Help Wanted 2010
On that note, have you noticed how many of the major Quaker institutions (and a few minor ones) have been or are now, or will be soon, looking for new executive leadership in the course of about two years?
American Friends Service Committee (2010)There’s probably more. Which ones have I left out? (Is there a clearinghouse somewhere for announcements and job descriptions?)
Ben Lomond Quaker Center (2011)
Friends Committee on National Legislation (2010)
Friends General Conference (2011)
Friends Journal (2011)
Friends United Meeting (nominated 2010, starting 2012)
Friends World Committee for Consultation (2011)
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (2008)
Quaker House (in Fayetteville, NC) (2012)
Western Friend (2008)
***Here's two more:
QUNO Geneva [added thanks to Eden Grace, 10/9]***And even more, now with dates thanks to Kathy Hyzy, 1/27/11:
Earlham College [brought to my attention by Martin Kelley, 12/8]
Woolman Semester (2008)One Friend I know got interviewed for one of these jobs and the first question the committee asked was, “Out of all the Quaker jobs open right now, why do you want this one?”
Friends Fiduciary Corporation (2011)
Quaker Earthcare Witness (2011)
Quaker United Nations Office/New York (2008)
Northwest Yearly Meeting (2012)
Why do you think this is all happening at once? Is it just time in the generational cycle? Is it because the financial crisis of the last couple of years has been so hard on executive directors?
This looks like a wider nonprofit trend of long-time executive leaders leaving. About 10 years ago, there was a big fuss in the nonprofit world about a survey that showed that half of all executive directors planned to leave their jobs in the next five years. Then five years ago, another survey showed that the massive shift hadn’t happened but that most EDs still planned to leave in the next five years. I think that we are now seeing that shift starting to happen among the Baby Boomers who founded organizations in the 70s and 80s. It’s complicated by the economic recession, and by the fact that Boomers are living longer in better health and so working longer too. I highly recommend a book by Frances Kunreuther, Helen Kim and Robby Rodriguez, called Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership.
I don’t know enough about evangelical Friends organizations, but there aren’t any on this list. Why not? Did they already go through a shift or are they just about to enter this phase? Or am I just not in their loop?
I’m wondering how many of these jobs will go to another Baby Boomer. (It’s two out of three for the ones I know of that are already filled.) [Update: Seven out of ten as of February 2011.] What kinds of risks are the hiring committees/boards willing to take on less experienced Friends? Will they just hire another Boomer to stay another 2-5 years? Will we have another generation of 20-30 year tenures at the tops of these of organizations?
Will all these institutions survive this once in a lifetime mass shift in leadership? How many will move in new and vibrant directions? Are there too many openings at one time? Are there enough younger Friends who are ready, willing and able to take on new responsibilities? To take on the hard work and hard choices? To commit?
New wine needs new wineskins with every harvest. But not a whole new winecellar every year, just to continue the metaphor. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of saying “I did it my way,” or “We sure showed them.” Then again, when your winecellar starts to cave in, it may be time to move the whole house.
Organizations help to coordinate the matching of resources with missions. Structure can be helpful. Systems liberate. Creativity flourishes best without complete chaos surrounding it. One lone ranger, or a small, committed group of citizens, can do some things for a short time, but organizing materials, money and manpower takes infrastructure to run smoothly. What would a GenX Quaker institution look like? What about a Millenial Quaker organization?
Honestly, I don’t know or even have a fixed opinion on what should happen. These organizations vary widely in size, complexity and mission. Some are on firmer financial and spiritual footings than others. But all will depend on, contribute to, and have to face either the diminishment or the revitalization of the Religious Society of Friends.
In an era of reduced budgets and growing unrest, what does the future hold for the Religious Society of Friends?
Where do you see yourself?
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