General Secretary Report to Councils

General Secretary, PYM

General Secretary Report on Staff Activity to Councils

Mid November – Mid December 2018

Business and Finances:

  • Your Part Time Controller has PYM’s accounting work in hand. Check writing and payroll have run smoothly, as have all Aging grants which are sent out at the beginning of each month.
    We received the 2018 Audit from our auditors, Kreischler Miller. It is a clean audit, without remarks, and was accepted by the Audit Committee on December 10th. It will be presented to the Administrative Council on the 15th.
  • We took first steps toward reviewing our cybersecurity systems and practices.
  • The beautiful December appeal was mailed on November 26 and our incoming mail has been pleasantly heavy. The new database automates a five-year giving report for each donor and compares income year over year. An analysis of current donors shows we are generally matching or exceeding their prior years’ giving. We will shift to reaching out to lapsed donors in January and February.
  • Weekly emails with the theme of ‘the 25 Gifts of Yearly Meeting’ are going out weekly, extending the December appeal electronically. At the close of the year PYM also reminds donors to make a gift to their monthly meeting in its final electronic appeal.
  • After Administrative Council approved the establishment of a Development Committee in its care the Admin Governance Committee took steps toward peopling it effectively. It established a Sprint to work with staff to thresh the most pressing questions and to lay the groundwork for the launching of a full-fledged, effective committee.

Program and Ministry:

  • Friends in Business hosted the Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, at a dinner event on December 5. Enrollment was at a record high of about 90 people it a tremendously successful evening. It was a blessing to get him and he was a knowledgeable, compelling speaker. His brother went to Westtown School!
  • Youth staff and Quaker Life Council are populating the Youth Programs Advisory Committee.
  • Staff met with Quarterly Meeting Coordinators to learn about their work and explore ways of supporting them with yearly meeting resources. They also discussed PYM Youth Program events with Friends Schools.
  • Community Engagement has completed their second Zoom call with Friends of other yearly meetings –  it is wonderful to be in relationship together as we continue to develop a strategic direction for our work.
  • We have been preparing applications from members for review at the semi-annual meeting of the PYM Greenleaf Granting Group. The Greenleaf Granting Group makes grants to aging Friends of modest means in need of financial support for medical and/or residential expenses. In this granting cycle, approximately twenty applications will be reviewed.
  • We are drafting a harassment policy for use at yearly meeting events and the PYM community. The Quaker Life Council will move it forward from the draft.
  • Program & Religious Life staff are currently working with other PYM staff, Friends General Conference, Friends Journal, Pendle Hill and Friends Committee on National Legislation on several projects related to outreach:
    • Pendle Hill: PYM staff are working with the Education Coordinator at Pendle Hill to plan a Quaker Skills institute. See the Pendle Hill Website for more information. Pendle Hill also produced a series of suggested program evaluation metrics (funded by a Shoemaker grant) that we will integrate into our own program evaluation work in April.
    • Friends Committee on National Legislation: We are working with Christine Ashley at FCNL to imagine how our community might creatively and collaboratively use FCNL’s new Quaker Welcome Center.
    • Friends General Conference: FGC’s Spiritual Deepening Program has a focus related to welcoming newcomers and inclusion. PYM staff are meeting monthly with FGC staff Holly Baldwin, members of the QLC Program Committee, the PYM Membership Development Granting Group, and members from New York Yearly Meeting who are focused on outreach.
    • Friends Journal: We are working with Jon Watts of QuakerSpeak to produce four videos that can be used as resources for monthly meetings around welcoming newcomers.
    • We have invited FGC staff Holly Baldwin and Friends Journal staff Jon Watts to lead sessions at the February 9 Outreach and Communications Thread Gathering to be held at Abington Monthly Meeting. Please mark your calendars!

Communications and Technology:

  • WordPress, our website content management system released a major upgrade. Our Website Manager is in the next stage of modifying the back end of the website to ensure a seamless transition.  This is a complicated and ongoing project.
  • 2018 State of the Meeting reports have been posted to the website. Previous years’ reports are in the process of being added.
  • Positive feedback on the website gets stronger every month and Friends are expressing appreciation of the changes.
  • Staff are planning the next Faith in Practice newsletter which will focus on the religious experience within our community.
  • The third party that processes our online payments, Acceptiva, renovated their software platform. There were some significant bugs in the update which led to credit card processing errors and restricted PYM’s administration access. The CEO of Acceptiva posted an open apology to all of its customers on its website. Things seem back on track now.
  • We had already decided to move from Acceptiva to another platform, Click and Pledge, which integrates well with Salesforce and have now determined an earlier start-date for that transition.
  • We will be switching our email platform form Constant Contact to Mail Chimp and expect this change in February.  Mail Chimp will allow us to automatically integrate data from outgoing emails into the database.
  • Verification of the information in our new database, Salesforce, continues. We have removed duplicated records and deleted old contact and other peripheral information. All deleted data was archived first as a precaution.

Staff and Administration:

  • We are nearing completion of staff annual reviews and subsequently revising staff goals.
  • Legal review of the revised staff handbook is nearing completion.
  • The data entry position was posted – we have a large applicant pool and one internal candidate.
  • We successfully completed open enrollment for benefits with a combination of staff and consultant support. Distributing, completing, reviewing and processing the necessary documents and answering all questions is a big job that came at a time of some staff turnover. The team effort was led by our new Director of HR and Inclusion and included our accountant, an HR consultant, and our brokers.
  • We now have a draft of an individualized on-boarding plan, an organizational on-boarding document, and a process to support employee improvement plans.
  • A staff person has been identified to lead a selection committee for the staff liaison to the personnel committee.
  • The General Secretary and Director of HR and Inclusion have recommended to staff that we eliminate the staff voice policy, because its goals can be addressed more robustly with attention to culture and processes in staff and, additionally, because a separate policy can be restrictive and experienced as oppressive by some.  A series of meetings with staff have begun to thresh that recommendation.
  • The office was closed for two days for Thanksgiving and many staff took advantage of the slow week and took vacation.  The office will be closed for two days for Christmas and one for New Year’s in the coming month and many staff will again be out of the office for a week or more at this slow time.

Inclusion and Anti-Racism:

  • Zakia Williams is compiling information received from individual PYM staff interviews and looking for themes and trends.  This information will be reported back to staff at staff meeting and we will seek input on next steps.
  • Zachary Dutton attended, for the second time, Beyond Diversity 101 training at Pendle Hill led by Niyonu Spann. Zachary served as an intern at this training which is a step toward being a facilitator in the work.
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer attended the training by Philadelphia Quarter titled A Friendly Response to ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’ Feelings – An Interactive Workshop
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer attended the annual consultation of the Conference of National Black Churches (CNBC).  This year’s them was “Unearthing the Effects of Racism: A Pathway to Hope in a Time of Hate.”  The CNBC has invited the board members of the National Council of Churches to attend and Christie was one of about 6 communions who responded.


  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer and Zachary Dutton, Associate Secretary for Program & Religious Life, attended the FCNL annual meeting in Washington DC. There is a report in PYM’s Web News.
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer, Grace Sharples Cooke, Associate Secretary for Advancement and Relationship, Linell McCurry, Associate Secretary for Business & Finance, and Meg Rose, Young Adult Engagement Coordinator, attended Friends in Business with Governor Wolf.
  • Grace Sharples Cooke attended worship at Centre Meeting in Delaware and met with the clerk afterwards to talk about the life and work of the meeting.
  • Wendy Kane visited Greenwich Monthly Meeting and was warmly welcomed by the community.