Category Archives: Passing the Torch(es)

AFSC Restructuring Plan (Draft of April 16, 2021)

16 April 2021

Memo to Staff and the Board from the General Secretary on behalf of the Leadership Team:

Thoughts and Recommendations for Change and Restructuring to Support Strategic Plan Implementation

(for Seasoning)

I.  Background


Since the release of the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan, AFSC’s leadership team, governance members, regional management teams (international and US), staff, and consultants have been engaged in a process of deep discernment to ensure that the organization’s systems and structures are aligned with the ambitious goals outlined in the Plan, that the organization has the human and financial resources needed to execute on the plan, and that any needed changes are pursued in spirit of equity, collaboration, anti- racism, and anti-oppression. To ensure transparency, I have followed the process I laid out to you when the Strategic Plan was completed in collaboration with the Coordinating Team for Restructuring Consultations (CTRC) over the past six months.

I have been humbled to serve in the role of General Secretary throughout this process, as it has provided a daily reminder of the thoughtfulness and compassion of my colleagues, and the seriousness with which they take their obligations to each other, to the institution, and to Quaker belief and practice.

This memo aspires to synthesize the thinking of the many stakeholders who have weighed in, and to make affirmative recommendations from the leadership team for reorganizing AFSC so that we are well- positioned to achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan. I hope that this memo evinces the depth of our engagement with the many perspectives that have been offered up throughout this process, including:

  • RoadMap Consulting’s recent report and PowerPoint deck
  • The Inclusive Cohesive and Just Task Team (ICJTT) report
  • Memo from US staff, dated October 2020
  • Memo from IP regional directors, dated 2018
  • Materials on alternate program structures submitted by USCG, dated March 2021

Each of these documents, as well as countless formal and informal conversations and consultations, have been treated with all due seriousness as the leadership team has formulated the proposed new direction. The leadership team has met for more than 40 hours over the last few weeks alone in order to come to consensus on most of these recommendations. We have also met on several instances with regional leadership in both the US and International programs to ensure their voice is incorporated in our thinking. The leadership team has not taken its charge lightly.

Throughout this process, the team has grappled with a range of priorities surfaced by staff and governance volunteers, including the need to advance organization-wide cohesion and equity; to maintain strong roots in the communities with which we work; to create systems and resources that allow both IP and US programs to create systems-level impact; to mitigate undue stress, trauma, and transitions for staff; and to streamline the role of volunteers and Friends as part of programming and governance. The team has also been guided by an appreciative inquiry approach and the idea of building on what already works.

Throughout this process, I have sought to remain true to our commitment to ensuring a vibrant and sustainable organization. New ideas must be consistent with our philanthropic resources and the goal of balancing our budget—something that we have not always focused on over the past 15 years, to our detriment. AFSC will need to continue to exercise care whenever decisions that are made create significant new obligations.

These proposals are my current recommendations, and I expect to receive significant feedback over the course of April and May 2021. I also expect that some of our conversations this spring will evolve some of the ideas that set forward below, and I welcome the opportunity to refine this plan further. In line with our By Laws, the Board of Directors will approve any unit changes resulting from this restructuring.

II.  Executive Summary

I am proposing the following new direction, the details of which are laid out below in section VI. Highlights include:

  • A New Unit to Drive Cohesion: I am recommending the creation of a new unit, and accompanying AGS, to focus on global planning, collaboration, and learning. This unit would bolster intersectional work and provide deeper methodological support throughout the To mitigate the risk that moving to issue area tracks in the US could create new silos, this unit would allow us to invest in learning, collaboration, and other work that is in-between issue areas to ensure that this intersectional work is amplified where possible. And, with regard to global cohesion, although there would be distinct operating models for US and IP, this unit would serve as a platform for us to come together more intentionally. I explain further below why I believe, at this time, it is not opportune to unify all US and international programs into a homogenous structure, and why this new unit would be better suited for ensuring cohesion between US and IP. A new position aiming to strengthen community and partner relationships, as articulated in our Strategic Plan’s internal organization goal, would be housed within this unit. The unit would also oversee a revitalized Office of Policy Advocacy and a research function.
  • Organizing US Programs Around Strategic Plan Goals: I recommend restructuring programs in the US around the three themes of the Strategic Plan: Just Migration, Just Peace, and Just This plan would require us to build out three US thematic units, with core and embedded staff that can focus on advocacy, campaigning, communications, M&E, and overall coordination with our local, state, and national work in these areas. This approach will seek to ensure that the US operates holistically as one country. This structure also will allow more equitable collaboration to advance our global cohesion goals. The new approach will retain regional staffing to ensure continued staff support and supervision, along with community and Quaker relations. Further discussion is needed in the coming month to make this implementation plan clearer.
  • Organizing International Programs Around Strategic Plan Goals and Bolstering Operational Support: To ensure alignment with the Strategic Plan, I propose to phase in at least two senior level program or “thematic” directors on peacebuilding and migration who would develop the strategy, coordinate with regional and country-level directors on country-level outcomes and work closely with their counterparts in the US programs to develop shared The majority of International Programs focus on programs that fit into the Just Peace goal, with a smaller portion in the Just migration goal; there is an openness for IP to also do more Just Economies work but this may take more time to build out. I acknowledge IP’s model would be different from the one in the US which I think is appropriate given that they operate in different contexts and face different barriers and opportunities to achieving their goals. The majority of IP programs are funded through European government donors that have specific geographic mandates and requirements. AFSC has been able to grow our European funding over the past years and aims to continue this growth to meet our sustainability goals. To meet the complex and specific needs related to global compliance, regional policy goals, legal and financial management, security, political and cultural contextualization, and registrations needs that our programs and donors require, I recommend that we retain the four international regional offices. I also recommend that we bolster the IP operations to better meet these demands.
  • A Cross-Cutting Focus on Engagement: There are a number of stakeholder groups—young people, Quaker meetings and churches, alumni, activists, member of communities who live in the places where we work—who are essential partners in achieving impact. Likewise, program staff have asked that we continue to deepen our work with impacted communities in ways that are authentic and not extractive. The proposed reorganization is designed to facilitate bringing these stakeholders into the organization in strategic ways that are supportive of our programmatic goals and honors the difference in roles.
  • Clarifying Governance and Staff/Management Roles: The LT has strongly encouraged the Board Working Group on the Role of Governance in Program Decision Making (BWGPDM) to make a cleaner distinction between governance and management/staff roles with staff having greater authority over program and budgeting decision-making. We also confirmed our commitment to working with the Board to build stronger engagements with communities and partners at all levels of organizational life . The BWGPDM, which I serve on, has been working in parallel on a thoughtful set of recommendations which be released for seasoning shortly.
  • Participatory Decision-Making and Matrix Management: I am committed to creating new leadership configurations that underpin my vision for more decentralized and transparent decision-making structures and anticipate that they will be ready by the fall. I am excited to see the beginnings of such approaches in the US and IP program reorganization proposals – both are suggesting staff council and teams to facilitate discernment and participation. The IP model proposes a staff council that can serve as a mechanism for staff to bring forward recommendations and ideas, review global systems, and address human resources concerns and other grievances, etc. The new structure also contains an intention for creating deep collaboration embedded through matrix management/dotted line approaches, explained Appendix II in draft form.
  • Transitioning and Mitigating Harm: We hope to work in a phased way over the course of the ten years of the Strategic Plan, to ensure that changes are implemented thoughtfully and carefully. We are currently in a transitional year (FY21), to be followed by a three-year program cycle in years 2-5 (FY22-25). I recognize that some of the proposed changes would cause disruption to normal ways of working and so would plan, especially in the US, to take particular care to attend to relationships and be supportive of program staff for whom there might be possible new ways of working together. We have outlined in great detail below our affirmative approach to being an anti-racist and anti-oppression organization and looking to mitigate harm wherever possible.

I recognize that these are substantial changes, and that we must pursue them at a pace that is methodical and that allows for regular reflection as well as input from stakeholders throughout the organization.

Additionally, financial projections for the proposed new direction are still in progress, and we must allow for refinement as the specifics become clearer. For all of these reasons discussed above, we will plan to have an initial review at the end of FY22 and explicit in-depth assessment after two years, at the end of FY23, to ensure that new elements that we are introducing into AFSC are evaluated for their efficacy.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback on this proposed new direction and look forward to working together to evolve AFSC into an organization that is well-positioned to reach the aims of the new Strategic Plan.

III. The Purpose of These Recommendations – What We Are Solving For


The leadership team has engaged in this process with the goal of setting a new direction for the organization, attentive to the points raised by staff and other stakeholders over the past three years as well as to our own experiences. Synthesizing recent findings and recommendations from stakeholders across the organization, we have identified a set of key organization-wide aspirations that we seek to make progress on through our proposed directional shift:

  • Promoting a Unified and Cohesive AFSC: The new direction is designed to break down silos, to create a sense of focus and shared purpose throughout the organization, and to ensure that programs collectively contribute to systems-level impact. However, because the contexts within which staff are working vary widely, it does not attempt to create a one-size-fits-all set of systems, structures, and expectations, but rather to create the conditions for all staff to fully leverage their talents towards our shared goals.
  • Leaning into our Strategic Plan: AFSC’s 2020-2030 Strategic Plan is well-considered and has broad organizational buy-in. We have an obligation to ensure that organizational structures support the goals outlined in it. This proposed new direction aligns with and advances the Strategic Plan and takes seriously what will be needed to achieve it.
  • Supporting Equitable and Strategic Resource Allocation: Consistent with Organizational Development Goal 5 from the Strategic Plan (“Build internal practices for inclusion, cohesion, accountability, and justice”), the proposed new direction aims to ensure that financial decision-making addresses the persistent disparities throughout the organization, including those between US programs and IP programs. We will also seek to direct resources towards work that can achieve the greatest and most enduring positive impact. We cannot rely on history and legacy alone as guides for how resources should be used.
  • Balancing Sustainability and Innovation: To ensure that AFSC remains vital, the proposed new direction seeks to develop space and capacity for continued innovation and learning, as well as mechanisms for evaluating, sustaining, and scaling the pilots that demonstrate the greatest promise.
  • Creating Strategic Program Cycles: With Program Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (PMEL) integrated into programs, we would be better prepared to evaluate the efficacy of programs, including amplifying successful work, refining work in response to new opportunities, and shifting work that is not achieving impact. Part of making these decisions involves creating realistic time horizons for impact. Currently, much of our effort around planning and budgeting is focused on an annual process that must be redone every year, with other regions working from a three-year cycle. The leadership team is proposing three-year and ten-year cycles accompanied by more focused PMEL, which would allow us to take a longer view of how a program or body of work could develop and evolve, to be clearer about the systems-level change we intend to achieve, and to have a higher level of accountability to communities, to partners, and to the changes we are working towards.
  • Clarifying Lines of Authority: Clear lines of authority and decision-making structures can reduce stress, prevent processes like budgeting from dragging on, ensure accountability, and allow for inclusive and consultative program development without the fear that the core goals of programming will be AFSC’s current structure has a number of unclear or overlapping lines of authority, and I have sought to provide precision wherever possible, particularly where financial decisions are concerned. We also seek to build a culture where colleagues are working together in shared planning and decision-making.
  • Decentralizing Our Work: The new direction is an attempt to shift away from both the perception and the practical reality that Philadelphia is the “home office.” By empowering staff in offices across the globe to set and operate from multi-year plans and budgets, giving them greater access to logistical and technical support, and creating clearer pathways for engaging with governance, local communities, and other stakeholders, we can position all staff to succeed. We would prioritize improving global systems, controls, and infrastructure so that staff have what they need to operate efficiently and effectively. New staff, including program directors, would not need to be hired in We would seek staff with international experience, and recruit outside of the US for new IP hires. This should also reflect the new reality, quickened by the pandemic, that many staff are already being hired outside of Philadelphia. We should be speaking about “Mission Work/Program” and “Program Support” as opposed to “Program” and “Central Office.”
  • Encouraging Deep Collaboration: Even as AFSC has consistently worked towards greater collaboration, much of the implementation of this priority has focused only on information sharing and one-off projects. The new direction is designed to encourage more holistic, long-term collaborations that advance the goals of all stakeholders involved, by strengthening a culture of collaboration and creating pathways for collaborative teams to participate in joint planning and decision making.

IV.  The Principles of This Process


Throughout this process, the leadership team has strived to adhere to a set of principles that honor AFSC’s Quaker values and make space for divergent ideas. The principles include:

  • Recognizing Our Biases: We acknowledge that no one is truly objective, and that each of us brings our own biases. Throughout this process, we have paid particular attention to ODG 5, including identifying and acknowledging how our biases affect our thinking and attempting to disentangle these biases from our decisions, and using the Anti-Racism/Oppression Toolkit to hold ourselves As we proceed together into a process that may be contentious and messy, we invite all stakeholders to acknowledge their biases and the ways in which they shape their thinking.
  • Making AFSC a Truly Global Organization: In both its decision-making and program implementation, AFSC has too often functioned as a US-based and US-centered organization that runs some programs internationally and brings in some international perspectives to provide In line with the Strategic Plan, we are aiming through this new direction to move AFSC into being a truly global organization, while recognizing that it will take time and a light touch to accomplish. This work cannot be imposed from the top down, and the new AGS would function as a facilitator to help instigate promising new areas.
  • Building on What Works: AFSC has a number of effective, high-impact strategies and processes, and deep relationships with community and grassroots stakeholders. AFSC also has a highly talented and passionate staff. As we consider changes, we must preserve and build on our strengths and create opportunities for existing staff to either thrive in their current roles or adapt to new roles. As restructuring occurs, existing staff who are in positions that are shifting would be considered for newly developed roles.
  • New Responsibilities Require New Capacity and Support: As we empower staff to take on new and expanded responsibilities, we must dedicate the time, professional development resources, and staffing capacity to ensure that they are able to thrive in their new roles. As we make changes, we must ensure that the resources are in place to sustain new strategies and structures.
  • Building and Maintaining Relationships as Close to the Work as Possible: If AFSC can weave networks of supportive relationships among staff, people impacted by our program work, coalition partners, key institutional actors, subject matter experts, and Quakers, our work will be both high- impact and accountable to impacted communities.
  • Transparency Builds Trust: Throughout the organization, all stakeholders, from staff to leadership to governance, have a responsibility to keep each other apprised of our decisions and the impact that those decisions will have. The more information we are able to share with each other, the more buy-in and trust we will be able to engender.
  • A Commitment to System-Level Impacts: Given our size, scope, and charge, we have an obligation to move beyond addressing the symptoms of challenges, and towards addressing the roots of these challenges within a justice framework. Our programs must be designed, staffed, and evaluated against this more ambitious standard.
  • Recognition of the Differences of IP and US: The new direction is designed to allow US programs and IP programs to have greater, more equitable voices in the organization’s future, to allow them flexibility for organizing themselves and resourcing their work, and to improve coordination, learning, and communication between the two without forcing a top-down or symmetrical approach with these two sides of the house.


  • Pathways to Participation: Even as some of the existing structures for impacted communities and volunteers (Quakers and others) play a role in AFSC’s work may change, the reorganization would maintain a multitude of clear and intentional pathways for engendering strong relationships and high-impact participation. This also means ensuring that lines between governance, advisory and staff roles and responsibilities are clearly understood.
  • Creating Space and Capacity for Creation and Innovation: New ideas and models will not emerge consistently unless staff have dedicated space for “research and development,” apart from their day-to-day responsibilities. The new direction aspires to build opportunities for innovation and incubation into AFSC’s core structures.
  • Building in Flexibility: Much of AFSC’s work occurs within crises and other emerging situations which can disrupt program plans or create security threats to staff and partners. AFSC’s work must be organized in such a way as to enable it to shift as needs and conditions evolve.
  • Considering Long-Term Sustainability: Achieving justice and peace is the work of generations. We must ensure that AFSC is staffed, structured, and resourced for the long-term, and that decisions today position us for success tomorrow.
  • Supporting Staff Needs: We have heard directly from staff about the multi-fold things that are needed for them to do effective social justice and peacebuilding work and aspire to meet as many of these needs as resources allow. Our most immediate focus is on finance, progressing towards others as quickly as is  feasible.

V. Our Commitment to Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression, Participatory Decision-Making, and Mitigating Harm


The proposed shifts offer opportunities to strengthen AFSC’s commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression, both within the organization’s systems and structures and in the impact that is achieved as a result of the organization’s work. The leadership team has had deep discussions on our expectations for equitable outcomes from an anti-racism/oppression lens. We have used the Anti-Racism/Oppression Toolkit, and we have simultaneously made every effort to adhere to AFSC’s existing anti-racism and anti- oppression principles throughout this process, carefully considering a set of key questions to ensure that our work reflects Quaker principles. The full Anti-Racism/Oppression Toolkit is jointly developed with the BWGPDM and the CTRC and will accompany the final recommendations the Board.

In addition to using the toolkit in our deliberations and trying to identify concrete ways to increase participatory decision-making in structural ways, we also have recognized that we need to identify and mitigate harm at AFSC, through this process and beyond. Although there is universal consensus on the organization’s commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression, and the ideal of growing areas of participatory decision-making, many of our surveys and stakeholder comments indicate that insufficient attention and resources are being dedicated to realizing these commitments or that the leadership team and Board are not being ambitious enough in realizing our ideals. So, we are trying to be explicit about the things we hope to do.

Some of our priorities to ensure equitable outcomes have included:

  • We are in the final stages of hiring a new Director for Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DDEI) director who will serve AFSC in a senior leadership capacity, and will plan to hire a DEI associate, and investing in the gender and racial justice areas through staffing or consultancies. We are also committed to setting up system that encourages the creation of affinity groups.
  • Through the reorganizing process we are ensuring that we pay greater attention to IP staff than we have done historically and making sure our process does not mute the voices and concerns of IP We have provided language-specific sessions along with translation for some of the early feedback sessions and the AGS-IP and RDs have provided regional conversations with local country staff so they can better understand and interpret the restructuring process. We will continue to provide similar support during the presentation and feedback sessions for the proposed new structure and will invest in future translation and language-specific meetings in the future. And, a future IP council of staff can operate similarly to US unions to raise and address organizational concerns. This memo will also be translated.
  • We believe that maintaining current staff is critical to AFSC’s success. The leadership team would prioritize keeping, incorporating, and aligning current staff into the new structure as much as possible, with the understanding that there may be some instances where it will not be possible. We also would hope to provide generous layoff packages, post-employment support, and enough transition time for any impacted staff.
  • The new structure would align to the new programmatic areas, which would require some programs and staff to transition into new supervisory relationships and groupings. We would build planning and transition time into this process so these new relationships and the planning process can occur with minimal impact.
  • We have made preliminary recommendations to the Board Working Group on the Role of Governance in Program Decision Making about our ideas to shift programmatic decision-making to staff from Executive Committees in the US and IP. This would give thematic program directors and their teams greater autonomy along with heightened responsibility and authority.
  • The new structure would enhance communities of color’s participation in program planning and decision-making by strengthening and supporting community support advisory groups. These groups would be an essential component for a broader and stronger volunteer and partnership pipeline that would infuse the voices of local communities throughout  AFSC.
  • The new structure is designed to enhance staff access and engagement with leadership and organization-wide decision-making by having more dotted-line relationships and accountability to lessen the distance between staff and leadership.

There are some calls for more radical reorganizing and “flattening” of AFSC. My current view is that an organization as complex as AFSC, which requires sophisticated global programmatic, legal, financial, and fundraising compliance, demands some level of hierarchy and related accountability.

Finally, I continue to hear concerns about the Board of Directors being too far removed from staff and programs, and concern that the composition of the board is in direct conflict with our organizational commitment to lifting community voices. I am encouraged to see this matter emerging for discussion on the upcoming Board agenda. We also hope to build on the ICJTT report engagement process to begin reinstituting more meetings between staff and Board as soon as it is feasible to do so in person.

The new direction that is being proposed does not foreclose on the processes initiated by the Inclusive Cohesive and Just Task Team – ICJTT, and indeed is designed to deliver proactive solutions to many of the sources of stress and trauma that have been identified. Through greater clarity, equity, and support for staff members, a realistic assessment of what any individual staff member can reasonably be expected to accomplish, an enhanced investment in DEI functions, a toolkit for advancing our commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression, and greater autonomy for on-the-ground staff, we can begin to concretely address the issues that are being raised. I believe that this can be the beginning of a long-term effort to become a healthier organization that does not create trauma for staff and does not replicate past harm.

VI.  The Proposal for Revised Roles and Responsibilities


See Appendix I for a summary of the proposed structure.

The leadership team believes the following modifications to the staffing structure, roles, and responsibilities would advance the goals outlined in this memo and address many of the issues raised by other stakeholders in recent months. To be clear, regional presence in the US and IP would look differently and serve different roles. Though we recognize that having distinct structures in US and IP programs may run counter to the notion of organizational cohesion, we see it as the most effective means of streamlining decision making, creating equity between program areas, and empowering staff around budgeting and program planning.

As a means of encouraging cross-unit cohesion and programmatic autonomy, the proposed reorganization incorporates a matrix reporting structure, including dotted line reporting for a number of roles. Described in detail in Appendix II, dotted line reporting would break down silos between departments, reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, and formalize much of the collaboration that already occurs. In practice, some staff would solid-line report to a manager within their unit responsible for performance review (consistent with union Collective Bargaining Agreements for many US staff), considering job advancements, and making any changes to job descriptions, and dotted-line report to a secondary manager on a program team who would provide feedback and assign tasks in a more limited managerial role.

Developing and Staffing AFSC as a Truly Global Organization


Now more than ever, and especially after experiencing the devastation of a global pandemic, it is clear that global communities not only share intersectional struggles but are deeply interdependent. The AFSC/FCNL Shared Security Framework further underpins this interdependence. AFSC’s shared history has shown that we are strongest when US and International programs work in unison. Our shared analysis underpinned in our Strategic Plan presents compelling arguments for working globally and presents a whole-of-organization plan around three programmatic focus areas.

Global cohesion, while an underlying organizational premise, does not require that US and IP programs mirror each other. There is a recognition that both function within distinct operating models responding to varying contexts and utilizing different methodologies. In the US, staff are rooted in communities and often do direct implementation. In IP, staff also are rooted in community, but often implement the work through strategic partnerships, amplifying and strengthening civil society organizations closest to the conflict or oppression. IP programs and staff are mostly grant funded by European donors, which necessitates global policies, systems, and regular audits.

International Programs have been using a program cycle process to make decisions about when to continue, change, devolve, or lay down work as a core part of evaluations. Staff are often hired on contracts that correspond to a large grant and are often 100% funded by that income stream. The four IP regions have worked collaboratively on common strategies through the Shared Security program and the Dialogue and Exchange Program (DEP). The structure of the International Programs Executive Committee (IPEC) has supported a global holistic look at International Programs work.

At present, areas of US and IP collaboration are few and found primarily when US foreign policies are a focus of our influencing work (e.g., Palestine/Israel). To be true to the goals of the Strategic Plan, and to leverage our unique strengths and wide-ranging presence domestically and globally, AFSC would be intentional about identifying opportunities for joint work across issues and global regions.

Intentionality requires ensuring systems, resources, and structures align in support of this new direction. Our US and IP teams worked diligently together and produced compelling shared objectives. Many intersections were discovered along the way: how we address peacebuilding in the US and its relationship to state/national structural violence; militarism and our global analysis on conflict; how climate change and conflict are drivers of migration; and how xenophobic policies impact countries’ response to migrants in the US and around the globe.

I propose to create a new organizational unit tasked with creating opportunities for shared planning and programming and learning among issues and global regions. The position of Associate General Secretary for Global Planning, Collaboration, and Learning (AGS-GPCL) would be introduced and is considered a priority.

The AGS would lead AFSC programming in line with the Strategic Plan and, in addition to leading the collaborative initiatives, would consolidate organizational programming in the US and IP and have oversight over Global Policy, Advocacy and Research, and Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation.

Specifically, the AGS would:

  • Create spaces across US/IP programs for the development of shared analysis, goals, and objectives along program themes.
  • Incubate new collaborative programming (e.g., migration and cross-border US/LAC collaboration) that builds on existing areas of work.
  • With new capacities in place, lead the development of cross-cutting analysis, learning and programming on climate justice, gender justice, racial justice, and youth work.
  • Create DEP initiatives to encourage learning across issues and contexts (e.g., a Black Freedom and Palestinian justice movement exchange).
  • Serve as a technical expert on collaborating, learning, and adapting, and build organizational knowledge and capacity in this area.
  • Oversee the Office of Public Policy and Advocacy, which would become the Office of Policy Research and Advocacy (OPRA).
  • Oversee a new technical Research team, possibly incorporating streams of existing work throughout AFSC.
  • Oversee the PMEL team.


Our goal is that the new AGS-GPCL would be resourced with a budget to allow for convenings, DEPs, joint initiatives, and a provision for administrative support.

Restructuring US Programs to Accomplish the Strategic Plan


The proposal structures US programs around the three themes outlined in the strategic plan: Just Migration, Just Peace, and Just Economies. With this transition, we intend to continue to be responsive and accountable to local communities, while we move to foster wider and deeper structural changes at local and national levels.

To that end, we propose to create three thematic units led by new directors that will support the three thematic teams comprised of local programs. These teams would use participatory decision-making to develop each theme’s overarching strategies and approaches toward structural change. The thematic program directors (PDs) would:

  • Ensure thematic work aligns with the Strategic Plan.
  • Lead thematic plan development and implementation.
  • Lead a process to develop and monitor each theme’s budget.
  • Lead fundraising efforts for thematic work in partnership with the advancement team.
  • Coordinate a pool of funds for each team to implement collaborative action for structural change.
  • Work with their IP counterparts to identify areas of potential collaboration and to streamline coordination across IP and US.
  • Be externally facing and serve as organizational spokespeople in national media, convenings and forums.

All existing US programs would be bolstered by the support provided by both regional and thematic support staff. Regional management would continue to support local programs through staff supervision, staff development, and the provision of local operational and administrative support. They would also serve as important liaisons for maintaining and building relationships with community partners, and Quaker monthly and yearly meetings.

We aim to build out these thematic teams as soon as possible, hiring PDs and embedding existing staff from the communications, grants and advocacy units who will provide the teams with additional support later this year. As funding allows, each team would also phase in campaign coordinators and planning/monitoring/learning support staff. We have also proposed to shift a small number of staff to different units in support of organizational structural changes. Written proposals of these possible shifts will be submitted to the applicable unions by Monday, April 19.

The challenges of injustice, violence, and oppression are interconnected, so we need coordinated approaches. So that new silos are not created, a US Programs Council would be formed to give feedback on the US Programs budget, to identify and support cross-thematic collaborative efforts, and discuss how to use pooled funds. The Programs Council would involve both thematic and regional staff.

I see the US as one country, with coordinated work toward the strategic plan goals, and bolstered by regional presence to support staff and local relationships. Regional and thematic staff would maintain steady communication and close working relationships, so each US program and community would be supported well while we build up our capacity for coordinated structural change.

Building and Supporting International Programs


Though much discussion was given to the idea of organizing international programs solely by issue outcomes, I ultimately decided that it is neither desirable nor feasible, and am recommending instead that we add two thematic directors on peacebuilding and migration, while also retaining the regional leadership structure. This is best practice within INGOs and donor governments. Because much of IP funding comes through government donors that focus on specific regions, and because grants from these sources often require a senior level staff member associated with a specific region, a leadership structure with only thematic directors would likely lead to a sharp reduction in resources for IP programs.

Additionally, if the global trend of shrinking civil spaces continues, as we have seen most notably in Asia, AFSC regional staff may represent a critical foothold. Finally, some of our new work internationally, e.g., in Africa with the newly established Peace Action Hub, and hopefully in other locations as well, is being supported and organizing itself with regional advocacy goals, all of which requires a high level of geographic, regional coordination.

In the desired structure, Regional Directors would deepen their management of regional contextualization, leadership, visibility/outreach and networking in donor and INGO spaces. The RDs would be expected to be well versed in the overall organizational program goals and analysis within their region/countries and also the intersection between them. RDs would also be responsible for successful implementation of country and regional programs supported by the IP operational unit and significant, grant-related deliverables.

As AFSC seeks opportunities aligned to the Strategic Plan, such as the Horn of Africa Hub, and as civil space shrinks in some of the countries where we work, the regional offices become even more important for supporting research, programs, and partners where we do not have a physical office. To ensure alignment with the Strategic Plan, we would phase in at least two senior level program or “thematic” directors (PDs) on peacebuilding and migration, who would lead and develop strategy for international programs. We may phase in economic justice capability in time, as this is currently the least developed area of work in IP. The PDs would guide the thematic work developed at the regional and country-level and sign off on thematic priorities and outcomes. The PDs would work with their counterpart US program directors for Just Migration, Just Peace, and Just Economies, and would be able to streamline coordination across IP and US, co-manage the DEP program, create global proposals and support RDs and program staff on contextual analysis, proposal development and program content, and represent AFSC in international networks. The Peace Director would manage Under the Mask (one manager and/or fellow) and build out the Civic Rights portfolio globally. The Migration Director would have a Climate Justice focus as well.

In addition, while I am still open to discussion on reporting lines, I am proposing that the IP Policy and Advocacy staff who work in the US and globally remain in IP with a reaffirmed dotted line to OPRA. I have heard compelling arguments in support of identifying public education and advocacy coordinator (PEACs) as integral members of the IP regional program teams. The engagement of advocacy staff with their IP regional colleagues on a daily basis would ensure that the policy and advocacy positioning is locally grounded and regional and IP strategic priorities are centered. Often, these staff have been the bridge to AFSC’s most recognized collaborative work. I have also heard the importance of establishing stronger links between IP advocacy staff doing US foreign policy influencing work with our OPRA; this too is critical and should not be ignored.

The OPRA office and the LAC office have identified a need for a policy coordinator to focus on US/LAC advocacy around migration. This was a position that has been vacant for some time where strong collaborative work has occurred. In this plan, we would include a Policy Advocacy Coordinator under OPRA. The reporting relationships will be discussed in more depth this coming month, following which I intend to finalize. We do note that there can be greater efforts to reduce silos, and increase collaboration. There is a value in strengthening the relationship with OPRA through dotted line management and guidance on priority setting. We are proposing that advocacy staff have broader portfolios, adding thematic responsibilities to country and regional level work, and linking to critical initiatives outside of the U.S, such as the advocacy goals of the Africa Hub in Ethiopia and Brussels. IP policy staff should be active members of the IP and OPRA teams.

Corresponding to these program shifts, we also would prioritize, in the coming three years, building out an operations team to address the inequity of support that IP has received and also to enable programs to meet donor requirements. We remain in discussion as to the reporting structure, which could include reporting to IP, Operations Director, with a dotted line to technical functions to ensure that there is equitable and enhanced finance, HR, IT, and advancement support, or it could sit in the technical units with a dotted line to IP. This is still open to discussion.

IP programs would also make key adaptations to participate more fully on cross-organizational work and to ensure a level of equity in organizational and operational support. The net result would be clearer global policies/procedures that enable less centralized day-to-day controls, a better articulated model for systems changes in each region, and a high level of thematic expertise housed within each region.

To summarize, key proposed staffing changes or shifts include:

  • Establishing Two Thematic Program Director Positions, focusing on Just Peace and Just Migration: The PDs would guide program strategy for IP, supporting programs in thematic best practices, and guiding programmatic strategies and goals. The Peace Lead would manage Under the Mask (with one reporting manager and/or fellow) and build out the Civic Rights portfolio The Migration Lead would ideally be based in Europe with a climate justice focus, with work guided by our recent global Quaker statement on migration.
  • Shifting the RD Roles: Regional Directors would move towards managing regional contextualization, leadership, visibility/outreach, and networking in donor and in INGO spaces. The RDs and Country Representatives (CRs) would still be expected to work at the intersection of the program goals and would be responsible for successful implementation of significant grants deliverables, compliance, and programs supported by the IP operational unit.
  • IP Operations Unit: We would build out an IP-focused operations unit, including an IP Finance Manager, and IP HR Analyst, an IP Security Manger, and an IP Administration Officer, and we would embed an additional one-to-two development and communications staff to support the AGS/leads/RD to develop global media, communications, and proposals. The intention is to provide country and regional offices operational support needed to support strong program work. The first phase is creating strong global systems and the next phase would be assessing additional support needs at a country level. We are still in conversation about whether these staff would report to the IP Operations Director, with dotted line reporting to functional areas, or report to the functional areas and dotted line report to the IP Operations Director. We have a plan in April to discuss these scenarios more carefully.

While the shifts outlined for IP programs may not be as visibly disruptive as those to US programs, I am nevertheless committed to making them with sensitivity and thoughtfulness, and to ensuring that staff who are affected are given the support and resources that they need to thrive in new or shifting roles.

Policy Research and Advocacy


Our Strategic Plan urges us to challenge structural oppression. Challenging systems requires us to present and advocate for alternative solutions and to educate and influence decisionmakers toward the world we seek. To produce compelling alternatives, we need sound research and analysis grounded in the lived experiences of communities. Whether we are seeking local, state, federal or global systems change, we need to invest in building relationships with other networks and coalitions who share our vision. And, for AFSC to succeed in changing the hearts and minds of policymakers, we need a more robust and cross- organizational effort through a revitalized Office of Policy, Research, and Advocacy (OPRA).

Over time, the OPRA would increase capacities of issue-specific advocacy and policy coordinators, and it would also house our technical staff, and specialists, researchers, and senior fellows. OPRA’s mandate would be to effectively model policy impact and ensure that all program staff have access to the learning and expertise that the organization has developed, to strengthen global program staff’s connections with this work, and to allow for intentional investments in needed relationships with policymakers’ offices, coalition partners, program staff and key community partners, and other thought leaders.

The new OPRA would allow all advocacy positions within AFSC to have a common reporting line (solid or dotted), ensuring cohesion. This is especially important in the context of US state, federal, or foreign policies. Though we have the greatest footprint in the US and would therefore focus the greatest energy on the Office’s US-based work in the short term, building towards truly global capacity would be a key priority. For US programs, issue-based Advocacy Coordinators from the Office would be embedded in the newly established strategic program units to facilitate the process of coordinating with program staff who are engaged with impacted communities and contexts. As stated above in the IP section, we remain in discussion about the reporting lines of IP staff who conduct influencing work that includes the US and beyond (influencing multinationals, foreign countries, EU, African Union, peacebuilding community, etc.) and I will present a final decision in May. The Office also would coordinate closely with the Communications unit, which has been an essential part of OPPA’s success and is worthy of replication. Additionally, the OPRA office would serve as a critical direct interlocutor with the Quaker UN Office (QUNO) in New York.

Further, research in service to action has been a historic strength of AFSC, with the organization’s NARMIC (National Action and Research on the Military Industrial Complex) unit often cited as a positive example of impactful systemic change work because of this close integration. We will build on this model by expanding our office functions over time, to encompass a think tank-like role, drawing upon our organization’s global experience with communities and movements, and in close collaboration with our programs.

To launch a revitalized and effective version of this office would require the following staffing:

  • A Director for the Office of Policy, Research, and Advocacy to oversee the implementation of strategies, foster connections across issue and strategy buckets, and supervise staff. The OPRA Director will have a dotted line reporting relationship with the General
  • At least one advocacy coordinator for each strategic program area (Just Peace, Just Migration and Just Economies), phasing in additional staffing in time, with a scope of work encompassing strategic/national level thought leadership responding to local work as well as opportunities where our project/program work may not be so developed (e.g., federal budgets and militarism).
  • Issue-specific advocacy specialists and/or senior fellows working to accomplish particular program goals where AFSC has a unique niche and opportunity for impact (eg. Palestine/Israel). Depending on the issue on which they are working, those could have a dotted line relationship with the Director, though the reporting structure is still under
  • A research coordinator will form a team of specialists to be added gradually depending on program research priorities. The coordinator and team would develop initial research agendas in consultation with the program areas, with specialists pulling data from the local projects and feeding them into the policy space, responding to research needs from the local projects and offer staff support, and working with the OPRA Director on strategic research priorities.


Over a 10-year horizon and consistent with the Strategic Plan, the advancement unit seeks to support greater fundraising for all of AFSC, greater visibility for the organization and its programs, and greater constituent engagement, including Friends, alumni, and young people, on advocacy goals. In recent years, the unit has benefited from some strategic investments, including for our current fundraising campaign, so there would be no new staff members focused on fundraising and communications in the coming year, but over a longer timeline I anticipate the following changes:

  • Public Engagement: We envision that the Communications team would become a Communications and Public Engagement team to reflect its goals and purpose more accurately. Over time we would work to extend additional capacities to deepen our engagement with alumni, Friends, Quaker young adults, and other constituents. We would also hire a Public Engagement Associate. In part, we would expect this team to liaise with US program teams and leadership and planned gift officers (LPGOs) to manage Community Advisory Groups in the US. Many of these roles need to be defined further in the coming year.
  • Grant writing: In the US, two staff work on our three US program areas; we hope to expand the team (at some future date) by one person so that there is one grant-writer per program area. In IP, we have one full-time staff person and one half-time consultant; we would keep that second line flexible for the coming year and grow it into a full-time staff role or consulting capacity with a focus on European funders.
  • Major Gifts and Planned Gifts: No changes are currently recommended. We are likely to ask LPGO to play some role in the program support committees that we are recommending in various geographies that enable volunteer engagement, g., San Diego, Bay Area, New York City, etc.
  • Media Relations: A second, currently unfulfilled position has been reinforced as a key need, focused on IP.
  • Communications Associates in the US: We envision at least one staff person for each program in the US in communications with a dotted line to each of the three US program directors and These roles may need to come from current staff or at least in a part-time capacity to start. Details forthcoming.
  • Communications and Fundraising Capacity in IP: We envision, over time, at least one staff person in each of the four geographic regions outside of the US who can manage various external relations capacities, including media/press, social media, proposal writing, etc. These individuals would likely report to communications and dotted line to each of the four international IP program directors. IP has also recommended some staff to be based in Europe which would bridge the fundraising and advocacy function. In the short term, LAC may need a communications associate more expeditiously.
  • Campaigns in the US: AFSC undertook a six-month study on our campaigning function in 2020 that needs further discussion amongst staff. At this time, the advancement unit is proposing— consistent with the recommendations of US program staff that were involved in the study and with the views of the consultant—that each of three program areas in the US have a campaign manager as part of the team approach. This person can become an issue expert while playing a key role in mobilizing others around pivotal local, state, and/or national campaigns.
  • Youth Leadership Institute: AFSC has programs that work effectively with young adults across the US and also aspires to develop deeper connections with Quaker youth and students at Quaker AFSC has received partial funding to coordinate these programs through a Youth Leadership Institute, with an accompanying Director. Our current thinking is that this individual will report to the AGS Advancement with a dotted-line relationship to other staff in US Programs or youth programming. Further discussion is required.
  • Development Operations, Annual Giving, Archives: No changes are currently recommended.



Over the ten-year timeline, the Finance Unit intends to meet the expectations of the Organizational Development Goal 1. The overarching goals of modernized and efficient financial systems, transparent and accessible financial information, and growing into sustainability will require deliberate reorganization and addition of resources.

Finance is currently implementing a new and modern financial system that will leverage current staffing resources and create economies of scale through consolidated functions. But this will only be accomplished when the systems are fully implemented, and staff has received full and recurrent training.

The bifurcation of our global work has had unintended competition of resources even as our global work has grown increasingly complex. To achieve compliance and meet donor requirements and deadlines, the following staffing changes are also proposed:

  • Finance Leadership in International Programs: Due to challenges of time differences, work schedules, unique in-country requirements, and coordination of international finance staff, there is a need for a high-level finance coordinating position based internationally that would be the focal point of contact for our international finance work. The IP Director of Finance (IPDF) would be the counterpart of the current US-focused Director of Finance and The current dispersion of finance staff is not coordinated and the IPDF would play a crucial role in developing a coordinated finance operation that works closely with the CFO. IPDF would have support staff as well, though the precise configuration is still in development.
  • Finance Manager: This one-year position would provide immediate assistance to current staff as they transition to the new financial system. The Finance unit was under-resourced even before this major project, so the Finance Manager would provide much-needed support and reallocation of tasks albeit temporarily.
  • Compliance, Internal Audit, and Reporting: Most organizations similar in size and complexity to AFSC have an internal audit function that oversees compliance, financial risk management, and reporting. In the longer-term, AFSC would build out this function to perform roles like managing compliance with the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), in collaboration with relevant units or programs, implementing the guidelines and staff training that has been developed, and serving as the focal point for coordinating financial policies. Though this function is critical, particularly due to the inadequate level of systems and processes, its addition would be delayed until the underlying structure is developed.
  • US Reginal Finance Staff: In thematic-based programming work in the US, we envision having a Finance Manager-level staff member in each program area. The Program Finance Manager (PFM) for Economic Justice, for instance, would oversee the budget implementation and expenditure for programs in this area and coordinate with the other Finance Managers reporting up to the US Director of Finance. The PFMs would have a dotted reporting line to thematic area program leadership. The PFMs would have support staff as well, though the precise configuration is still in development. These changes would not begin until the reorganization within US programs is in progress.
  • Business and Trusts, Accounts Payable, and Accounts Receivable: This area would not change in structure but would benefit from systems change and training for efficacy.
  • Regional Finance Staff Based in Philadelphia: This area would not change insofar as the IP Regions and the thematic areas in the US continue to require higher-level controller functional support.
  • Grants Accounting Management: This collaborative function between Finance and Development would not change, although this position is currently unfilled. A hiring process is currently underway.

Human Resources


For the past several years, IP regions have expressed a need for more support from Human Resources, including an enhanced level of expertise and support of benefits administration in the various countries within the IP regions. There also is a need to better convey information and HR policies and procedures on compensation for international staff. Additionally, staff have consistently requested greater support for training functions. To this end, the proposed restructure includes:

  • IP Capacity: HR would hire a new Senior International HR Generalist/Manager to assist the IP regions with employment and benefits. This position would either be housed within the HR Department with a dotted line to the operations unit within IP, or within the Operations unit of IP with a dotted line to the HR Department for technical
  • Training: HR would plan to add a Training/Learning Coordinator with an organization-wide mandate.

Diversity Equity and Inclusion


We would conclude the hiring of the new Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DDEI) who would be a in a senior leadership role and have a dotted line to the General Secretary. In addition, we would hire an Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to provide additional support to the DDEI in implementing a cohesive and comprehensive Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy aligned with objectives of the new Strategic Plan. The DDEI will encourage and support the creation of staff affinity groups.


Since April 2020, IT has seen a sizeable increase in the demands for technical and virtual meeting support from around the organization as it has shifted to a fully remote environment in response to Covid-19. This rapid change put considerable strain on IT staff who were thrust into a role of supporting all the technological infrastructure that enabled every other department to change their working model to being fully remote. The IT team has worked tirelessly to help the organization through this period.

The proposed reorganization would create new responsibilities for IT, keeping the unit at or near its current temporary level of work indefinitely. To meet this need, and pending adequate funding, the IT would fill two currently open positions, including:

  • Meeting Design Manager: This position would support virtual events and meetings, which have skyrocketed for both operational units and program staff around the world. Leaders around the organization have elevated this as a mission critical need, and we are responding by endeavoring to rehire this position presently, with minimal changes to the existing job description. This role requires flexibility in hours to support all high leverage meetings, so it can either be on-premises or remote from anywhere so long as they can fulfill the hours requirements.
  • Helpdesk and Meeting Support Resource for Central Office/Western US/LAC: Working closely with the Meeting Design Manager, this position would also provide on-site IT helpdesk support in our offices in Friends Center as staff return and would allow IT to cover more of the AFSC global clock and in more languages, particularly in the PM hours to better support staff in the Western US and Latin America (who face language as well as time zone barriers). The role would be for a Spanish language speaker and would be the primary interface between IT and our colleagues who speak Spanish as a first language, focusing on the regions with the largest staff and the greatest current usage of helpdesk and meeting support services.



Security would be relatively unaffected by the proposed reorganization. The Director of Security position has been vacant for some time because of recent budget reduction strategies and would be filled in this process to comply with AFSC’s Duty of Care policy and to mitigate potential risk exposure and fulfill insurance coverage requirements. The search requirements would include security and safety expertise in international contexts and developing preemptive safety guidelines, plans and protocols.



AFSC and the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) have some degree of shared organizational support and resources. We see the proposed reorganization as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with QUNO especially with International Programs and OPRA. As we revise the MOU we hope to see an elevated level of resource and support coordination.

VII.  Timeline and Priority Setting

Though many of the issues we are seeking to address are indeed urgent, the kinds of changes the leadership team is urging require transition time. Though the proposed new direction is designed to be fully implemented along the 10-year timeline of the Strategic Plan, I am cognizant of the need to address urgent issues and to build momentum for culture shift. To this end, the new direction has short-term and long-term milestones embedded within it. By the end of year two, it should be clear how shifts are affecting the staff and the organization’s ability to achieve impact, which allows for inflection and revision as needed.

I see FY21 as a transitional year, and am proposing that the following elements be prioritized within the first phase of implementation (FY22-23), budgets allowing:

  • Restructuring the US Programs along thematic lines and hiring three Program Directors
  • Adding IP Thematic Program Directors on Global Peacebuilding and Migration
  • Enhancing the IP Operations unit with one HR and one finance function (reporting lines to be discussed)
  • Establishing the office of the AGS for Global Planning, Learning, and Collaboration, and adding initial reporting staff
    • Research Coordinator drawing on existing teams at AFSC and then expanding beyond them in the future
    • Issue-based Advocacy Coordinators/Policy Associates (one in US/LAC migration to start)
    • Cross-cutting capacities focused on Gender Justice, Climate Justice, and Racial Justice
    • Community and Partner Engagement Coordinator
  • Adding an Associate, reporting to the Director of DEI
  • Adding a Director of the Youth Leadership Institute (funded)
  • Phase-in campaign coordinators within US thematic program units
  • Phase-in staff within Program Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning

After these initial changes, the leadership would reflect on their impact and, barring any need to modifications, proceed with the second stage as we assess the needs of programs and their supports.

