Staffing Update: YAF Coordinator Position Reinstated

General Secretary

Note: This news was originally announced to the gathered body at Continuing Sessions on March 25, 2017.

After listening to the leadership of the Young Adult Friends community, responding to the questions they asked me, and considering funding sources, I’ve revised the new staffing structure to keep the Young Adult Friends Coordinator. The position will be decoupled from the youth programs, will remain part of the Program & Religious Life department, and align with the community engagement focus.

The position will be funded for the next two fiscal years (through August 2019) with restricted money, which includes applying to the Travel and Witness Granting Group (formerly the Friends Institute Granting Group) for funding, as I’ve been encouraged to do by members of the Granting Committee and granting staff. In response to specific requests from the YAF community, during the next two years visioning about the future of the YAF coordinator position will take place in close collaboration with members of the YAF Community and a staff person trusted by that community.

One of the things that I heard consistently from young adults is that, elements of the YAF program seem similar to the other youth programs, much of the structure of the community, and the work of the coordinator, is significantly different.  In making the changes in youth and young adult programs, the goal was to move toward a model of flexibility designed to meet needs as they evolve while maintaining the standard programs that participants rely on. Young Adults pointed out how this is what they are currently doing.

When I moved forward with changing the staffing structure, I had less information than I believed I did. Some Friends have particularly made the point to me how painful it was for this to come as a surprise, after having worked so hard to reinstate this position after the last staff restructuring in 2011. I was too hasty in laying down the YAF staff position. I am sorry for causing pain, disruption in the YAF community, and adding to the feeling of not being valued. I also deeply regret losing Elizabeth Piersol Schmidt to another organization as a result of this decision. Elizabeth has been a stable and meaningful presence for the YAF program and PYM staff community, and although the position will remain, a staffing change will impact the course of the YAF program in this transition. I have long had the experience that our corporate worship and business is both energized and grounded by young adults who bring a passion as well as a high regard for right order. I look forward to seeing them at yearly meeting events as well as hearing stories from their YAF-specific programs.

Christie Duncan-Tessmer
PYM General Secretary