Our strategic directions guide us to connect Friends and meetings to one another so that we may experience vibrant, Spirit-led community and deepen our relationships. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has the gift of a devoted staff who support the community in making those connections. When there is turnover, as staff members move on, we have the opportunity to reflect on their meaningful contributions and to consider what new opportunities there are to continue to build on those contributions.
This year, two associate secretaries are moving on to the next stages of their careers within a few months of each other. Zachary Dutton, associate secretary for program & religious life; and Grace Sharples Cooke, associate secretary for advancement & relationship. Their contributions have benefited us all greatly, but their departures allow us the benefit of retooling our staff structure to support the community even more.
To facilitate this change, we will be consolidating the two associate secretary positions into a single new position: associate general secretary.. This associate general secretary will be responsible for leading the direction of staff in their day-to-day efforts to execute strategies that further our work together—like connecting Friends and working together on our yearly meeting-wide witnesses. The person in this position will supervise and integrate the work of program, communications, and data. They will also manage the internal systems that help PYM achieve its mission.
Additionally, the Communications and Program teams will each be supported by a director who will report to the associate general secretary. The director of program will be responsible for managing community engagement in the yearly meeting and will manage projects that involve staff across teams, keeping them integrated and focused. They will supervise community engagement staff and ensure staff support for Quaker Life Council committees. The director will also hold a portfolio of direct program and engagement work related to yearly meeting-wide initiatives and volunteer cohesion.
The director of communications will be responsible for the yearly meeting’s storytelling with an approach that combines relationship building and making our work and witness known. The director will be responsible for ensuring all of our communication channels have a consistent and inclusive message which speaks to the faith and is true to our strategic direction, commitment to anti-racism, and focus on addressing the climate crisis. The director will carry a portfolio of direct communications work as well.
Finally, the work of development and fundraising will shift back into being the only focus of a director of development position. Recently, development and communications responsibilities have been held by a single associate secretary position, but it has become much too large a portfolio for one person to manage. The new director of development role will be responsible for the Annual Fund (contributions by individuals), Covenants (contributions by meetings), and projects that raise money to support the work of the yearly meeting. This position will report to the general secretary.
These changes decrease the number of executive positions and increase our capacity for direct work supporting program and communications. The changes have little impact on the budget and on the number of staff we have. Each of these shifts is staged over the course of the next six to nine months with overlaps in the incoming and outgoing positions to support a smooth transition. Refer to the following timeline for details.
- A highly experienced interim communications manager came on board in mid-February with time to meet and learn from Grace.
- The director of development position was posted on February 11th.
- Grace moved on to her next professional adventure February 18th.
- The associate general secretary position will be posted by the beginning of March, ensuring time to overlap with Zachary before he leaves at the end of June.
- After the associate general secretary position is in place, we will post the director of program position which may also have time to overlap slightly with Zachary.
- When the associate general secretary and director of program are fully onboard we will post the position of permanent director of communications.
Staging the changes like this also allows us to evaluate each change as we go to determine if any adjustments are needed.
This plan was reviewed and threshed by the council and yearly meeting clerks, staff and the Personnel Committee. It was shared with the council members as well. The questions and comments of all of these people sharpened the plan.
Friends who would like to know more or who have questions are invited to meet with Christie, on Thursday, March 3, 2020 at 7pm via Zoom
Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash