2015 ESR Leadership Conference

Transformational Leadership and The Prophetic Witness

August 14-16, 2015
Featuring Keynote Speakers
Jay Marshall and Joyce Schroeder


In a world where ideals and standards sometimes lie unmet, the idea of transformation is appealing, especially in the area of leadership. Boards may be dissatisfied with an organization’s performance and insist on change. Leaders captivated by organizational vision, zealously work to leverage mission and objectives in a new direction. Those whose hopes for the future are fashioned by faith narratives in which God desires a differently ordered society long for and labor for a better day. An underlying desire in each scenario is to improve and elevate our life together toward a higher plane while addressing the crisis at hand, but questions persist. What constitutes improvement? Is all change progress? What is the transformation being sought? Whose values drive the change? Whose vision defines the direction? What ethics guide the decision?

Transformational leadership is born in moments like those. When the transformational leader embraces leadership as a spiritual exercise in which faith and vocation are inseparable, this work may, in fact, have points in common with the prophetic witness. The prophet, too, desires to improve and elevate with their persuasive rhetoric and symbolic actions while addressing the crisis at hand. They, too, are driven by a vision grounded in values and ethics. In the case of the prophets, this effort is clearly rooted in their understanding of faith. As Friends and the organizations they create lead out of their spiritual leadings and leanings as an expression of their faith, their work can be a contemporary version of the prophetic witness.

For more information, contact Mandy Ford, Director of External Relations, at fordma@earlham.edu.

Keynote Presentations

When Leading for Change Simply Isn’t Enough: Leadership as Prophetic Witness with Jay Marshall (video)

Transformational leadership intends to unify and inspire a group towards a higher calling. This inevitably involves change and innovation. A group’s ability to develop and transform may be a key to success, but without careful thought, change can become mindless, as though it is the end goal rather than a means to fulfilling the mission. Prophets, too, intend to inspire change toward a higher calling. Often possessed by a defiant certitude, they insist that a group’s willingness to change is intimately connected with its chance for survival. 

Prophets are customarily associated with religious movements and political commentary, but there may be room for the prophetic witness in transformational leadership as well! Can innovation be more than merely a good idea? Can working for change be more than an effort to remain fresh and attractive to our constituencies? Persons for whom faith and spirituality are important face the challenge of integrating those values and principles into their acts of leadership, even as they lead change and aim for success. With a bit of reflection and intention, these commitments utilize opportunities for transformational leadership to offer a prophetic witness that helps the organization model its work after and advocate for its perception of God’s higher calling.

Jay Marshall is Dean of Earlham School of Religion, having served in that capacity since 1998.  Prior to that, he was a pastoral minister in North Carolina and Indiana Yearly Meetings. In addition to the usual responsibilities of a dean, Jay teaches and writes on the topic of leadership with a particular interest in how Quaker principles can contribute to the discussion. His most recent publication, “Quaker Contributions to an Integration of Spirituality and Leadership,” appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Journal of Religious Leadership.

Living our True Purpose with Joyce Schroeder (video)

We live in a world in need of spiritual renewal, healing and connection. St. Paul exhorts us in his letter to the Romans that we, as Christians, are endowed with gifts and we are called to use them. Whereas many of us regularly answer this leading, others of us often fall short of this ideal. This session will put forth the notion that the questions we ask ourselves coupled with the moving of the spirit helps us determine our true purpose. Every day we are faced with opportunities to live our purpose and make a difference. Often times, it is the daily choices we make that can have the biggest impact on our families and our communities and in our workplace.

Joyce Schroeder, M.S. has been following her leading to share her knowledge of organizational change and leadership with Friends.  She believes that the tools and concepts she teaches to organizations can be of value to Friends as they consider the role of leadership in both their monthly meetings and in the wider society. She presented her findings about Quaker leadership when she was the keynote speaker at the Earlham School of Religion Leadership Conference in 2012. In 2014, she was the Plenary Speaker at New York Yearly Meeting's Summer Sessions. Ms. Schroeder has a Masters Degree in Organizational Development and Leadership.  In her capacity as a consultant, she has helped to improve working relationships between union and management in some of the best managed companies in the United States.


Are You Really Welcome Here? – Brent Bill

For a people who call themselves Friends, sometimes we Quakers are decidedly un-Friendly, especially to newcomers. Did you know that almost 15,000 people visit Quaker meetings in the United States and Canada every year?  And almost 15,000 don't make a return visit? Hmmm, could that be that we Friends are not that good at being welcoming?

This interactive workshop will consider the current state of many Friends attitudes toward outreach, evangelism, publicity, and welcoming as forms of negative proselytization. This attitude exists despite the fact that more than one-third of contemporary Friends were not born Quaker.

We will look at why we need to change our attitude. We will also explore what we can learn from QuakerQuest and the New Meetings Project. These Friends General Conference programs have helped start a culture shift regarding outreach and welcoming among unprogrammed and programmed Friends. We will examine how to shift to new ways of thinking and acting regarding sharing the Quaker story and consider resources that can help us in that endeavor. We will also share together things that we have found helpful in telling our meetings stories and welcoming and including new Friends who join us.

Brent Bill is the coordinator of FGC's New Meetings Project, which helps Friends establish new Quaker meetings in the United States and Canada. He's also a writer, photographer, retreat leader, and Quaker minister.  He's written or co-written many books including: Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer, Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God, and Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment. He is a graduate of Wilmington College and the Earlham School of Religion and has served as a local church pastor, denominational executive, congregational consultant, and go-cart track operator.

Toward a Responsible Leadership – Ramon Gonzalez Longoria Escalona

Learning from themes found in the Old Testament story of Nehemiah, combined with experiences in the formation of the Cuban Quaker Institute for Peace, this workshop will explore the questions such as “What is transforming leadership? What are the implications and risks of being a prophetic voice today? How can we discover and test it?”

Ramon Gonzalez Longoria Escalona was born in Gibara, Holguín province, Cuba. His mother was a Quaker and he was educated in and formed by Quaker principles and testimonies. He was studying electrical engineering at Oriente University when he heard God’s call. He earned a Bachelor’s in Theology from Theological Evangelical Seminary and has served as a pastor and recorded minister in Puerto Padre Monthly Meeting for 31 years, and presently in Gibara Monthly Meeting. Ramon has held numerous positions in Cuba Yearly Meeting, including Recording Clerk and Presiding Clerk, representing Cuba YM at FUM and at FWCC, where he is currently Presiding Clerk. He has been the Director of the Cuban Quaker Institute of Peace since 2012, is married, has three grown sons and daughter and 4 grandchildren.

Peace: a noble goal, but is it possible? – Diana Hadley & David Weatherspoon

The dream of “The Peace Class,” a book whose title also suggests that there could be a class of people who could transform the world to practice peaceful conflict resolution, evolved from observing and absorbing the power of nonviolence from the study of successful peace initiatives and the people who have led them.
Although the classes that inspired the book were not taught on a “peace college” campus, we were amazed at our students’ interest in nonviolent strategies and the belief that the strategies are relevant for today’s conflict challenges. The irony of the book is the reaction among some longtime Quakers who say that although they have always thought peaceful strategies were the best moral choices in conflicts, they haven’t been convinced that they are always the most pragmatic options. However, there are new resources that provide information about the success of nonviolent strategies that are not just encouraging but inspiring. This workshop will provide the opportunity to explore these resources and interact with workshop participants to either visit for the first time or revisit the transformational power of peaceful people and movements that made a difference in the world as we explore the possibilities for peace today and tomorrow.

Diana Hadley

taught English and journalism and advised student media at Mooresville High School for 33 years.  She has worked at Franklin College since 2004 where she is executive directory of the Indiana High School Press Association and has taught journalism classes and a liberal arts course in nonviolence. A product of the nonviolence class is the book The Peace Class co-­‐authored with her teaching partner David Weatherspoon. Hadley’s B.A. and M.A. degrees in English, Communications and Journalism are from Purdue University and Indiana University respectively. She is a member of the Earlham College Board of Trustees.

David Weatherspoon

holds a BA in religion from Belmont University, and an MDiv from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology. David served as college chaplain at Franklin College from 2004-2014.  While at Franklin College, he helped students find opportunities for faith discovery through chapel services, interfaith engagement, mission work, spiritual formation, as well as one-on-one conversation.
David also co-taught a course on nonviolence with Diana Hadley. Recently, Diana and David co-authored The Peace Class in response to the experience of teaching the nonviolence course. David currently serves as a pediatric chaplain at Le Bonheur Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Environmental Sustainability: A Survey of Progress within Kendal Retirement Communities 2007 to 2015 – David Jones

This workshop will feature a presentation by David Jones, a Project Director at Kendal, who will provide an overview of his experience helping lead the implementation of Sustainability as a core value throughout the Kendal System.  He will review the variety of sustainable, or green, initiatives that Kendal continuing care retirement communities have undertaken over the past several years, as well as the approach that Kendal undertook to develop Sustainability as a priority in 12 retirement communities.  He will discuss the role of the board, staff, and residents in the overall effort and in the day-to-day implementation of various initiatives.  David will present an overview of projects and processes large and small, successful and disappointing, and address some of the opportunities and challenges that Kendal and other Quaker organizations face as they strives to live their values and make a difference in this important area.  

David Jones joined Exxon as an exploration geologist, holding technical and management positions in Texas for 13 years after graduation from Earlham and the University of Wisconsin. In 1992, he moved back home to Chester County, Pa., and began work for The Kendal Corporation, a not-for-profit, Quaker organization that builds and operates retirement communities.  David has served as Project Director for Kendal’s new projects, renovations and expansions for the past 22 years.  He also works closely with not-for-profit Boards, guiding them through the complexities of major development projects, and has facilitated the sustainability initiative among the 12 Kendal communities over the past eight years.  David has served as trustee for Westtown School and Earlham College as is active in his Monthly Meeting and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. David and Sallie have three grown children.

Relational Presence:  Discovering Sacred Space in Decision Making - Samuel Mahaffy

Decision-making, as it is often practiced, is killing our spirits.  Torn between the drive for efficiency and participation, our decision-making processes often leave deeply wounded relationships and unhappy participants behind. We bring forward relational presence as a life-giving approach that moves beyond consensus decision-making.  We can do better than simply ‘agreeing to no longer disagree.’  Practicing relational listening, beyond active listening, involves mimetic movement--a dance of self-discovery and other-discovery. Beyond simply tolerance for differing views, there is the place where every voice is heard and honored. This is a journey to the quietly inviting place of decision making where a gathered community meets with attentiveness, welcomes the stranger, and in so doing both embraces new insights and values unknowing. We can discover the sacredness of the space we occupy together, allowing the shared wisdom that is deeper than individual opinions to emerge. The presenter draws on his experience growing up in East Africa and international peacemaking work to develop the metaphor of eating from a common dish in the context of decision-making. For the healing of our institutional life and this earth, we must make our meetings about communion with each other, instead of conflict.

Samuel Mahaffy is an organizational consultant with extensive experience in conflict transformation and peacemaking. He brings the notion of Relational Presence to his global voice for peacemaking and justice.  He has assisted more than five hundred organizations including nonprofits and faith-based organizations. The Appreciative Inquiry process he facilitates, allows communities to honor the relational complexity of both their connectedness and their shared woundedness.  Samuel Mahaffy seeks integral, collaborative, and relational perspectives on human engagement.  This led to his PhD dissertation with Tilburg University in the Netherlands on Relational Presence: The Spatiality of Breakthrough Decision Making through a Relational Constructionist Lens

Strategic Planning on a Thin Dime - Robin Mohr

Do we even need a strategic plan? What makes it strategic? Is that Quakerly? What good will it do? What if we can’t afford a fancy consultant? How can we use the resources we have? This workshop will look briefly at why Quaker organizations, large or small, might want to develop a strategic plan, and spend more time on how to use what you already have to make it possible and worthwhile. We will talk about best practices and our real-world choices. If your organization (or one you’ve worked with before) has a strategic plan, bring a copy, whether it’s up to date or not.

Robin Mohr has served as Executive Secretary of the Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas since 2011. In 2015, the Section adopted a new strategic plan, “Weaving the Tapestry 2015-2020.” fwccamericas.org/about_us. Over the last 25 years, Robin has worked in administration, fundraising, and planning for a half-dozen non-profit organizations, in D.C, New York, and San Francisco. She and her husband Christopher are now members of Green Street Monthly Meeting in Philadelphia YM and have two sons, now in middle and high school. She writes for Quaker magazines, books and her own blog, What Canst Thou Say? robinmsf.blogspot.com.

For the Love of the Earth: Nurturing Spirit-led Change  – Katherine Murray

Are you concerned about what you see in the news about climate disruption, species edging toward extinction, the shrinking of polar ice caps, and the dangerous practices of fracking, mountaintop removal, and more? Do you worry about the dwindling number of bees in your yard, the threat to our bat populations, or what seems to be a growing imbalance in ecosystems near and far? Come to this workshop to find your center in the chaotic landscape of alarming media reports. Bring your worries and fears along with your love and hope, and find the seeds of enlightened action in your spirit-led love of our planet. We'll reflect, mourn, and celebrate together and emerge with hopeful ideas, a nourished and reclaimed relationship with nature, and a sense of community and possibility.

Katherine Murray is the publications coordinator of Quaker Earthcare Witness, a North American non-profit organization, and the hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator at Hancock Regional Hospice in Greenfield, Indiana. She also teaches Eco-Spirituality as an elective at ESR and has written two books on nurturing our relationships with nature: Listening to the Earth: Meditations on Experiencing and Belonging to Nature (Lorian Press, 2011) and A Simple Guide to Eco-Spirituality (Luminis Books, 2012).

FCNL: A Prophetic, Persistent and Powerful Quaker Witness in Washington - Emily Wirzba

Join FCNL’s Emily Wirzba for a discussion about how training the current and next generation of advocate leaders can transform our national policy and dialogue on climate change. Through sustained engagement on a local and national level, FCNL seeks to shape policy outcomes to better reflect the values of Friends around the country. How do we shape public narratives about climate change at a time of extreme political division? What is transformational about relationship building for policy change? Why is persistent citizen lobbying from a place of faith so important, despite the lack of action on climate change? Join the conversation and let Emily help explain.

Emily Wirzba is the policy associate for the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Program, working with Jose Aguto to achieve bipartisan recognition of climate change in Congress through the Call to Conscience on Climate Disruption. She has been with FCNL since August of 2013, and originally started out as a Young Fellow. Emily graduated from Furman University in 2013 with BAs in philosophy and political science and a minor in poverty studies. She received the Donaldson-Watkins Medal for the most outstanding female graduate in her class. Her academic passions are seeing where faith, ethics and policy intersect with environmental and social justice issues. Emily worked for two summers at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, interned at a homeless shelter and service provider called Urban Ministries of Durham, and studied abroad in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba.

Panel Presentations

Panel 1: Vision for a Transformed Church (video)

Micah Bales

Micah Bales is a writer, teacher, and grassroots Christian leader living in Washington, DC. He is a founder of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship, a network of communities and ministries gathered around a common experience of Jesus Christ in our midst. Learn more at www.micahbales.com.

C. Wess Daniels 

C. Wess Daniels is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College. He has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and served as a released minister at Camas Friends Church for six years. His recently published book, A Convergent Model of Renewal: Remixing The Quaker Tradition in Participatory Culture, sets out to describe a model of renewal that takes into account both tradition and innovation while fostering participatory community. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, reading liberation theology, roasting coffee, listening to vinyl, and riding his motorcycle. Find him online at twitter.com/cwdaniels.

Callid Keefe-Perry

Callid Keefe-Perry is a husband and father. He is a member of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting of New England Yearly Meeting and travels in the Ministry within and beyond Friends’ denomination. Currently he is completing his PhD in Theological Studies at Boston University, where he focuses on Practical Theology and Religious Education. Broadly his work is at the intersection of imaginative and creative practices and their connection to pedagogy and spiritual formation. His current research relates to the development of a public theology of public education and the ways our schools spiritually affect youth. He is the author of Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer and is one of the founding members of the journal, THEOPOETICS. He is currently the Chairperson of the Board for the Transformative Language Arts Network and is also one of the co-hosts of the progressive Christian podcast, “Homebrewed Christianity.” More about Callid is available via CallidKeefePerry.com.

Anna Woofenden

Rev. Anna Woofenden is the founding pastor of The Garden Church in San Pedro California. She received her Masters of Divinity from Earlham School of Religion, a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies, and is an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. She has sixteen years of ministry experience both on a denominational and local level prior to following her call to ordained ministry. Anna has a passion for spirituality, justice, beauty, compassion, and community, and is driven by a calling to re-imagine church. Anna grew up in the San Juan Islands in Washington State, has lived around the country and traveled throughout the world, and is always glad to come back to the Pacific Ocean. She enjoys nature, gardening, art, children, writing, community, singing, laughter, and a good cup of Chai.

Panel 2: Quaker Ethics in Today's Economy (video)

Karen Tibbals

Karen has had a long standing interest in applying religious faith to business life. She recently completed her MA in Quaker Studies from ESR, for which she studied Quaker businesses and how they applied their religious faith to that portion of their lives. She is acting clerk of the newly formed Quakers & Business movement and is starting a consulting practice after a long career in pharmaceutical market research.

Ray Ontko

Ray Ontko is President of Doxpop, LLC, a web-based information service employing 15 people located in Richmond, Indiana. Doxpop provides online access to local government information and services. Ray is active in Whitewater Monthly Meeting (First Friends Richmond) where he currently serves as chair of the First Friends Church Foundation. He is the Secretary of the Earlham Board of Trustees, Treasurer of the Richmond Community Orchestra, and President of the Richmond Shakespeare Festival. He also serves on the Advisory Plan Commission for the City of Richmond. Ray is married to Sharon, has two grown children and two grandchildren.

Jeff Perkins

Jeff Perkins is the Executive Director of Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker non-profit organization that provides professional, low cost, socially responsible investment management services to Friends meetings, churches and organizations. Jeff has over 35 years of financial management experience working in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Before joining Friends Fiduciary, he was Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration at The Franklin Institute. He has served on a number of non-profit boards. Jeff is a longtime Friend and currently a member of Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting in Philadelphia where he served as Treasurer and on the Finance, Worship & Ministry and Peace & Social Concerns committees.

Pam Leland

Pamela Leland, PhD, currently serves as Executive Director of The Hickman, a Quaker-affiliated senior living community in West Chester, PA. A former university professor and consultant, she joined The Hickman as Executive Director in 2013. Pam is a member of London Grove Monthly Meeting (near Kennett Square, PA) and recently concluded her term as Clerk of Western Quarter. Pam can be reached at pleland@thehickman.org.

Friday, August 14th


5:00 pm

Registration Begins

5:15 pm


6:30 pm

Plenary Session - Jay Marshall

7:45 pm

Anchor Groups



Saturday, August 15th


8:00 am

Optional Open Worship

8:45 am


9:30 am

Plenary Session - Joyce Schroeder

10:45 am


11:00 am

Workshop Session I

12:30 pm


1:30 pm

Workshop Session II

3:00 pm


3:45 pm

Anchor Groups

5:00 pm


6:15 pm

Panel Discussion - Visions for a Transformed Church



Sunday, August 16th


8:00 am

Optional Open Worship

8:45 am


9:30 am

Panel Discussion - Quaker Ethics in Today's Economy

11:00 am

Anchor Groups

12:00 pm



08/14/2015 (All day) - 08/16/2015 (All day)