General Secretary Report to Councils

General Secretary, PYM

General Secretary Report on Staff Activity to Councils

Mid-October Through Mid-November 2018

Business and Finance:

  • As shared in the written GenSec report to Continuing Sessions, PYM operations ended FY18 in a solid, positive position. Lower covenant and annual fund contributions year-over-year were mitigated by higher investment income and by expense reductions.  The balance sheet remained strong.  There was little change in net assets apart from investment gains, which are posted once a year at the FYE.
  • Completed audit preparations and welcomed the auditors who have been in the office all week.
  • Completed and signed an access agreement between PYM and US Construction, developer of a townhome project next door to the Arch Street Meeting House. The agreement sets out terms for scaffolding and lift access on the Arch Street property so work on the townhouse facades can be completed.  US Construction will rebuild at their expense a failing section of the non-historic brick wall closest to 3rd Street, which is currently braced.
  • Completed the process for supporting teachers’ retirement funds in small schools and for providing tuition aid for PYM students in Quaker schools.
  • Completed a compelling December appeal mailing and sent it to the printer. It will be mailed shortly after Thanksgiving. It includes a message that is personalized to the giving history of each of about 6,500 households.  We designed and sent a “no-ask” alternate version to 400 households that have requested not to be solicited. This way they still access the information included in the mailing.

Program and Ministry:

  • Continuing Sessions: 160+ Friends gathered for Continuing Sessions on Saturday November 3rd, filling the Arch Street Meeting House with children, families, and Friends coming together for business and Quaker conversations. All of the reports and meeting materials can be found on the continuing sessions webpage and the minutes are online.
  • Launched Bridge Contacts! Bridge Contacts are those identified by their meeting or other constituency to serve as a communications and relationship bridge between the activity in their meeting (or other constituency) and the activity in the yearly meeting and monthly meetings. We launched at Continuing Sessions and met our two-month goal in one day and are nearly 50% of our way to our mid-fiscal year goal.
  • Launched One Quilt One Yearly Meeting! This initiative invites every yearly meeting constituency – monthly meetings, collaboratives, any group that identifies as part of our community – to complete a fabric square which will be sewn together in a single quilt. The staff produced a video to share with meetings and others to encourage their participation.
  • Initiated a conversation of coordinated outreach and communications efforts across Quaker organizations.
  • Began the process of updating support for monthly meeting background checks with a more holistic view toward supporting child safety with meetings
  • Began developing a first draft of a harassment policy for PYM Friends.
  • At the invitation of the organizers, took part in a multi-faith news conference held at Friends Center following the shootings at the synagogue in Pittsburg and outside the church in Kentucky
  • Collaborated with the staff of Arch Street Meeting House to support the Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia in their ministry to provide safe space during an anti-Semitic rally in Philadelphia.
  • Published a summary of the State of the Meeting reports on our news feed.

Communications and Technology:

  • Began developing a communications and publicity plan for Annual and Continuing Sessions. This has been on the Wish List for so long and we now have the capacity to jump start it.
  • Communicated to all PYM Friends about what happened at Continuing Sessions at lightning speed – by the next morning it was posted as a news story and sent out by email.
  • Completed entering database backlog of updates and fiscal data so it is now functional.
  • Made huge headway on reorganizing the data migrated from the old database so it accurately reflects the household configurations.
  • Redesigned the website’s home page so it now loads in 2 seconds, includes a more robust calendar and a reconfigured and well-populated news section.
  • Completed six months of technical background work on the website so that when WordPress updates our website will still function.

Staff and Administration:

  • Finalized a draft of annual goals for staff, built upon strategic directions and staff plans for the coming year. All outcomes and objectives were reviewed and approved by responsible staff.  PYM governance leadership reviewed them, and staff has had a first opportunity to review them as well.
  • Our Controller, Cliessa Nagle resigned effective Friday, Nov. 16, the last day of the audit. We’ve made arrangements for short-term interim support for the controller responsibilities with Your Part Time Controller (YPTC) which provides nonprofits with highly skilled controller-level accountants on a temporary basis.
  • Renewed our relationship with the consultant who provided HR support to PYM for six months earlier this year to ensure that the benefits management is well supported during this time of transition.
  • Hired  an Assistant in the Young Friends Program following an extensive search process and interviews with several finalist candidates, PYM Youth Programs are delighted to welcome Aeryn Luminkith. She will begin her work with Young Friends at their Christmas Gathering.
  • The part time data entry position was posted.
  • Selected and approved staff health plan benefits for 2019.  There are minimal changes in the benefit coverage and no changes in the way in which employees contribute to the plan (2% of base salary for the employee plus 1% for each dependent to a max of 5%). The increase in cost to PYM is slightly below budget.
  • Met twice to discuss the staff voice policy and what we want to have in place to meet our needs in terms of policy, procedure and culture.
  • The Director of HR and Inclusion is wrapping up final staff interviews to understand individual roles and determine concerns and suggestions for HR.

Inclusion and Anti-Racism:

  • The Director of HR and Inclusion is reviewing the impact of past antiracism work on staff as well as planning for next steps with staff.
  • All staff were invited to register in the coming year for a multi-day anti-racism training if they haven’t yet done so.
  • Provided support for stepped-up communications for the Multicultural Audit Steering Committee.


  • Staff were invited to attend holiday events at monthly meetings on staff time.
  • Grace Sharples Cooke, Associate Secretary for Advancement & Relationship worshiped at Woodstown meeting and met with Friends there about their fundraising.
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary, attended the FGC Central Committee meeting
  • Christie and Lynne Calamia, Executive Director of Historic Arch Street Meeting House, worshiped at Chester meeting and attended an event about its history at which there were more than 50 people from many meetings and from the community.
  • Christie worshiped at Darby Meeting
  • Christie attended the Philadelphia Interfaith Leadership Council meeting
  • Christie attended Friends Historical Association Annual Meeting and Lecture