The American Friends Service Committee will soon be picking its new General Secretary. On its website, the date for submitting resumes is late in March. Presumably it will be a few months after that before a final selection is announced. My guess would be they’d want to make it in time for summer, so the new person could make a grand tour of yearly meetings and the FGC Gathering, to be introduced to Friends at large.
But if there is still a lot of grinding of wheels yet to be done, I don’t think it’s too early to handicap the process. In fact, I’m ready right now to predict the outcome.
I predict that the next General Secretary of the AFSC will be:
I first met Pettus a few years ago when he visited and spoke to Baltimore yearly Meeting. He was introduced then as the Diretor of the AFSC’s Mid-Atlantic regional office in Baltimore. Even then, I could see he was a likely candidate for elevation, and when he was soon moved up to the main office in Philadelphia, my antennae quivered ever more noisily.
A few months ago, Pettus joined the board of Wimington College, a small Quaker school in western Ohio. A college press release about his selection included lots of detail about his career. Here’s a snippet:
Pettus is deputy general secretary for programs of the American Friends Service Committee. . . .
In addition to his previous work as AFSC’s regional director and special assistant to the general secretary for restructuring, Pettus is a former vice president for academic affairs/provost and president at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
Also, he was a faculty member and college administrator at Virginia State University, where he served as a department chairperson, academic dean and vice president for administration.
Pettus is a certified trainer of managing conflict in the workplace and completed a management development program at Harvard University.
He holds a Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Ill., and is a member of the Pendle Hill Board of Trustees and a former trustee of Wilmington (Del.) Friends School.
He also is a member of the Wilmington (Del.) Monthly Meeting.
The “restructuring” in his AFSC resume is a key word, in my view. AFSC has reportedly been reduced to about half its previous size by the impact of the economic crash, so whoever has been managing that difficult transition would either be the scapegoat for all the internal resentments it must have generated, or the most likely candidate to take the helm and complete it. My vote is for the latter.
Pettus also has many other apt qualifications: he’s black, a card-carrying Quaker, and has much executive experience at Cheyney University, a school started by Quakers over a century ago to educate freed blacks. And as a former college president, he must also have done a lot of fundraising, which will surely be a big part of the AFSC’s top job.
So that’s my prediction. We should know soon whether I’ve guessed right.
His task will be to renew and re-polish a very tarnished and battered brand.
No, no, not THAT one!