Children & Families Facilitator: Mars Hohenstein (they/them)
Mars grew up in the care of Frankford Meeting, and has worked with children in a variety of settings including leading the First Day program for children there, and as a teaching assistant at Frankford Friends School. A native Philadelphian, Mars earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Math from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Mars is described by the people who know them as someone who is great with children, makes authentic connections and space for others to share, shines on a team, and is both creative and organized. Mars shared with us that, “Quakerism plays a huge part in how I move through the world. Diversity has also been a core value of my communities and it is often something that I carry with me as a genderqueer individual.”
Children & Families Assistant: Crystal Hershey (she/her)
Crystal is a member of Mount Holly Meeting, and a civil engineer with Catania Engineering Associates, a civil engineering firm in Delaware County. Crystal earned her Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Widener University. Since her own youth, Crystal has worked with children in many Quaker settings: as a camp counselor at Haddonfield Friends School, a volunteer with the Friends General Conference (FGC) annual Gathering’s Children’s Program, a First Day School teacher at Mount Holly Meeting, and a planner and leader of the Tri-Quarter Gathering of Friends Children’s Program. She also volunteered with PYM Children’s Sessions at many Annual Sessions! Crystal describes herself as a caring person with a positive spirit who loves working with children because of their energy and excitement; she is a positive role model in the lives of PYM kids!
Middle School Friends Co-Facilitator: Elizabeth Croce (she/her)
Since 2016, Elizabeth has served the Middle School Friends program, first as Assistant and now co-Facilitator. Elizabeth graduated from Guilford College in 2015 with a double major in Religious Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as a minor in Quaker Studies, and has more recently earned her Masters of Education (PreK-4) from Chestnut Hill College. She has worked as a Quaker Voluntary Service fellow in Germantown Friends School’s Community Involvement Office where she taught 7th grade Quakerism and coordinated service opportunities. She also held positions as an assistant teacher in 4th grade and Kindergarten classrooms at GFS, John B. Kelly public school, and currently teaches at Greene Towne Montessori School. Elizabeth is a member of Orlando Monthly Meeting in SEYM. She seeks to create a spiritually grounded, exciting, and fun program with MSF!
Middle School Friends Co-Facilitator: Kristin Simmons (she/her)
Kristin comes to the MSF program with a background in education and social work, and has worked with a variety of schools and non-profits in various capacities. She is a member of Old Haverford Monthly Meeting, along with her spouse, Tim, and two daughters. She is her meeting’s recording clerk, serves as Clerk of the Worship and Ministry Committee, and assists with the First Day School. Kristin shares that she is, “grateful for the supportive spiritual community that my family has found in Old Haverford.” She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. Kristin currently works as a group therapist facilitating social skills groups for children on the autism spectrum. Her favorite activities are reading, hiking, camping, and theater, and she loves to spend time with family and friends.
Middle School Friends Assisant: Alix Vallery (she/her, they/them)
Alix brings to PYM Youth Programs deep experience volunteering with MSF and more than ten years in mentoring and teamwork positions. Alix earned a B.A. in Culinary Arts from The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, and in addition to her background as a chef, is a certified SafeServ Food Handler. She has a passion for photography, crafts, and nature walks and a love of physical and athletic activity — which has enabled her to create spontaneous outdoor activities and keep MSF moving! Alix is known to Middle School Friends as an energetic and humorous presence, who is good at making them feel comfortable in being authentically themselves. Alix cares deeply about not only the growth of the MSF community as a whole, but also the individual growing minds in this community, “that will shape our future.”
Young Friends Program Facilitator: Olivia Chalkley (she/her)
Olivia’s work with Young Friends is grounded in her respect for and trust in young people, and her interest in Quaker process as a grounding aspect of the program. She believes in building community, leading with integrity, and bringing the gift of playfulness to her work with youth. Olivia is a graduate of Guilford College, where she earned her degree in English Literature with minors in Community & Justice Studies and Quaker Studies. She was the recipient of the Edward Flud Burrows Scholarship awarded to students who have demonstrated leadership in the areas of peace studies, racial justice, and the elimination of homophobia. She has served Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association (SAYMA) as the Junior Yearly Meeting Coordinator, and for many years was on staff at Opequon Quaker Camp in Baltimore Yearly Meeting as a counselor, administrative staff, and the Assistant Director. She attends West Philly Friends Meeting.
Young Friends Program Assistant: Aeryn Luminkith (she/her, ze/zir)
Aeryn’s experience with young people includes working with high school students as a photography teacher, tutoring in a non-profit youth center, and LGBTQ advocacy work with non-profit organizations in Philadelphia. Aeryn brings her warmth and concern for inclusive youth community, and her interest in creating a balance in programming between playful and grounded energy. She has a deep appreciation for Quaker beliefs and values and the Quaker commitment to social justice and equality. She strongly believes in supporting youth leadership and emotional development through fostering environments of mutual respect, understanding, and equal opportunities.