Our plan for building up additional staff within different program areas also will develop further after our restructuring and results from our funding campaign have begun to take root.

All of these timelines are aspirational and depend on the available resources and the organization’s fiscal status. Having a blueprint of our plans will be essential if we are to make decisions holistically and to look at the big picture.

VIII. Budgetary Impact


Throughout this process, I have kept the leadership team rigorously focused on the budgetary impacts of the potential changes we have considered. I am committed to having any reorganization put AFSC on strong financial footing, in both the short- and long-term. Staff must be able to make informed choices about the resources they will have available to them, and the organization must take every possible step to avoid hiring for positions that resources cannot ultimately sustain. The proposed changes would be phased in over time in large part to ensure that our projections are accurate and that we are not making commitments that we cannot honor, and so that the approach can be revised as new information emerges.

We expect that there may be some modest savings in some aspects of the restructuring that is proposed above. We will be spending time in April and May to do a proper financial analysis, as we are getting feedback during listening sessions.

Though the full projections of the budgetary impact of the proposed new direction are still in process, several key factors have factored heavily into the leadership team’s thinking:

  • Extending budget and program cycles to three years would give AFSC a clearer sense of its overall year-to-year financial picture and allow for long term planning that provides for more time to consider We will need to grow into our capacity to execute multi-year budgets.
  • IP programs are largely funded by European government donors, and there are opportunities to grow these lines of funding, but only if the programs are structured in ways that qualify for this funding and facilitate reporting to these institutions.
  • Many of the largest US institutional donors are looking to achieve systemic impact and to fund on an issue basis, rather than a geographic basis. AFSC would be better prepared to sustain a full range [of] US programs through the proposed reorganization.
  • Dotted line reporting allows for greater coordination and maximizes the effectiveness of advancement, HR, IT, and security staff. These teams would be able to maintain roughly the same staffing levels while proving a greater level of support to programs through the proposed reorganization.
  • We hope the Board will approve a Strategic Plan Fund from segregated reserves that will support one-off related and transitional activities such as convenings, internal DEPs, and increased capacities on cross-cutting issues (e.g., Climate justice) where we believe there is an opportunity to developing sustained funding strategies.
  • Following the transition, we anticipate that our funding campaign and strategic program alignment would situate us to increase our revenue in support of collaborative work within and across program issues and international regions.
  • We have initiated a new Fundraising Campaign to help ensure that the Strategic Plan priorities are funded. While we expect our major gifts fundraising to expand in the coming years, we also will need to work together to achieve our full fundraising potential. That said, I am optimistic as we move to an external phase of work following this restructuring that new opportunities will emerge while a Fundraising Campaign provides momentum.
  • We are committed to continue balancing the budget and increasing expenditures only when such expansion can be sustained by new or reallocated sources of revenue. The proposed restructuring plan which would mature over time would not substantially increase our operating budget beyond the capacity to have a balanced result year over year and to build a reserve.
  1. Conclusion

I see this as a critical moment of organizational inflection and believe that this proposed new direction that will position us to do more and better as truly global organization affirmed by our Quaker principles of community. This new structure would strengthen organizational equity and maximize our impact in the world in line with our Strategic Plan. I welcome continued conversation about the perspectives offered here.

In peace, Joyce Ajlouny


Glossary of Abbreviations

AGS: Associate General Secretary

BWGPDM: Board Working Group on the Role of Governance in Program Decision Making CR: Country Representative

CTRC: Coordinating Team for Restructuring Consultations DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

DDEI: Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion DEP: Dialogue and Exchange Program

EU: European Union LT: Leadership Team

FCNL: Friends Committee on National Legislation GPCL: Global Planning, Collaboration, and Learning HR: Human Resources

ICJTT: The Inclusive Cohesive and Just Task Team INGO: International Non-Governmental Organization IP: International Programs

IPDF: International Programs Director of Finance IPEC: International Programs Executive Committee IT: Information Technology

LAC: Latin America and Caribbean Countries MOU: Memorandum of Understanding

NARMIC: National Action and Research on the Military Industrial Complex ODG: Organizational Development Goal

OPRA: Office of Policy Research and Advocacy PD: Program Director

PEAC: Public Education and Advocacy Coordinator PFM: Program Finance Manager

PMEL: Program Monitoring Evaluation and Learning QUNO: Quaker United Nations Office

RD: Regional Director

USCG: US Coordinating Group


Appendix I: Recommended Restructure

Appendix II: Matrix Management – Draft Principles (under discussion)

The proposed new direction calls on an organizational structure that is new to AFSC: dotted line reporting. As we consider the possibilities ahead of us, it is important to understand what this structure would mean for all parties involved.

What is dotted line reporting?

In practice, dotted line reporting means that staff will at times receive assignments from and submit completed work to a manager other than their direct or solid line managers, generally on a set of clearly defined ongoing projects and tasks. This relationship often focuses on reporting the progress of deliverables, project updates, and initiatives, rather than on job performance.

Dotted line reporting may be temporary, with a project manager overseeing work for a short period of time, or it may be ongoing, particularly if the direct manager is in another state or country.

Why incorporate dotted line reporting?

Dotted line reporting is a feature of joint management. In joint management systems, employees have two managers (Co-Directors) who handle different responsibilities of management. It provides greater organization and cohesiveness when there are strict divisions between different teams or departments, but an employee has responsibilities that require input from multiple departments or teams. For example, a member of the advancement team might have solid line reporting into the advancement team to ensure accountability to fundraising goals but have dotted line reporting into a specific program unit as they work with staff to gather information and manage reporting.

How does it work?

Employees working within this framework will have a solid line manager and a dotted line manager, who share a vertical relationship. The solid line manager is an employee’s primary manager, responsible for performance review, considering job advancements, and making any changes to job descriptions. The solid line manager has greater administrative responsibility for and provides more oversight. A dotted line manager is a secondary manager, providing feedback and assigning work-related tasks in a more limited managerial role.

How can we successfully incorporate a dotted line framework?

Employees can make the most of this framework by proactively ensuring that their managers are aligned, by asking clarifying questions whenever managers appear to have different priorities, and by communicating in a group email or group setting so both managers interact directly. When employees need to balance workload, they are encouraged to be transparent with both managers about how much time they can devote to the project or assignment in relation to other tasks.

Other related posts:

“Hello, AFSC? There’s a Crisis on the Line—And It’s for You.” — January 3, 2022

AFSC & The Hammer: Duncan Fired
January 5, 2022

AFSC After “The Day The Movement Died”
January 13, 2022

Quaker House, 9-11 and Me: Arguing With God

I’ve said that when I was Director of Quaker House (2001-2012) I had the best Quaker job there is.

But I didn’t always feel that way. In fact, my initial stance was emphatically the opposite.

Now that the job is open again, it’s worth describing how and why that changed for me.

This is a true story, which I hope will speak to a Friend who may not know it now, but is the right one to fill the post in what is likely to be a very challenging time.

The story begins with “No.”


“No,” I said. “No thank you.”

I said this to Chris Olson-Vickers. Chris was a mild-mannered social worker in Richmond, Virginia. She was also a Quaker, who in August of 2001 had agreed, perhaps rashly, to host an impecunious co-religionist  in need of shelter during the mid-Atlantic Quakers’ regional assembly, called Baltimore Yearly Meeting.

That impecunious co-religionist was me. Laid off and low on cash, I was too strapped to stay on-campus nearby, where our sessions were underway. I was packing lunches and avoiding the cafeteria.

Art by john Allder Stephens

On this evening, besides putting me up, Chris was also feeding me dinner. With the meal she had offered – not job-hunting advice; she is too cultivated for that. Rather, she was exercising a Quaker prerogative and “laboring” with me.

It was opportune, she had said, perhaps even providential, that I was unemployed and under her roof. Because she knew of a job opening. A Quaker job. One she thought I had the skills to fill.

At first I was all ears. What job? Where?

But at her answers, I shook my head emphatically. “It’s called Quaker House,” Chris said. “In Fayetteville, North Carolina. Next to Fort Bragg.”

“No,” I repeated. “Not a chance.”

In a more mainstream setting, this could, maybe should, have been the end of it. But as I said, Chris was not simply giving helpful advice. Rather, she was doing religious work, in a form we both understood then, and I understood better later. The fact that, to an outsider, it might have sounded like an argument, did not change its essential character.

Quakers call it “discernment.”

Chuck and books, in Pennsylvania 1999

After all, many of the key divine-human encounters in the Bible are a lot like arguments, if you listen behind the euphemized antique language.

So Chris pushed past my demurral.

Wait, she persisted. This was not just any job. It was a Quaker peace project planted near one of the largest U. S. military bases, in the midst of a thoroughly militarized city. It had been lifting up the Quaker Peace Testimony in Fayetteville since 1969.

In particular, it had helped many dissident GIs to find legal ways out of the military, and there were plenty more calling it all the time.

All very admirable, I agreed. But it was not for me.

There were any number of reasons.

At the top of the list, I readily admitted, was unabashed regional prejudice. For seventeen years, from the late 1970s to the middle of 1994, I had lived in northern Virginia, which was in the South despite cosmopolitan pretensions and nearness to Washington DC.

I tapped my chest significantly : That experience, I told her, put me deeply in touch with my Inner Yankee. In mid-1994 a chance came to move to Pennsylvania: I had leaped at it like a prisoner of war spying a hole in the stockade fence.

I was still there, in beautiful Happy Valley. That’s what folks around State College, home of Penn State University, call their mountain-secluded stronghold in the center of the state.

I liked the area. The woman I lived with was rooted there like an oak. We were part of a lively  Quaker meeting there. So why would I want to move?

Next to the old Orthodox Friends cemetery in Bellefonte, PA, near State College.

Okay, I had been laid off from teaching English classes that Spring; that was an issue. But stuff happens. This too shall pass.

Besides, I raved on, North Carolina?  I hadn’t lived there, but knew all I needed to know about it: it was a Four-H state –

It had Heat. Humidity. Hurricanes.

And Jesse Helms. 

Jesse Helms, longtime reactionary U.S. Senator from NC.

To repeat, no thanks. They could keep him, and the rest of it.

There was more like this.

But none of it fazed Chris Olson-Vickers.

You need to apply for this job, she said again. Chris had grown up in Fayetteville, still had family there. She knew Quaker House’s good work firsthand.

But the job had been vacant for a year and a half; hardly anybody had even applied. If they can’t fill it, she said, the board would have to close Quaker House down.

Which would be a darn shame, because there was still so much to do. There wasn’t any other place like it, she said. This wasn’t just personal, about filling a slot. This was about Quaker witness.

My turn: I said my heart went out to the board, but that didn’t change my conviction. I had grown up on military bases too, I conceded. But that only showed that the military wasn’t for me, and enough was enough.


From there, I switched to two other lines of defense:

For one thing, I pointed out, if what Quaker House did was counsel GIs about military rules and regulations, I knew nothing about those, except that they filled many fat volumes that I had never opened.

Chris shrugged. You could learn, she said.

Besides, I pushed on, the board would be unlikely to hire me, because of my ornery reputation among Quakers. For eleven years I had published an independent Quaker newsletter. It had repeatedly rattled various closeted Quaker skeletons, poked sticks in sleeping dogs, upset various institutional applecarts, otherwise ruffled feathers and mangled metaphors right and left.

Some of this reporting might have been the Lord’s Work, but little of it was what could be considered good career moves. Somebody on the board was sure to be ticked off about something or other.

Chris was equally unimpressed by this ploy. If anybody on the board remembered these old controversies, she was sure that for the project’s survival, they would set it all aside.

If I had only been arguing with Chris, I think I could have prevailed. By the time we were finished, she had badgered me into agreeing that I’d at least send a resume to Quaker House, if only to get her to leave me be. What could it hurt? She said.

Right. What could it hurt? All the most likely outcomes I could imagine would get me off the hook:

Somebody else would apply, who lived closer and really was ready to move. They’d hire them, with my blessing.

Or a board member would recall an old grievance and not let it go. “Fager?” I could see them thinking. “Wasn’t he the one who wrote that inflammatory article about–(whatever)?” And then putting their response: “Over my dead body,” into proper passive aggressive Quakerese:

“Er, Friends, I believe that is a name which would not have occurred to me.”  

I’ve used that sentence myself, and more power to him. Or her.

On the upside, in the meantime perhaps I would find other work, so if they called I could graciously decline.

In any event, I grudgingly kept my word to Chris, sent in the resume when I got back to Pennsylvania, repeated most of the above caveats about it to my woman friend, and then thought about it as little as possible.

And if I had been arguing only with Chris, I’m sure that would have been the end of that.


Not thinking about that resume in the next few weeks was relatively easy. That’s because while I was without full-time work, I did have a contract gig, doing research for a union organizing drive among Penn State teaching assistants. So I was busy digging into the seamy side of a large, rapidly expanding, and very secretive university.

Penn State is a hybrid institution, partly public and partly private, and its managers skillfully play both sides of that fence to conceal the maximum amount of inside information from just about all outside scrutiny.

My big achievement in that project was to discover and publish the salary of its president, a number which was as closely guarded as any secret the CIA is hiding. The magic number, about $500,000 as I recall, turned up in an obscure corner of an obscure IRS document filed by an obscure university research foundation.

I’ve done a lot of investigative reporting, and it’s always a thrill to lift the veil on some hidden item which should be public anyway.

But my triumph was short-lived. No sooner had my contact at the local daily paper published the number, backed up by my source, than Penn State’s lawyers/lobbyists swung into action. They interceded with the IRS to get the obscure foundation exempted from that reporting requirement in the future. The CIA could hardly have reacted more swiftly or effectively.

That work was absorbing and often fun. But by the end of the month I was ready for a break. My son Asa had graduated from high school that spring, and had been selected to do a year-long tour with Americorps, starting in a few weeks. I proposed a trip, one of those life-transition journeys a parent and child get to take if they’re lucky.

I had squirreled away enough cash from the research gig to bring it off, I thought. We would be on a tight budget, driving my car, staying mainly with friends, and looking for low-cost attractions, but we could do it.

Where did he want to go? I had asked. Maine, he said. Where in Maine, I wondered – how about Portland, recalling his interest in  the novels of Stephen King? He shrugged. Just Maine would do.

Let’s get there by way of Canada, I suggested and he agreed. So off we went just after Labor Day, heading for Maine by first going northwest to Ontario, and then up to Montreal.

Montreal was especially appealing. It was still warm, and on the night we rolled into town, wondering at the French signs and the general European air, we stumbled onto a noisy street dance, downtown on Ave. St. Denis. Asa took off to find the mosh pit, and I sat by, content to people watch, and bask in my linguistic acuity when, after an hour or so, I figured out that a banner reading “rentrée” meant “back to school.”

samaritans-montreal-copyFrom la belle province we headed to central Maine, where we stayed with Arla Patch, a fine Quaker artist, went to the beach, and visited the Sabbath day Lake Shaker community.  And it was somewhere on that leg that Asa and I fell to talking about generations, and their sense of identity.

He told me he envied mine, the veterans of the Sixties. We knew what we were after, he said, like stopping the Vietnam war and segregation. We had a sense of direction, a center. “Look at my generation,” he pleaded. “What direction do we have?”

I did my best to reassure him. The notion that my peers and I had things together is mostly retrospective eyewash, I said. We were a bunch of kids trying to make sense of a lot of violence and hate. And many of us, his father included, had spent years trying to find, or create, some sense of direction, a sense of what Quakers call centeredness.

I couldn’t say that process had ended, either. And anyway, I would not wish something like the Vietnam war on anybody.

Under arrest – anti-Vietnam war protest, Boston, circa 1973.

We never did get to Portland, to drive past Stephen King’s house. We might have given it a shot when we left, because our plan was to visit my brother in Brooklyn, before heading back to Pennsylvania.

But just as we were climbing into the car, on that lovely Tuesday morning, Arla Patch came out, looking worried, a phone held to her ear, to tell us that something crazy had just happened and it was on TV right then. Something about the World Trade Center. We better come see.

What?” I said, annoyed at the delay, and reluctantly followed her inside to take a look.

It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001.


Later that day, the car angled southwest across Vermont, aimed well away from Brooklyn and New York City.  The radio kept repeating the awful reports over and over, as if the reporters still could not quite believe what we had all seen, and at some point I turned to Asa. “God help us all, son,” I said, “but I think your generation just found its direction.”

Back home in Pennsylvania, I struggled through the next days, like everyone else, to make sense of what had happened. Only one thing about the aftermath seemed clear to me: the U.S would soon be at war. Where and when were obscure, but this had felt to me like a bottom-line certainty even before we finally rose and left Arla alone with the smoke on her television screen that morning.

This certainty was not a sign of any prophetic gift. It came, I think, more from my roots in a military family. Many of the reflexes of that culture were ingrained: You (whoever “you” were, who hijacked those planes, we still weren’t sure) don’t get away with attacking the Pentagon, the nerve center of all the US military. Somebody will soon face some heavy payback from the armed men and women whose headquarters and stronghold are in that building. 

And chances were very good that when this war started, there would be many more of the innocent killed in their frenzied, fiery search for the guilty. U.S. revenge would be painted on some part of the world in a very broad brush of death.

And me? What would I do in the face of this impending war? The attacks had shaken me, truly, but had not undermined my basic Quaker pacifist convictions. I had just seen murder, on a huge scale. But more murder was not an answer to murder. That was my conviction on September 10; it remained so on September 12th. I also sensed that I would have some small part in struggling to frame and lift up some voice for an alternative. Hell, any serious Quaker (or Christian?) would.  Right?

But what alternative? And how to raise it?

I didn’t know. But Quakers in circumstances like these are taught to wait for “way to open.” Our spirituality is that if we are properly attentive, we will be given “leadings,” which will point us in the way to go.

I’m a Quaker in large measure because that has happened to me. In our literature such experiences are often described in terms of mystical ecstasies or compared to the rush of romantic infatuation. These are as much metaphors as markers, however; it doesn’t happen according to any specific schedule or formula. John 3: 8 applies: “The spirit is like the wind: it blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where it comes from, or where it’s going.” 

I knew all this well enough from my own experience. I was about to learn it again.


An email from a stranger named Bonnie Parsons came only a few days after the return from Maine. Smoke was still rising from the wreckage in Manhattan and Washington, and those with their hands on the levers of political power were already taking advantage of the calamity to serve many other ends, but above all the ends of war. Afghanistan was the first target.

Bonnie Parsons said she wanted to talk to me. And it turned out she was not really a stranger: Bonnie Parsons was the Clerk of the Board  of Quaker House in Fayetteville-Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

At this point, we can skip a chunk of chronology. Contemplating Bonnie’s email, I could almost hear the teeth on the gears of Providence grinding into place somewhere above my head. Heaving a sigh at the computer screen, I knew that if Quaker House wanted to talk to me, they would likely want to hire me.

Even with my checkered past, I made a strong competitor for a Quaker job that nobody else wanted. And if they did make an offer, I knew I would take it.

But what about all my objections? My complaints to Chris Olson-Vickers?

They remained, but were no longer of any consequence.

As with the premonition about the coming of war, this was another case where the models from a military background made more sense than the softer language of typical Quaker spirituality. Reading Bonnie’s email, I felt like an old, out of shape army reservist suddenly being called back to active duty.

Such calls come when you receive orders. The tone of such communications is direct, curt, and unmoved by complaints and objections.

In the military, you don’t follow your bliss; you follow  orders. And it’s not about self-fulfillment — or God help us, “transformation” — it’s about a mission, one likely formulated, as they say, somewhere way above your pay grade. And in pursuing the mission, people can get hurt or killed. For that matter, from your lowly perspective, the mission, as far you can understand it, might be stupid, pointless or even self-defeating.

And your lowly perspective may even be right. But orders are orders.

You won’t find this image in any books on Quaker spirituality that I know of, but that day, and still, I could almost hear God speaking, in the tones of an old, profane first sergeant:


Oh, so you don’t like Carolina? Fayetteville’s not in your pretty mountains? Too hot and humid, you say? Scared of hurricanes, and you’ll miss your girlfriend?

Tough shit, soldier. Get in line. 

And you’re asking how long your tour will be?

Til further orders, asshole, what did you expect? There’s a war on, or will be in a minute. 

And oh, yeah — I voted for Jesse Helms. Four times. Or was it five? You got a problem with that, soldier?  

Suck it up and drive on.

That’s who else I had been arguing with when I was complaining to Chris Olson-Vickers. And as any soldier knows, those are arguments you don’t win.

I went on the Quaker House payroll December 1, 2001, and moved in over New Year’s 2002. Sure enough, it was the right place, the best place for me. Stayed til the end of November 2012; it, and the wars, wore me out. Which the best job is supposed to do.

We didn’t stop the wars, alas. But we kept at it, and I was able to pass on Quaker House to able successors who kept up the witness; which is how the story is supposed to end.

And which is what needs to happen again now. Maybe you’re the one. Or you know who it could be. (The full job announcement is here.)

Besides, if God talked tough, She was also merciful:  Shortly after I got to North Carolina, Jesse Helms announced his retirement.

– – – – – –

“It’s not the bullet with my name on it that worries me. It’s the one that says ‘To Whom It May concern,’ said an anonymous Belfast resident.”

– from War, the Lethal Custom, by Gwynne Dyer.

“I mean, I can imagine some poor bastard who’s fulfilled all your criteria for successful adaptation to life, … upon retirement to some aged enclave near Tampa just staring out over the ocean waiting for the next attack of chest pain, and wondering what he’s missed all his life. What’s the difference between a guy who at his final conscious moments before death has a nostalgic grin on his face as if to say, ‘Boy, I sure squeezed that lemon’ and the other man who fights for every last breath in an effort to turn back time to some nagging unfinished business?”

– Participant in a Harvard longitudinal life-study, in his 60s; from The Atlantic, June 2009

Chekhov: “Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.”


Chuck Fager retired as Quaker House Director Director in 2012.

On September 21, 2019 Quaker House observed its 50th anniversary, and today it is still working with soldier war resisters, military families and veterans. 

Two Videos: “The Separation Generation” & My Odyssey in Brief

Two new videos are on my mind as this week opens:

The first was made last week, when three of us opened the door to what hopefully will become a much broader set of conversations about recent Quaker history, conflicts, and current issues.

We gathered for the Earlham School of Religion’s Authors discussion of our three-volume set, “The Separation Generation, “ charting a series of five recent schisms in American Quaker yearly meetings.

More than one hundred Friends and visitors joined us in person and via Zoom. They had lots of good questions, more than we could deal with in our limited time.

One of the most frequent questions, in Zoom  chat and later messages, was, “When will a video recording be available?”

I’m happy to say that the answer is, “Right now.”

The hour-long recording of the session is now on Vimeo, here.

