General Secretary Report to Councils

General Secretary, PYM

Mid-January Through Mid-February 2019

Business and Finances:

  • The FY 2018 audited financial statements were posted on the website.  See them at are finishing the annual report, an attractive, user-friendly summary of PYMs 2018 fiscal year which will be sent to donors next month.
  • PYM’s insurance policies renew in January.  The 2019 PYM Master Policy, under the Friends Insurance Group, insures 91 meetings, 8 Friends schools and 9 Quaker organizations.
  • We have posted the Granting Committee approved handbook of granting policies and procedures [PDF], covering all the individual granting groups and PYM granting information. This is a living document on the PYM Grants website, to track and share the Group’s policies and procedures.

Program and Ministry:

  • The Winter Gathering for Middle School age youth was held at Medford meeting in New Jersey.  A highlight was an exploration of race with Friends from PYM’s Social Justice Resource Friends group. This workshop helped participants become more aware of their own cultural identity and views about people from different backgrounds, and expand their consciousness of stereotypes and varying cultural norms.
  • The Winter Gathering for Young Friends (high school youth) at Greene Street meeting in Philadelphia. The young Friends explored the theme of activism, working with Just Act, a theatre-based catalyst for healing, change, and activism to build a just world.
  • Young Adult Friends have been working collaboratively to plan the action around closing the detention center for families in Berks County.  A fully developed webpage is complete and a schedule for the action is emerging. 
  • Registration for Continuing Sessions is open.  The location for the 2020 Spring Continuing Sessions is being scouted.
  • The contract with The College of New Jersey was negotiated, completed, and was kept within budget.
  • One Quilt, One Yearly Meeting is being promoted with weekly Facebook updates, stories, and pictures about each meeting’s quilt square.
  • The Outreach Thread Gathering was a strong success with 55 people in attendance.  Previous outreach events have had half that attendance.

Communications and Technology:

  • We updated the PYM Grants web pages, making the structure much clearer, and easier to navigate.
  • We sent the inaugural issue of our “Tote Bag” e-newsletter out to nearly 1200 email addresses. This provides resources for religious education and families.
  • We are planning a shift to a new ‘theme’ or framework for the website.  Our current website was developed in 2013 with a custom theme which doesn’t easily update when WordPress updates. This necessitates constant attention and repair which the move will address.
  • We began an integration of communication and event registration within the new Salesforce database. 
  • Sent print invitations to Friends for two Thread Gatherings, the winter and spring Friends in Fellowship events, Continuing Sessions and the YAFled action at Berks Detention Center for Families.
  • Sent a Valentines mailing (with upcoming programs through Annual Sessions) to 450 young people who participated in our programs in last year. This communication also went to new contacts in our database.
  • Developed and mailed a print communication to validate individual information in the database. This will be followed up by an email campaign for the same purpose.  Most PYM information was successfully migrated to our new database, but some information is incorrect or out of date. This mailing will both alert Friends to the issue and help us get corrected information.
  • We moved our Library database to the cloud.  This was the final chunk information previously stored on servers. The accounting database, constituent relationship database, and staff files were all moved to the cloud within the past year.  The move saves money and brings us into alignment with the practices of our IT management support (provided by AFSC).

Staff and Administration:

  • Arranged to continue our contract with an HR consultant to support benefits administration and staff needs.  This supports the Director of HR and Inclusion who is part-time and is in alignment with our vision of possibilities for this position.
  • Staff Policies Handbook: Received a legal review of our revised handbook.  There were few substantive comments. The Personnel Committee is reviewing the final draft. Next steps include a final review by the staff and then giving it to the Admin Council for its review.
  • Drafted policy and procedures on staff professional development.
  • Implemented a new sick time policy that changes how sick time is granted and accrued and presented it to staff.  Effective 4/1/19 sick time will accrue for all employees working over 40 hours per year.  
  • Conducted research on staff training that for Mental Health First Aid, Mandated Reporting & Child Safety, and Food Safety.  Goals are to find cost effective trainings for these priority areas and to and provide convenient scheduling options for staff. 
  • Identified training opportunities for supervision and management skills. We seek programs focused on culturally sensitive supervisory practices. 
  • Staff formed an ad-hoc committee (including one staff member from each department) to determine the duties of the staff liaison position.  This committee forwarded a candidate who was confirmed during staff meeting and their duties were approved by staff.  Margaret Rose is to serve as the staff liaison for a period of one year.  
  • Recruitment & Onboarding:
    • Nick Gutowski, Grants Associate, was promoted to serve as Director of Grantmaking effective following the retirement of Carol Walz in March.
    • We posted and interviewed for our Gift Processing and Data Entry position. Kimani Keaton, an internal candidate, was hired and now performs dual roles as a youth staff facilitator and data entry associate.
    • Began recruitment for two part-time Event Support Staff at Arch Street Meeting House. 
    • We took on an intern to support the YAF action at Berks Detention Center and to help to plan Sessions publicity and the next YAF retreat. 
    • PYMs onboarding process has now includes a comprehensive and individualized onboarding plan for each new employee.  The focus is on welcoming the employee and ensuring they have all the tools and support needed to get started and be successful in their job.  Onboarding also serves to build an inclusive and cohesive work environment as staff members have a role in supporting the new employee.   

Inclusion and Anti-Racism:

  • A presentation was made to staff on communication & transparency, cohesion, onboarding, and lack of diversity. 
  • Used last month’s presentation to PYM staff (on themes and trends identified from staff interviews conducted by Director of HR and Inclusion) to plan for next steps.  Plans include a meeting with PYM staff, articulation of supports needed to effectively  to effectively engage in inclusion, and anti-racism work.


  • Melinda Wenner Bradley, the Youth Engagement Coordinator, traveled to Kenya to facilitate conference for East African Sunday School teachers at Friends Theological College. 
  • Melinda met with a youth event organizer from Upper Susquehanna Quarter and with Ed Doty from YSOP to discuss new possibilities to create bridges within PYM and program possibilities. 
  • Melinda facilitated the Children’s Program for Concord Quarterly Meeting.
  • George Schaefer, Care and Aging Coordinator, lead a meeting retreat for Trenton Friends on addressing conflict in meeting.
  • George presented a program on the beginnings of Quakerism at Princeton Friends. 
  • Wendy Kane, Transition Meeting Engagement and Data Coordinator, visited Lancaster Meeting. 
  • Grace Sharples Cooke, Associate Secretary for Advancement and Relationship, visited Birmingham Meeting. 
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary, met with the archivist at Haverford College to gain clarity on what the library wants from PYM, what is available (for example, all YM and MM minutes and records of births, deaths and marriages are available on and to think about how to engage meetings with the historic records when the library reopens after renovations in the fall. 
  • Christie met with the newish Executive Director of Jewish Community Relations Council, Rabbi Batya Glazer. 
  • Christie met with the Haverford College Douglas and Dorothy Steere Professor of Quaker Studies, David Harrington Watt.