The Yearly Meeting’s Program and Religious Life staff team is growing! Heading into the 2023 Fall season, expect great things as we are delighted to welcome two new team members, Inaara Shiraz, Inclusion and Belonging Coordinator and Abigaile Brace-Higgins, Children and Families Co-Facilitator to the PYM staff. In addition, Tara Rubinstein’s role on staff has expanded to a full-time position supporting both Sessions and other yearly meeting events.
Inaara Shiraz is serving as PYM’s Inclusion and Belonging Coordinator. In her role, Inaara will support diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts in the PYM community, as well as support for the community of Young Adult Friends. She profoundly believes in the power of people uniting to make ourselves and society more humane, welcoming, loving, and compassionate. Inaara graduated from Harvard University with a joint degree in History and Literature as well as in Theater, Dance and Media. She is experienced in helping organizations align system-wide communications with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) standards.
Inaara is overjoyed that she can devote herself fully to understanding how the Yearly Meeting community can commit to being more inclusive and welcoming of people across identities and experiences. As her all-time favorite author Min Jin Lee, who wrote the novels Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko, has shared, “You must critically think about when your absence is welcomed.” Inaara is committed to asking the hard questions and understanding what barriers need to be overcome to create a more welcoming space for current and future members of the PYM community of meetings. She is sincerely excited to meet with Friends in the coming weeks and months. Her support of the Young Adult Friends community will commence with the YAF Fall Retreat hosted at Lehigh Valley Meeting in October!
Recently, Inaara has started regularly attending yoga classes which she finds both rewarding and calming. She loves the Fall season, and in her free time can be found enjoying walks when the crisp, cool autumn air. Inaara hopes to one day learn to play the piano, paint with watercolors, and own a full in-home coffee bar where she can practice making and taste testing various kinds of coffee.
Affectionately known as “Abby,” Abigaile Brace-Higgins joins Crystal Hershey as Co-Facilitator of the Children and Families program, serving our youngest Friends and their families. She is a passionate Friend who is deeply committed to enriching the spiritual lives of Quaker children and fostering stronger connections within the Friends’ community. She is an active Mickleton Monthly Meeting and Salem Quarter member, serving on multiple committees. Abby enthusiastically helps coordinate families for community activities as a class representative for Friends Family Collaborative at Friends School Mullica Hill. She contributed to the planning circle, led songs, and read inspiring stories during PYM’s Giant Children’s Meetings. Abby earned her MFA in Fine Art from Rutgers University and was trained in Faith & Play/Godly Play storytelling at Pendle Hill. In her spare time, Abby enjoys painting, photography, singing, and storytelling and bringing art, music, and creativity to the Children and Families program. With her charisma, communication skills, and ability to encourage empathy and understanding, Abby is a great Friend to have on the Youth Programs team!
Tara Rubinstein is no stranger to the PYM family. This July, Tara’s role expanded into a full-time position as Sessions and Events Coordinator! This role provides the primary staff support and leadership for the development, coordination, and implementation of Continuing and Annual Sessions. Expect to see Tara working closely with committees, clerks, and staff to ensure successful implementation of programmatic and logistical coordination of Sessions. Tara will also provide logistical and planning support for other events, working collaboratively with Program and Religious Life colleagues across program areas on Thread Gatherings and other events of varying types and interest areas. Be sure to congratulate Tara as she leads this position with expertise and grace.
We encourage you to reach out to our newest members of the Program and Religious Life department as they settle into their new roles.