2012 ESR Leadership Conference "Leading Change: Faithful Listening, Creative Results"

August 10-12, 2012

[attendee list (password protected PDF)]

Featuring Plenary Speakers:

Joyce Schroeder - Rethinking Quaker Leadership[video]

Thomas Jeavons - Business Practice, Spiritual Practice,and Leading Change: Blurring Lines & Looking for Insights [video]

Quakers in Business Panels will discuss:

"Doing Well/Doing Good" [video]

"Leading in/to the Ether: Leadership, Power and Authority in the Facebook, Blogging, Skyping Age" [video]

Workshops will include:

Irene McHenry: “Catch the Leading Edge of Change: Freeing the Leaders Within for Collaborative, Generative Outcomes“

Rob Pierson: “Leading Change…by Being Present”

Margaret Benefiel: “Immunity to Change: Individuals/Organizational”

Dwight Wilson: “Power and Authority: How to Use It for the Betterment of the Mission”

Larry Spears: “Servant-Leadership, Robert K. Greenleaf, and Quaker Inspiration”

Mary Ann Downey: “Building Trust Amid Change”

Registration Information

Full conference including 6 meals: $200
Register by June 29th: $175

Saturday only conference and three meals: $145
Register by June 29th: $120

Student Rate: $100 for full conference

Download, print, and mail in your Registration Form (PDF).

For more information contact Matthew Mosey at moseyma@earlham.edu or call (800) 432-1377

Plenary Sessions

Joyce Schroeder: “Rethinking Quaker Leadership”

Too much of the conversation about Quaker leadership is aspirational and theoretical. This session will draw upon real data culled from an online survey and interviews to give us a deeper understanding of the current state of Quaker leadership. While many offer servant leadership as the best leadership style for Quakers, this session will put forth the notion that this is just one of the many leadership styles required to deal with the challenges and opportunities we face in our meetings. Moving from the theoretical to the practical, it will propose a set of leadership behaviors that are grounded in organizational development thought and supported by actions taken by Jesus and other spiritual leaders. Further, it will outline a framework that can help Friends enhance their ability to become inwardly-focused, outwardly-effective leaders in their Quaker communities.

Thom Jeavons: “Business Practice, Spiritual Practice, and Leading Change: Blurring Lines & Looking for Insights” [video]

In recent decades modern management practice has paid increasing attention to the “soft side” of organizations – focusing on social dynamics, human relations, even ethics – in efforts to create organizations that are more effective in fulfilling their missions. Some Quakers were pioneers in creating successful businesses that were very profitable despite Friends uneasiness about acquiring significant wealth. We also know over many years Friends have been leaders in government and philanthropic efforts to improve the welfare of society as a whole. Our history suggests a positive relationship between a commitment to clear spiritual and moral values and success as a leader in these nominally “secular” spheres. This session will explore the ways in which some central values and ideals of Quakerism (and other spiritual traditions) intersect with business and management practices to shape and undergird leadership that works in enhancing the effectiveness of organizations in changing times.

Workshop Descriptions

First Session

Irene McHenry: “Catch the Leading Edge of Change: Freeing the Leaders Within for Collaborative, Generative Outcomes“

How can we inspire our organizations and meeting communities to have conversations in generative mode? How can we mine the crucial information that often appears in difficult conversations? How can we vector our workplaces and communities toward their most creative leading edge for truly generative thinking, planning, visioning and work?

Rob Pierson: “Leading Change…by Being Present”

“The Leader’s main job… is to create an emotional atmosphere in which greater calmness exists – to be a less anxious presence.” – Ronald Richardson
You may have seen the button: I’m a Quaker: In case of emergency, please be silent. We laugh, but when have we, as leaders in meeting, work family or community led – and led best – by simply being present? Very often presence is the simple gift that enables a group to break through “stuckness,” and transform a crisis into a turning point of renewal and transformation. What is this mysterious power of presence, can we cultivate it, and how does it relate to the power of the Presence working in our midst? This workshop combines Quaker experience with insights from Leadership studies and Family Systems. We will share our stories while learning from examples that range from the Gospels to the corporate board room.

