General Secretary Report to Councils

General Secretary, PYM

Mid-November 2019

Business and Finances:

  • Our annual audit field work was completed this week. This year new requirements in audit format are in effect and we have different people in the controller role. The process has been smooth so far. 
  • Key staff, governance and granting group members have been meeting, talking and sharing documents to resolve issues and support the highest effectiveness of the Greenleaf Fund which supports those who are aging. 
  • PYM staff, archivists from Swarthmore and Haverford College Libraries and members of the laid-down Record Services Group are making plans for supporting PYM’s and monthly and quarterly meetings’ archival processes. 

Program and Ministry:

  • Continuing Sessions was held at Arch Street Meeting House.  Reports and minutes are posted on the web ( 
  • We launched the Quaker Self Portrait project which includes a census of how many people are attending our meetings on Sundays and an invitation to share what our meetings look like with selfies, quilt squares or any way a meeting would like to (haikus?!).  It also included a “soft launch” of an invitation to individual Friends to share more detailed demographics such as race and gender identity in order to create a baseline of our community demographics. 
  • We hosted 15 Friends at the first Friends in Fellowship this year with Taiya Smith (Solebury Meeting) speaking on carbon pricing and climate change. Tayia is a highly regarded China expert specializing in climate issues. She was key to designing and managing the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) under Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson. During Obama’s presidency she served as the point person on Darfur, working with the Sudanese government and rebel factions. She has also been a Presidential Management Fellow in the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (based in Washington) covering Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire. 
  • Held a first meeting of key Friends to explore how Philadelphia Yearly Meeting can enhance and sustain new and important expressions of Quakerism, under the direction of the Quaker Life Council.  
  • The Community Engagement staff team met with staff at Pendle Hill to continue relationship building and seeking opportunities for collaboration. 
  • Middle School Friends had a wonderful Fall Gathering at West Chester Meeting, 10/18-10/20.  
  • Young Adult Friends is continuing ministry in migrant justice through involvement in “Drive PA Forward Campaign” connecting with YAFs who work with New Sanctuary Movement and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
  • Young Adult Friends Leadership has changed. Here is the new lineup. This new group will have dinner at Friends Center after Thanksgiving.  
    • Clerks: Mary Tierney and Catherine Campbell.  
    • Pastoral Care: Eleanor Barba and Kimani Keaton.  
    • Recording Clerk: Carl Stanton.  
  • Young Adult Friends met at Pendle Hill on Thursday 11/14. 
  • Quaker Life Council has asked for support in the process of recruiting members for the Sessions Coordinating Committee and the Program Committee. If people have ideas of who could serve on either one, please contact Zachary Dutton. 

Communications and Technology:

  • We initiated new tech to track traffic on our website. 
  • We added a “Quaker Directory” ( to the website (this is an ongoing project). 
  • We started using a news aggregator tool (Feedly) to find Quaker news from around the world. 
  • A report and minutes from Continuing Sessions was up on the PYM website within a day of the event with both a news article on the morning program and the finalized minutes posted Monday. Our news feed featured the work of the group of Friends who volunteered at Annual Sessions to help in anti-racism work. Later that week, we pushed out antiracism information and tools in the weekly email.   
  • Staff training on an integrated Salesforce email system was given.  

Staff and Administration:

  • The Executive Director of Arch Street Meeting House (ASMH), Lynne Calamia, resigned after nearly seven years of service. During that time historic preservation of the meetinghouse property became paramount and we secured funding for improvements to our interpretational programs. Lynne created important partnerships with the historical community and led the campaign to have Arch Street Meeting House named as an International Site of Conscience. 
  • Caroline Boyce, of Inter-Mission LLC is serving as Interim Executive Director at ASMH and is supporting the board in the search for the next Director. 
  • Lucas Richie began working with PYM as the Grants Associate (following the promotion of Nick Gutowski to Director of Grantmaking).  Lucas brings recent experience with the Bread & Roses Community Fund and with Quaker Voluntary Service – as well as with PYM. 
  • We are in the final stages of the search for Middle School Friends Program Assistant, Children & Families Program Assistant, and Events & Resources Coordinator. The Advancement & Communications Coordinator search is in full swing. The searches for program and development positions at ASMH have been suspended while the Executive Director search is prioritized; interim support options are being explored. 
  • Staff made waffles for lunch in the GenSec office one afternoon. 

Inclusion and Anti-Racism: 

  • The Associate Secretary for Program & Religious Life and the Youth Religious Life Coordinator attended Niyonu Spann’s Beyond Diversity 101: Race training at Pendle Hill the week of 10/22.  They shared their experience with staff over lunch. 
  • Staff has explored how we want to arrange support for ourselves as we engage in anti-racism and inclusion training and taken steps to put that support in place. 
  • The General Secretary was invited by the Pastors Wives of the Church of God in Christ in the Pittsburgh region to accept an award for Quakers for our historic work in anti-slavery and to provide the Response to the Opening Remarks at the awards dinner.  She offered remarks on our complex history and continued need to address racism.  Friends from Pittsburgh Friends Meeting were invited to attend, and several did. 

Staff visits: 

  • Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator, visited the Chester Quarter retreat and presented about support for youth and families in local meetings. 
  • Melinda visited Gwynedd Meeting for worship and led multigenerational program on 10/27.  
  • Grace Sharples Cooke visited Third Haven and Chester River Meetings, and had lunch with Friends from Upper Darby Meeting. 
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary, attended FGC’s annual meeting of the Central Committee. 
  • Christie attended FCNL’s annual meeting. 
  • Christie attended the Friends Fiduciary Investment Committee meeting and Finance Committee meeting.