General Secretary Report to Councils

General Secretary, PYM

Mid-May to Mid-June 2019

Business and Finances:

  • Completed the FY 2020 Draft Budget for Finance Committee, which will recommend to Admin Council that it be shared with the monthly and quarterly meetings.  A final Proposed Budget, adjusted for any new information, will be completed in early July for approval at Annual Sessions. 
  • Stewarded two bequests from Friends who are no longer with us. One of these is directed to the new Legacy Fund.

Program and Ministry:

  • Annual Sessions registration is live! Register and find out details at  
  • We’re coming into the home stretch before our Quakers Got Talent fundraiser on June 17th.  This month we nailed down a diverse roster of performers for the show; supported the YAF QGT pre-party with the support of a donor to cover partial costs; mailed publicity to monthly meetings, and all Quaker schools (some placed ads), met our goal in advertising in the program and secured the gift of a pair of earrings (value $3000) for our Quakers got Talent auction. 
  • The dates for PYM Programs are set for September 2019 through July 2020. There are around 40 programs that range from camping sleepovers for families to skill building on property issues to gatherings for monthly meeting clerks.  See the PYM calendar for upcoming events  
  • We laid the groundwork for the first effort to bring together PYM Friends who represent us to other Quaker organizations so they can know each other, PYM can hear what they are working on and they can hear PYM’s priorities. 
  • The first Quaker Institute was held at Pendle Hill, which PYM program staff helped frame and facilitate in collaboration with Pendle Hill.  The PYM Youth Religious Life Coordinator facilitated the workshop titled “Recognizing the Gifts of Young People in Community and Worship”. PYM communications collaborated to promote awareness of the Quaker Institute with a news story plus regular inclusion in our PYM weekly email featuring news and events. 
  • The Youth Religious Life Coordinator trained with Interfaith Philadelphia to become a facilitator of “Civil Conversations” for youth. 
  • Several staff met with David Johnson, author of A Quaker Prayer Life, to talk about the movement of spirit amongst young adult friends in the world. David is travelling in North America for 4 months. 

Communications and Technology:

  • The June issue of “Tote Bag” – an electronic newsletter resource on religious education was published.  
  • Designed materials for the Quakers Got Talent event including a poster, ad book advertising campaign, and program. 
  • Designed and mailed compelling tri-fold publicity for Annual Sessions. 
  • Our new database provided all the data it is meant to provide for the spring fundraising campaign – this is the first time we’ve relied 100% on that resource.
  • We developed a plan for managing the data held in our communications tool, Constant Contact, as we shift to reliance on one database, Salesforce. 
  • We laid the groundwork for a new communications tool that synchs with Salesforce and successfully tested it with two emails to the group of people who are identified in Salesforce as Bridge Contacts. 
  • Repaired new web defect that made it impossible to submit news or events to our website.

Staff and Administration:

  • PYM’s Young Adult Engagement and Sessions Coordinator has enrolled in school and will vacate the Session Coordinator role effective 8/2/2019.  She will remain with PYM as the Young Adult Engagement Coordinator in a part-time capacity.   
  • The position “Transitional Meeting Engagement and Data Coordinator” expires at the end of the summer.  This position was created as a temporary way to explore what kind of staff support we need in the new Advancement & Communications department.  This change together with the vacancy in the Sessions Coordinator position, also happening at the end of the summer, created space for implementing some new positions. Two positions are in the works.  One is a full-time position to coordinate events (including Sessions) and resources.  This will allow the sessions support to be part of a full-time position and also allows us staff capacity to curate resources from monthly and quarterly meetings to make them available across the yearly meeting and to keep our website current with resources for addressing racism and racial justice and events and trainings on anti-racism that PYM Friends could attend.  The other position is a part-time, benefits-eligible position to deepen the bench on our communications and fundraising activities. 
  • Staffing plans are in use for vacant youth program positions, drawing mostly from a reserve of program staff.  A temporary sessions assistant has been hired for Annual sessions and recruitment is ongoing for a Middle School Friends Assistant and Children and Families Assistant. 
  • We talked with three different consultants about helping us to manage recruitment for open positions.  We sought an organization that could reliably use approaches that would help us with increasing the amount of diversity in our candidate pools. As a result, we are looking forward to working with AFSC’s HR department again.   

Inclusion and Anti-Racism: 

  • The National Council of Churches hosted a semi-annual Jewish-Christian Dialogue at Mother Bethel AME Church on anti-Semitism and racism.  The General Secretary was invited to speak on the experience of a faith community in engaging in anti-racism work. 
  • The General Secretary and the Director of HR and Inclusion continued conversations with Prototype Entities about training and other opportunities for staff and/or the wider community. 
    • Staff meetings are held every other month; in June our meeting was five hours long and focused mostly on the inclusion and anti-racism work we’re doing.  In particular we: 
    • Heard from the Operations Team (Senior Staff) about their experience with holding space for reflecting on racism and other oppression we observe or experience in Quaker community. 
    • Considered if we want to hold that same kind of space for all staff and if so what would it take to do it in a way that is generative and expanding. 
    • Considered what kind of training we want 
    • Learned about Diversity Statements and began a process of writing one for ourselves 
    • Reviewed all of the other conversations and steps we’ve taken in this direction and then identified what we have the most energy for going forward. 

Visits to Quaker Meetings and Organizations:

  • Many staff visited The College of New Jersey on June 11to prepare for Annual Sessions  
  • Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator, visited Medford Meeting June 9. 
  • Meg Rose, Young Adult Engagement and Sessions Coordinator, and Zachary Dutton, Associate Secretary for Program & Religious Life, attended Sunday of Continuing Revolution with Young Adult Friends at Pendle Hill.  
  • Grace Cooke, Associate Secretary for Advancement & Relationship, visited Quakertown Meeting 
  • Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary, attended the board meeting and the finance committee meeting of Friends Fiduciary and the board meeting of Friends Center 
  • Christie met with the heads of other Quaker organizations for a half day meeting focused on courage and on relationship