Margaret Benefiel: “Immunity to Change: Individuals”

Have you ever tried to break a habit and found it more difficult than you expected?  Have you ever been part of a change effort at your church or workplace that didn't work out as planned?  If your answer to either of these questions is "yes," this workshop is for you. Based on the book by the same title by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, this workshop helps you reflect on your own "immunity to change."  Through an experiential, interactive process, participants will identity goals they would like to achieve, uncover their own "immune" systems, and discover how to break the grip of their immunity to change. They will then identify goals of their organizations, uncover their organizations’ “immune” systems, and discover how to break the grip of their organizations’ immunity to change.

Dwight Wilson: “Power and Authority: How to Use It for the Betterment of the Mission”

This workshop will focus on the symbiosis of power (what is inherent in the position) and authority (the weight that one has as a result of one's own life experiences and ability to affect change). Participants will consider how position and personality may spill beyond an organization and how changes in position affect the human components of an organization.  Other topics include volunteering and working with other leaders.

Second Session

Larry Spears: “Servant-Leadership, Robert K. Greenleaf, and Quaker Inspiration”

In this session, participants will learn how Robert K. Greenleaf’s experiences as a Friend influenced his thinking and writing on servant-leadership—a term coined by Bob Greenleaf in 1970, and an idea which may ultimately prove to be one of the greatest influences of Quaker-inspired thought in the world. Serving first, then choosing to lead has taken hold in the hearts of many people, and in such non-Quaker institutions as Starbucks, The Men’s Wearhouse, and Southwest Airlines.

Mary Ann Downey: “Building Trust Amid Change”

Meeting communities are often challenged by change from internal and external demands.  Our focus will be on helping leaders create a safe space and a climate of trust that: 1. encourages conversation about concerns; 2. requires respectful speaking and listening; and 3. teaches openness to discovering a third way.

Margaret Benefiel: “Immunity to Change: Organizational”

This workshop will build on Margaret’s first workshop, which focused on individual immunity to change and move to the organizational level. See her first workshop description for details.

Plenary Speakers

Joyce Schroeder is an organizational change consultant with a Masters Degree in Organizational Development and Leadership. She has extensive experience working with groups, designing and implementing customized culture change and leadership interventions. She has been a member of Purchase Friends Meeting for the past 16 years where she tapped into her knowledge of leadership to help her clerk her monthly meeting. She believes there are lessons to be learned from the study of organizations that should be part of the conversation about Quaker leadership.

Thomas Jeavons is the Executive Director of ARNOVA, the national and international network of scholars and teachers who focus on philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. Over the last three decades, when he has not been working in higher education, he has twice served in leadership among Friends as the General Secretary for Philadelphia YM, and before that for Baltimore YM. He holds an M.A. in theology from ESR, and a Ph.D. in Management from the Union Institute.

Workshop Presenters

Irene McHenry

, PhD, psychologist, school consultant, author/editor of Governance Handbook for Friends Schools and Tuning In: Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning, has founded two Quaker schools and leads the Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools. She is executive director of Friends Council on Education, board president of Council for American Private Education, a Haverford College trustee, and member of Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting.

Rob Piersonis a systems engineer, Quaker writer and artist. A recent ESR graduate, he serves his monthly meeting (Albuquerque), yearly meeting (IMYM), and in both technical and corporate roles at a technology development company. He has helped form and guide an industry association, professional society and non-profit organization.

Margaret Benefiel Ph.D., Executive Officer of Executive Soul, LLC, offers consulting, coaching, and spiritual direction for leaders and organizations. She is adjunct faculty at Andover Newton Theological School in Boston and visiting lecturer at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. She held the O'Donnell Chair of Spirituality at the Milltown Institute in Dublin in 2003-4. Dr. Benefiel has served as Chair of the Academy of Management's Management, Spirituality, and Religion Group and has also served in various leadership roles in Spiritual Directors International. Over 800 executives, managers, and other leaders have participated in her seminars and courses. She is the author of Soul At Work (Seabury, 2005) and The Soul of a Leader (Crossroad, 2008), and co-editor of The Soul of Supervision (Morehouse, 2010). Dr. She is a member of Beacon Hill Friends Meeting in Boston and lives in Boston with her husband. She enjoys hiking, cycling, reading novels, and scuba diving.

Dwight Wilson received his B.A. magna cum laude in history and sociology from Bowdoin College and a Master of Divinity degree in theology and counseling from Bangor Theological Seminary. From 2002 to 2009, he was Head of Friends School in Detroit, and he also served as executive director of Mariana Bracetti Academy in Philadelphia and as Dean of Students, Assistant Upper School Director, and Chair of the Social Studies Department at Moorestown Friends School. Early in his career, he served as General Secretary and Executive Director of the Meetinghouse Fund at Friends General Conference. He is now retired and serves on the Boards of Interfaith Council for Peace Justice, SafeHouse (domestic abuse prevention) Center and the Earlham School of Religion. He currently attends the Ann Arbor Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and previously attended Moorestown Meeting in South New Jersey.

Larry C. Spears has a long history of working with Friends and Quaker organizations. In 1977, he worked with AFSC’s National Campaign to Stop the B-1 Bomber, and with the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors from 1978-1981. In the 1980’s, Larry worked with Friends Journal and later served on its Board of Managers for ten years. He was also Managing Director of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium, based at Bryn Mawr College, from 1987-1990. In 1990, Larry was appointed President & CEO of The Robert Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership, in Indianapolis, where he served for seventeen years. In 2008, he launched The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership (Indianapolis); and, in 2010, he was appointed Servant-Leadership Scholar at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Larry is the author/editor of a dozen books on servant-leadership, including The Spirit of Servant-Leadership (2011, Paulist Press). He serves as Senior Advisory Editor for The International Journal of Servant-Leadership (2006-Present). His 2004 appearance on NBC’s Dateline was seen by ten million viewers.

Mary Ann Downey grew up in Southern Baptist church community in Asheville, NC. where Bible reading, memorizing scripture and singing hymns became the foundation for her spiritual journey. She came to Friends through demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and working with the American Friends Service Committee, and became a member of the Atlanta Friends Meeting in 1983. She now serves the Traveling Ministries Program of Friends General Conference, and lead workshops at the annual Gathering on a regular basis. She was part of a group at Earlham College who worked under a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to develop the books, Building Consensus: Conflict and Unity for adults, and Friendly Consensus: Speak, Listen Unite for teen students. As Director of Decision Bridges, she offers a Quaker perspective to groups of adults and students (Quaker and non Quaker) on building community, resolving conflict and facilitating meetings seeking Spirit-led unity. She is interested in the ministry of writing for Friends, served on the Board of Trustees for Friends Journal and has published essays in the Journal on her struggle with faith. She also served on the Board of Advisors for Earlham School of Religion and holds a BA, MED and MSW from the University of North Carolina. See www.decisionbridges.com for more information.

Business Panel Presenters

Panel 1: Doing Well/Doing Good [video]

Norval Reece is an international cable television entrepreneur, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Commerce, and former clerk of Newtown Friends Meeting (PA). He is on the boards of Haverford College Corporation, Earlham School of Religion, Friends Fiduciary Corporation, and a graduate of DePauw University and Yale Divinity School.

N. Chiyo Moriuchi is a life-long Friend with 30 years experience in investment management, real estate, and banking in the United States and Asia. She is committed to the vitality of Quakerism and Quaker institutions and wishes to let her life speak by finding business solutions in support of the common good.  She is a graduate of Moorestown Friends School, Mount Holyoke College and Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. She is an active member of her Friends Meeting in Newtown, PA (Bucks Quarter, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting) where she resides with her husband and two children.

Bill Quigg is the President of Richmond Baking Company. A Richmond native and Richmond High School graduate, Quigg earned a Bachelor's degree in Human Resources and a Master's in Business Administration from Miami University in Oxford, OH. 

