make sure that you are aware that Hannah Mayer, our Young Friends Coordinator and Youth & Young Adult Programs (Y&YAP) Team Leader, has accepted a position at Lansdowne Friends School as a Physical Education and Quakerism Teacher. She begins in early September and so will remain with PYM through Annual Sessions. Her last day as our Young Friends Coordinator and Y&YAP Team Leader will be August 2, 2017. However, Hannah will remain on PYM staff, as she recently accepted the position of Young Friends Program Facilitator. In this role Hannah will rarely be in the office. The majority of her staff time will be spent running the Young Friends programs on site.
In her note to Young Friends announcing her next step, Hannah quoted the Lyrics from “Dear Friends”, which is a Quaker hymn. It is usually sung in a round and goes:
Dear friend, dear friend,
Let me tell you how I feel.
You have given me such treasures.
I love you so.
To me, and among other things, this song is about how we change each other. It is certainly the case that Hannah has changed me, and she has had an equally important impact, I know, on the many in our community who have worked closely with her.
I have very much appreciated Hannah’s leadership and her sincere and earnest advocacy for our young people. She has taught me many things and brought joy to my life through our supervision work. Her patient attention to Spirit as it moves through our young people and ability to capture and respond to it is a gift our world deeply needs. This is why I am excited that she will continue bringing it at Lansdowne Friends School and to PYM Young Friends as their Program Facilitator.
There will be opportunities to celebrate Hannah’s work with PYM over more than seven years at the upcoming Annual Sessions.
Until then and with love,
Zachary T. Dutton
Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life
It is with sadness that I announce Benjamin Camp’s departure from service on Philadelphia Yearly Meeting staff as Children’s Religious Life Program Coordinator. Until recently, Ben also served as our Youth & Young Adult Programs Team Leader. He will be working through the 2016 Annual Sessions, and his last day will be Tuesday, August 2, 2016. Ben’s authentic sense of humor and cheery demeanor helps us face all challenges with levity. He also brings his charisma to stewarding the spiritual lives of children and to building a community of families. I know that he will be missed by all.
At the coming 2016 Annual Sessions, during Saturday dinner, starting around 5:30 PM, we will be serving Ben’s favorite dessert (which is pie) in the GQ Cafe across from the help desk in Seegers Union. All families, children, and Friends who worked with him are invited to attend this time for celebrating Ben’s six-year tenure.
Ben also brings to the job usefully brilliant and keen strategic thinking, from which we continue to benefit. We can be confident that his coming endeavors will be well in hand and wish him much success!
We are also excited to welcome Meg Rose, who will be taking over Ben’s role on Philadelphia Yearly Meeting staff as Interim Children’s Religious Life Coordinator. Her first day is Monday, July 18, and she will overlap with Ben through Annual Sessions.
Meg comes to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting from Cincinnati, although she grew up in Wayne, PA and attended Westtown School where she was first introduced to the Quaker Way. Her involvement in the Quaker Leadership Program and general community life of Westtown deepened her connection with her own spirituality and inspired her to continue her education at Earlham College. Meg majored in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and focussed a lot of her academics and activism on Spanish and the U.S/Mexico Borderlands, a region she is particularly passionate about after her semester in Tucson, AZ. Both on and off campus, Meg sought community; she participated in Earlham’s Quaker Fellows Program, she was a member of the student-run coffee cooperative and several intentional living communities, and she was a First Day School instructor at West Richmond Friends.
In the coming year, Meg will focus on forwarding the trajectory of the Children’s Religious Life Program toward building multigenerational community.
Zachary T. Dutton
Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life
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Christie Duncan-Tessmer recently assumed her role as General Secretary of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting effective September 1, 2014. Christie previously served as the Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life since 2008 and was the Children’s Religious Education Coordinator from 2005 to 2008. Prior to her tenure with Philadelphia Yearly Meeting she held positions at Friends General Conference, the Newtown Friends School and leadership roles at several Delaware Valley social service nonprofit organizations. For more information about Christie, please see the complete announcement about her appointment.
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Zachary T. Dutton joined our organization as Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life, effective September 1, 2014. Zachary has been a leader in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting community for over ten years. Within various capacities, he has brought a vision of a yearly meeting whose increased connection engenders vibrant ministry, thought leadership and growth for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and the wider Religious Society of Friends. Zachary worked and studied at Haverford College and Harvard Divinity School and recently served as the Coordinator for Western Quarterly Meeting and Co-Clerk of the PYM Young Adult Friends Working Group. He is an avid foodie, Alabama football enthusiast and coffee drinker. Zachary resides in Philadelphia with his partner and two imaginary dogs.
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Elizabeth Piersol Schmidt will assume her new role as Young Adult Friends (YAF) Coordinator on September 15, 2014. Elizabeth became involved in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting through our Youth Programs, attending Young Friends gatherings and chaperoning Middle School Friends events as a teenager. After high school she continued to serve as a Friendly Adult Presence for Middle School Friends and Young Friends including serving as the Middle School Friends Assistant. In 2006 Elizabeth joined PYM staff as Children’s Sessions Coordinator. In 2011 she became the part-time Young Adult Friends Communications Coordinator & Retreat Planner; and for the past four and a half years she has also worked at the Parent-Infant Center in West Philadelphia as the lead teacher for the kindergarten after school class. Elizabeth lives and worships in West Philadelphia. Elizabeth cooks, bakes, gardens, is passionate about sustainable food systems and has recently entered into world of canning. She takes classes in circus aerials and is currently training to be a yoga teacher. She gets into the woods to hike as often as she can.