Coauthors, from left: Stephen Angell; Jade Rockwell; and Chuck Fager

So if you missed it, or want to go over it again, now’s your chance. And you can still send in questions and comments to us, via this blog. Continue reading Two Videos: “The Separation Generation” & My Odyssey in Brief

For A Hearty Holiday: Our Democracy Is Approaching Cardiac Arrest

My fickle finger of fate, lit up for the big MRI

So: I went in for a thorough cardio checkup, a long  overnight at Duke Med. As the capstone of the process they stuck me in this MRI machine for a long hour of lying stock still on my back, eyes closed and hands slowly going numb under the barrage of whanging and zapping aimed at discovering what if anything functional was left in my upper torso.

In cardio terms, the MRI was a success: they said my heart was pretty much okay for a guy my age: go home, take the pills, and keep in touch.

But an hour later, when I clicked the news on the iPad, I got an eerie sinking feeling: maybe there had been more to that big machine than just a very noisy electronic stethoscope. What if it was also a reverse time machine, doubtless part of the CIA’s vast secret UFO research: when they rolled me in, it was 2021. When I came back out into the light, in much of America it was 1964, or maybe 1953.

Not that I was younger, or anything good was back from those days (big Hershey bars for a nickel, Cokes for a dime, and Elvis on the juke box). Instead, 56 years of civil rights history was gone. While I was in that light beige reverse birth canal, the Voting Rights Act disappeared. Continue reading For A Hearty Holiday: Our Democracy Is Approaching Cardiac Arrest

The “Spirit of Harriet Tubman” is Ready to speak Again

[Details on a live performance of “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman” 0n June 27 are below. Spread the word!]

During much of the 1850s, Harriet Tubman, felt almost like a prisoner. She lived in Canada, just a few miles west of the U. S. border at Niagara Falls. She was safe there, but itchy to help more enslaved people to escape.

Diane Faison as Harriet Tubman

And today, Diane Faison of Winston-Salem, NC, knows something of how Harriet felt.

Tubman, the Ace of the Underground Railroad, was a hunted woman. Southern slavecatchers wanted her dead or alive. She had secretly returned to the state to aid others several more times.

Diane Faison’s journey with Harriet started 140 years later, when she knocked  a book off a library shelf. Continue reading The “Spirit of Harriet Tubman” is Ready to speak Again

What’s In a Name (Change)??

A pre-revolutionary Washington, with William Lee, one of his enslaved servants. In his will, Washington freed Lee and a hundred other enslaved people. Not good enough to keep his name on a public school?

“May I be boiled in oil,
And fried in Crisco,
If I ever call
San Francisco, Frisco.”

–Ogden Nash

All right, let’s stipulate that some of those San Francisco schools SHOULD be renamed. But some other cases are, well, complicated.

I mean, if living in an independent country has any value for us, the bad news that George Washington was a slaveowner can’t be the end of discussion about him; dammit, he and his ragtag army did win the revolution.

Then he declined to celebrate by taking on the crown his victory had displaced.

That’s a gesture which some of us have just re-learned is definitely not chopped liver. (Tho some of us evidently just haven’t.)

Ditto for the fact that Lincoln was a stone segregationist who hoped slaves would be freed so they could all be shipped to Central America.

Terrible “optics, in politico-speak. And a completely  cockamamie idea; but then Abe still got woke enough to end legal slavery. And he gave some boffo speeches, huuugely better than, say, “The carnage stops here.” There’s a whole lot of reckoning yet to be done there.

Two Roosevelts. Toss a coin to toss one?

Instead, tho, according to numerous press reports, the  SF renaming process turned into a contender for the worst imitation of a bad SNL cold open that ever made comedy writers spew their coffee.

The renamers even voted to toss Roosevelt Middle School, tho they couldn’t seem to be bothered to figure out which Roosevelt it was, FDR or Teddy, to whom they were giving the boot. (But who cares? They were both dead white males.)

Well, anyway. Looks like becoming a laughingstock finally got under somebody’s skin there, and the renaming is now toast.

But it really ought not to be. Some of the names probably should go. Plus there are definitely new names that need recognition. (Looking at you, Harriet Tubman. And my sentimental Sixties favorite, Wavy Gravy.)

Besides, the reexamination of all 44 could be a Golden Gate into substantive educational experiences involving the students too. (Students? What a concept.)

Well, Frisco school folks, you gave yourselves a big load of lemons.

So now get busy, catch up on that history homework you skipped, and make your city some serious educational lemonade, meringue pies and (gluten free) pound cake already.

Sacramento Bee: Plan to rename 44 San Francisco schools during pandemic on hold.

‘Mistakes were made’
Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco will be among 44 schools which was to have their names changed following a 6-1 vote by the school board. Those plans are now on hold, school officials say.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s disappearance has also been stayed.

Gabriela Lopez

Gabriela Lopez, newly elected as president of the school board, said in a statement Sunday that school officials must focus on reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in school,” Lopez wrote. She canceled further hearings by a renaming committee.

Lopez called the school renaming issue “one of many distracting debates,” noting the process began before anyone anticipated a pandemic shutting down in-person schooling.

“I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process,” Lopez wrote.

When the renaming project reopens, district leaders will seek a “more deliberative” process involving historians along with parents and educators, Lopez wrote.

The school board voted 6-1 Jan. 26 to strip the names, now considered offensive, from 44 San Francisco schools, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“It’s a message to our families, our students and our community,” said trustee Mark Sanchez at the time, according to the publication. “It’s not just symbolic. It’s a moral message.”

Parents and teachers at each school would have had until April to propose new names to be approved by the board, Courthouse News reported. The renaming project was expected to cost $440,000.

School names honoring Paul Revere, Francis Scott Key, Thomas Jefferson, Herbert Hoover, Father Junipero Serra and Robert Louis Stevenson were also among those scheduled to be changed, according to a district list.

The renaming committee faulted Washington for owning slaves, Lincoln for the hangings of Native Americans and Feinstein for reports she once ordered the replacement of a Confederate flag torn down by protesters.

Other names to be changed include those of conquistadors who explored California and notable San Francisco residents, including a former superintendent, who held racist views.

The board also voted to rename Roosevelt Middle School despite confusion over whether it was originally named for Theodore or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Fox News reported.

A committee studied the proposed name changes for two years before the decision was made, according to a presentation from the San Francisco Unified School District.

The presentation says involvement in colonization, slavery, genocide, exploitation of workers, oppression, racism and other human rights abuses are reasons to remove someone’s name from a school.

Some of the criteria for possible replacement names included a grounding in social or economic justice, local rather than national figures and those who bring “joy and healing to the world.”

The proposed name changes generated national commentary, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed criticized the proposals in October, KGO reported.

“The fact that our kids aren’t in school is what’s driving inequity in our city, not the name of a school,” Breed said, according to the station.

Another personal favorite for a new school monicker: political whiz Stacey Abrams. Okay, so she’s not from California. Well, lots of the others weren’t either.

Former President Donald Trump posted to Twitter about the proposal in December, calling it “so ridiculous and unfair,” The Hill reported.

Critics of the name changes argued that historical figures should be judged in historical context of all their efforts, not dismissed for individual questionable actions, Courthouse News reported.

A Passing Ode to Beat Poet Diane di Prima

Diane Di Prima was an anarchist feminist Beatnik poet, who died this past weekend at 86, in San Francisco.

I didn’t really follow her work or career. But I was an early long-distance fan of the Beats, and one of her poems, part of a series of “Revolutionary Letters,” caught my attention.  For my second book, Uncertain Resurrection, about the failure of Dr. King’s 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign,  I included it as an epigraph and opening lament. I can still feel its sting half a century later.

Here it is, along with an excerpt from her obituary in the Washington Post:

Revolutionary Letters #19

Diane DiPrima

if what you want is jobs
for everyone, you are still the enemy,
you have not thought thru, clearly
what it means

if what you want is housing,
(G. E. on the Navaho
a car for everyone, garage, refrigerator,
TV, more plumbing, scientific
freeways, you are still
the enemy, you have chosen
to sacrifice the planet for a few years of some
science fiction utopia, if what you want

still is, or can be, schools
where all our kids are pushed into one shape, are taught
it’s better to be “American” than black
or Indian, or Jap, or PR, where Dick
and Jane become and are the dream, do you
look like Dick’s father, don’t you think your kid
secretly wishes you did

if what you want
is clinics where the AMA
can feed you pills to keep you weak, or sterile,
shoot germs into your kids, while Merck & Co.
grows richer

if you want
free psychiatric help for everyone
so that the shrinks,
pimps for this decadence, can make
it flower for us, if you want

if you still want a piece
a small piece of suburbia, green lawn
laid down by the square foot
color TV, whose radiant energy
kills brain cells, whose subliminal ads
brainwash your children, have taken over
your dreams

degrees from universities which are nothing
more than slum landlords, festering sinks
of lies, so you too can go forth
and lie to others on some greeny campus

THE ENEMY, you are selling
yourself short, remember
you can have what you ask for, ask for

everything Continue reading A Passing Ode to Beat Poet Diane di Prima

Kent State – May 4, 1970: Part One

May 4 2021 is the 51st anniversary of the Kent State killings of four students by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war protest.

Only three years ago, on a balmy spring Sunday, was I able to visit & pay respects at Kent State, not far from Cleveland, with my good friend Henry Bloom, who lives nearby.

The scene was tranquil and idyllic, flowers blooming, trees budding, but like a corner of the fields around Gettysburg, ringed with memorials and monuments. Here are some snapshots.


Henry, at left, is a somewhat retired physician, less retired this spring because of the pandemic.

Continue reading Kent State – May 4, 1970: Part One

“Passing the Torch”, Author Speak #6: Diane Faison Mckinzie

Diane Speas Faison McKinzie.

[In midlife, Diane Faison and her family faced multiple traumas while living in Richmond, Virginia., including the murder of her mother-in-law and family conflict over her estate.] Diane writes,

After all this, it was no surprise that my husband said he wanted to leave Richmond. I don’t want the children living in this atmosphere, he said. I said OK. Now out of the Navy, he said he wanted to find a teaching job somewhere quiet in the country. Before long he found a position in Farmville Virginia, about fifty miles away. I was teaching in Richmond, so soon he was driving from Richmond to Farmville and back every day, 50 miles each way.

I finished up my contract in Richmond and found a position in Brookville, about 5 miles from Farmville. . . . Soon we bought 70 acres that was mostly wooded. On it we built our dream house,  finished in 1987. We were also both very involved with the schools there in and around Farmville, which was in Prince Edward County.

I guess I need to say something about Prince Edward County. By the time we got there many years had passed since the days of lunch counter sit-ins and Dr. King’s big march. But major civil rights history was not far away.

In 1959, when a federal court ordered Prince Edward County to desegregate its schools, the county reacted by closing them all. White students were issued vouchers to pay tuition at a new private “segregation academy.” Black students were left to fend for themselves. Their schools stayed closed til 1964.

Prince Edward Academy, the segregated private school organized for white students when the county’s public schools were closed to avoid integration. Local black students were left on their own. The academy still exists, renamed the Fuqua school, and has in recent decades admitted a few students of color.

They reopened just about the time I started teaching after college. So in one way it was all over. But the memories were still fresh. And one of them was particularly meaningful to me: Late in 1959, the American Friends Service Committee started work in Prince Edward County, with an office in Farmville for what in 1960 became its Emergency Placement Program.

Through it families in non-segregated areas volunteered to take in black students from Prince Edward to attend school there. That program lasted four years, til the schools reopened. It enabled many black students to complete their disrupted high school work.

Prince Edward students demanding the reopening of their public schools. The county schools were closed from 1959 to 1964.