John D. Spears is a managing director of Tweedy, Browne Company LLC, a New York City based investment management and brokerage firm, which he joined in 1974, and became a general partner one year later at age 26. Tweedy Browne manages approximately $11.4 billion of portfolio assets for individuals, charities, college endowments and pension plans through separate portfolios and two mutual funds, Tweedy, Browne Global Value Fund and Tweedy, Browne American Value Fund. John studied at the Babson Institute of Business Administration, Drexel Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania — The Wharton School. John began attending Princeton Quaker Meeting in the late 1970’s and became a member of Princeton Monthly Meeting in 1986. He has served on the Overseers Committee at Princeton Meeting, and has also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Mercer Street Friends Center, a Quaker-affiliated charity that serves poor people in the inner-city of Trenton, New Jersey. He have been a telecommuter for almost seventeen years, and divides his time between homes in Florida and New Jersey and Tweedy, Browne’s office in New York.

Jim Perkins is a semi-retired farmer, rancher, as well as an entrepreneur focusing on wind energy and crude oil and natural gas production in the Flint Hills of southeast Kansas. Jim graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in Agricultural Economics. He has spent 35 years on the board of trustees of Friends University, Wichita, KS, including seven years as chair. One of the founding members and current board member of Wichita Friends School, a pre-k3-6th grade school in Wichita, KS, Jim enjoys fundraising for schools and organizations.

Panel 2: Leading in/to the Ether: Leadership, Power and Authority in the Facebook, Blogging, Skyping Age [video]

Gabriel Ehri is Executive Director at Friends Publishing Corporation, an independent nonprofit with a 185-year legacy.   Friends Journal, the monthly magazine, and friendsjournal.org together reach tens of thousands of Quakers, seekers, and fellow travelers worldwide.  A Seattle native and lifelong Friend, Gabe lives in Philadelphia with his wife and son.

Brent Bill is writer, photographer, retreat leader, and Quaker minister. He’s written and co-written many books including Awaken Your Senses, Sacred Compass, and Holy Silence.  Brent serves as the executive vice president of the Indianapolis Center for Congregations that serves congregations in Indiana through consulting, grant-making, and education activities.

Penny Sitler is the advertising manager for Draper, Inc. in Spiceland, Indiana, a leading manufacturer of projection screens, window shades, and gymnasium equipment. She has championed social media as it has grown to be a key part of Draper's marketing mix, building a strong Twitter presence and establishing the company blog. Penny also serves on the board of Earlham College, and attends Dublin Friends Meeting, where she participates in music and ministry with her husband Chris and teenage children Daniel and Mariah.

Robin Mohr is the Executive Secretary for the Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas. She is a member of San Francisco Monthly Meeting (Pacific Yearly Meeting). She is married, with two young sons. Her blog, What Canst Thou Say?, can be found at http://robinmsf.blogspot.com/.

Katherine Murray is a Quaker, writer, and spiritual director, and the author of more than 60 non-fiction books related to technology, business, and spirituality. A blogger since 2002, Katherine uses various social media to further ideas and share her work.


Friday August 10



5:30 pm



6:00 pm

Dinner and First Plenary Session

Joyce Schroeder - Rethinking Quaker Leadership

Saturday August 11



 8:00 - 8:45 am

Open Worship


 8:45 - 9:30 am



 9:30 am



 9:45 am - 11:15 am

Second Plenary Session

Thomas Jeavons - Business Practice, Spiritual Practice, and Leading Change: Blurring Lines & Looking for Insights

 11:15 am -12:00 pm

Anchor Groups*


 12:00 -1:00 pm

Lunch with Interest Tables


 1:15 - 2:45 pm

First Workshop Session


 2:45 - 3:00 pm

Coffee/Tea Break


 3:00 - 4:30 pm

Second Workshop Session


 4:30 - 5:15 pm

Free time


 5:30 - 6:30 pm



 6:30 pm Quakers in Business Panel Doing Well/Doing Good

Sunday August 12



 8:00 - 8:45 am

Open Worship


 8:45 - 9:30 am



 9:30 - 10:45 am

Quakers in Business Panel

Leading in/to the Ether: Leadership, Power and Authority in the Facebook, Blogging, Skyping Age

 11:00 - 11:45 am

Anchor Groups*


 12:00 - 1:00 pm



Event Date: 08/10/2012 - 5:30pm - 08/12/2012 - 1:00pm