Friends = Quakers. The connection stayed with me. I learned about their tradition of quiet worship, without a church hierarchy. I liked that idea too. I often spent time on our land in silent meditation. My husband, now out of the military, sometimes talked reflectively about all the killing in war. About the time our house was finished, a gentleman who lived nearby decided to start a Quaker worship group, under the auspices of a regional association called Baltimore Yearly Meeting. We began to gather at his barn for meeting, alternating with our house.

Those were good years. The children grew, moved on through school, into college and out into adult life. Both my husband and I were honored for our work in the schools. And each February, when Black History Month came along, we joined in eagerly.

It was in 1988, when I started thinking about the coming February, that I got a bit restless. I liked to do things with my students that were different. But in Black History Month, very often the observance came down to students reading something and writing a report. Suddenly that sounded too dry. I wanted something unique.

Harriet Tubman during the time she worked as a spy and scout for the Union Army during the Civil War.

So I went to the library. This was still the old days, when libraries had shelves full of books and barely any computers. I had to touch the books, lift them and open them. And when I came to the Black history shelf, my hand brushed a book and it fell to the floor.

I picked it up. The title was, The Life of Harriet Tubman. Of course, I knew about her. Or so I thought. But I turned the pages anyway.
As I read about her this time, something came over me. I felt as though, this is me. I felt I was being encouraged to be Harriet’s vessel to tell her story, to embody it. (Quakers call this a leading; for me, that’s what it was.) I felt I had to show the students who this woman was. Such a small person, but with such a huge courage.

The idea began to grow in my mind. I had older relatives, who didn’t have much schooling, who still talked in something like the old slave dialect; I had heard it all my life. So I felt that’s how Harriet talked. And it came naturally to me as her voice. I didn’t have to study that part.

I never wrote a script. After all these years, I’ve never had one. I read it, I felt it, and I spoke it. I was following the tradition of my people: I didn’t have to read it. Storytellers of my people don’t have scripts. But I keep learning about Harriet. Every year I find out something new about her, and I might add it to the performance, and I might not.

After that first performance in 1989, I began to get requests to perform at other schools. And those were very fulfilling too.
Yet in time, big changes came. One morning in 1997, my husband tugged me awake. When I saw him I screamed: his chest and groin were covered with blood. It was an advanced case of cancer, which he had not told anyone about.

From there I had more than a year of caregiving as he went through surgery and chemo and experimental therapies, and got weaker and weaker. When he died in 1999, I was more than devastated; we had been married thirty-one years. . . .

[In 2015, Diane married Crawford McKinzie, and moved with him to Gibsonville, North Carolina. . . .]

spring Friends Meeting, Snow Camp NC.

When I moved to Gibsonville, I felt an overwhelming need to find another Friends meeting to be part of, and I started searching for one. I finally found Spring Friends Meeting in Snow Camp, NC, where I do feel like I belong. Spring had an unexplainable spiritual atmosphere that felt like a warm hug. Maybe that was partly due to the fact that the Meeting has been in that spot since the late 1700s; so many Quakers have lived there, and many are buried nearby.

Mack had been career army, twenty-two years, and was a Vietnam veteran too. He had been in field units there, often under fire in combat areas, sleeping on the ground with rats and taking baths mainly in the rain, — and both the rain and the ground were running with toxic Agent Orange. Even now, sometimes he has flashback nightmares, muttering “They’re coming, they’re coming” in his sleep, and striking out, even at me.

This 2019 movie created powerful images of Harriet Tubman’s work.

After four good years together, Mack fell ill, and as this is written, he is contending with a number of very serious conditions. I’m again being a caregiver, essentially fulltime, juggling doctors’ appointments, tests and procedures, savoring his good days, and weathering the others.

Harriet Tubman, at left, as caregiver and advocate for elderly veterans, her family members, and others, at her home in Auburn, New York., circa 1887.

This routine, I confess, wears me out. And I remember that Harriet too was a longtime caregiver. She built a house in Auburn, New York, where she cared for the poor, including Civil War veterans who were afflicted with what we would name PTSD, but then was called “soldier’s heart.”

Later she took care of her second husband and her aged parents there. She did this work for almost as many years as she was active in the Underground, and then the Civil War. Learning this strengthens my identification with her; besides my second husband, I too took care of my aging parents. She did this caregiving until her own health failed; she lived until 1913.

Diane as Harriet.

In my situation, I often get tired, and frustrated. Times of relief and release are sparse. I know that in Harriet’s years of caregiving, she found support in her religious faith and her church community. And at Spring, with Friends, when I lead the meeting, or sit and listen in the meeting, it gives me the same renewal like I feel also came to Harriet. And I have to add that the most renewing moments are when I’m performing as Harriet. . . . Even after thirty years, and several hundred appearances, speaking Harriet Tubman’s words and evoking her spirit refreshes and renews my heart and soul.

More of Diane’s story, of growing up in the time of segregation, and being a military wife during and after the Vietnam War, is in the pages of Passing The Torch.

And don’t forget our Book Launch Party on Saturday Nov. 23, at Providence Friends Meeting, 105 N. Providence Rd. in Media PA, noon to 3PM. Free, with food, readings, authors to mingle with, and music from and about our generation.

You’re invited; (more details here. )

Previous posts featuring Passing The Torch Authors–
1. Barbara Berntsen

  1. Carter Nash
  2. Helena Cobban
  3. Why Passing the Torch? Why Now?

5. Douglas Gwyn: “I received a distinct calling”

6. Marian Rhys: “I stopped trying to talk with Friends about evil . . .”






“Passing the Torch,” Author Speak #5: “I stopped trying to talk with Friends about evil . . .”

From Marian Rhys, “Life: The Great Balancing Act,” in Passing the Torch

Marian Rhys

Despite [a youthful] service-work connection with Friends, it was not until my early twenties that I became engaged with them on any regular basis. By that time, I had begun to feel the need for some spirituality in my life, and started attending Westwood Monthly Meeting in Los Angeles, where I had moved in 1968. I joined the meeting after about two years, eventually serving as treasurer and on Ministry and Oversight Committee.

But it was attending Pacific Yearly Meeting that really drew me to Friends. I experienced Yearly Meeting as a wonderful gathering of highly energized, dedicated and spiritually centered people. Worship sharing sessions seemed infused with truly meaningful discussions about important issues: what are our values? what does it mean to lead an ethical life? how do we address the suffering in the world?

I was particularly impressed with the older Friends I met, the World War II generation (and even older): in California, Lloyd and Eula McCracken, Ed and Molly Morgenroth, Russ and Mary Jorgensen, Red and Madelaine Stephenson, Bob and Marie Schutz, Earle Reynolds; and in the midwest, Louis and Nancy Neuman, and Raymond and Sarah Braddock. Howard and Anna Brinton were speakers at the first yearly meeting I attended, in 1971; Howard’s book, Friends for 300 Years, had just recently been published, and I bought a copy at the gathering and read it avidly.

The men in this generation had been conscientious objectors in World War II, and many couples had met while doing service work for the AFSC in Europe, after the war. These people were still vibrant and politically radical, even in their old age, taking part in civil rights and anti-war marches. Some of them were war tax resisters or were living deliberately ‘simple’ lives rather than — like most people in their generation — trying to acquire as many material goods as they could afford. And most of them had worked in lower-paying careers in social service work.

Earle Reynolds and his daughter Jessica, on the Phoenix, circa 1958.

Earle Reynolds has remained one of my heroes. He, along with his wife Barbara, had sailed his small ship, The Phoenix, into the atomic-weapons testing site in the South Pacific. When asked whether he was worried about the military detonating a weapon while he was in that area, he replied, “That’s their problem, not mine.” People like this were great role models for me, in my mid-twenties.

The most memorable event of my Pacific Yearly Meeting attendance, though, was the Meeting for Business in 1971, when the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, clerked by Earle, brought a minute endorsing amnesty for men who had evaded the draft by moving to Canada, but also (for balance, in a good Quaker way) for soldiers like Lieutenant Calley who had committed war crimes.

There were about 400 attenders at that Meeting for Business, and considerable discussion followed, much of it contentious. Many Friends were strongly opposed to granting amnesty for war crimes, while others argued for compassion and understanding for those (mostly young) soldiers who had, under the duress of war, committed acts that they normally would not have. Although Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had not yet been identified or named, some Friends clearly grasped the concept.

Eventually, the committee was tasked with doing more research on the amnesty question and bringing back a modified minute on the following day. In those pre-internet days, research meant going to the library and poring over books.

Pardons were one thing; amnesty was another.

The committee, and Earle in particular, spent many hours at the library, returning to the next meeting with some interesting information: the president does not have the power to grant amnesty, Congress does, and amnesty cannot be granted for what are called “common crimes” such as murder, although persons who are convicted of such crimes can be granted pardons by the executive branch.

At this subsequent meeting, a modified minute was brought forward, urging amnesty for the draft evaders and pardons for the soldiers committing war crimes. The minute was approved with little discussion this time, and there was a tangible sense of spiritual unity in the meeting such as I have rarely experienced. This incident introduced me to the idea that perpetrators of evil suffer just as do victims, albeit it in a different way.

Yet I had my struggles with Friends, even in those early years. I went through a crisis of faith in 1972 when I read about the tortures being perpetrated in the South Vietnamese prisons — tortures funded by U.S. taxpayers. Although we did not have photographs of these atrocities, as we did thirty years later from Iraq, I had a good enough imagination to visualize them, and they made me sick.

I was never able, though, to get Friends, as a group, to address the issue of human evil. Although I did meet a few individuals here and there, who had experienced some struggles with the issue of evil, I did not find anyone who seemed to have been as deeply affected by it as I had, who could not get it out of their mind. When I brought up my struggles over the torture issue in a discussion group at PYM in 1972 or 1973, another Friend told about her social work with a family headed by a single mother, whose new boyfriend refused to let her daughter from her previous marriage sleep in the house at night; the child had to sleep outdoors, under the porch.

I was horrified at this tale, as were several other Friends. Yet no one seemed to really be willing to address the issue of the evil that this incident represented. One Friend proposed that we all go and rescue this child. “Sure,” I thought, “that’s really likely to happen. And even if it did, what about all the other abused and neglected children, of which there are no doubt millions, all over the world?” Other Friends simply responded by saying that we all need to perform social justice work, and eventually situations like this would get fixed.

But clearly, there was way too much evil in the world to fix. People were suffering, horribly, in many ways. Millions of people, every day, day in, day out, year after year. I was overwhelmed by it all; I thought about it constantly, for years. Yet virtually no one was willing to talk about it; I did not maintain ongoing relationships with the few people I encountered who at least admitted that it was an issue, and Friends as a whole simply refused to discuss it, most offering only useless platitudes like those put forth in that discussion group where I had first brought up the issue.

So, I stopped trying to talk with Friends about evil, and tried to find other individuals here and there in my life, who were willing to acknowledge the existence of evil, and talk about it.

My first successful step in this direction was in 1983, when I started attending self-help groups. There I met people who had suffered and survived abuse and even torture, including many who had learned to cope with the wounds. Invariably, it was spirituality, of one kind or another, that had helped them through this process. . . .

What came of Marian Rhys’s continued grappling with the issue of evil in Quaker circles (and beyond)? Her answer is in the pages of Passing The Torch.

And don’t forget our Book Launch Party on Saturday Nov. 23, at Providence Friends Meeting, 105 N. Providence Rd. in Media PA, noon to 3PM. Free, with food, readings, authors to mingle with, and music from and about our generation.

You’re invited; (more details here. )

Previous posts featuring Passing The Torch Authors–
1. Barbara Berntsen

  1. Carter Nash
  2. Helena Cobban
  3. Why Passing the Torch? Why Now?

5. Douglas Gwyn: “I received a distinct calling”