Friends Council Timeline 1931 - 2021

Friends Council Timeline 1931 - 2021

Hadassah Leeds

1931 Led by Hadassah and Morris Leeds, representatives from three yearly meetings, Friends General Conference, twelve secondary schools, thirteen elementary schools, and three Quaker colleges found the Friends Council on Education: “a national consultative organization for all Quaker schools." 

Adelbert Mason, Executive Director (1977-88)​​​​​​

Friends Council issues its first publication to 300 educators, John Lester’s The Place of the Quaker School in Contemporary Education.

1934 The first “peer network" meets – for Upper School religion teachers.


1939 The Council speaks out against the national Teacher’s Loyalty Oath.

1940s In response to World War II, Friends Council helps schools take children from overseas, later in cooperation with the American Friends Service Committee.

1941 Friends Council assembles “Statistics and Attitudes on Enrollment of Negroes" after surveying all U.S. Friends and independent schools.

Photo: 1950 The first edition of the Courier, the Council’s newsletter, is sent to member schools.

1962 After consulting with Friends schools, Friends Council takes a position against the installation of fall-out shelters in schools.


1949 Teachers gather at Pendle Hill for the first residential conference on Friends Education for teachers new to Friends schools.

1958 The Friends Council launches a Teacher Training Program through monthly seminars and school visitations.

1963 David Mallery joins the Council staff, offering enrichment programs for teachers and providing inspiration, renewal, and "inordinate doses of encouragement."

David Mallery & Paul Lacey​​​​​


1967 Support from Susannah Vanderpoel Clark’s will provides resources for the Council’s Board to hire its first executive director, Thomas S. Brown (1967-1977).

1968 The Council offers an annual Grants Program for school projects that promote Quaker testimonies.

1970s Friends Council supports the Carolina Friends School in its struggle to prevent the state of North Carolina from taking control of non-public education.1978 Holly Locke begins providing programs and consultations for Friends schools on curriculum and learning.

Holly Locke with educators, 1980

1980 At a meeting at Wilmington College in Ohio, educators representing 16 Quaker colleges and universities form the Friends Association of Higher Education.

1981 Executive Director Adelbert Mason (1977-1988) leads the Council's first fundraising campaign for the Council's 50th anniversary.

1988 The Moral Growth Study Team, led by Irene McHenry, completes a study of moral growth in Quaker secondary schools, published as Embracing the Tension.

1988 Under executive director Kay Edstene's leadership (1988-2000), Chronicles of Quaker Education, a newsletter to promote the Quaker philosophy of education in schools practice, is created.

1996 The Council’s Technology Committee initiates the E-Quakes Listserv to facilitate electronic dialogue among Quaker school educators.

Irene McHenry at NAIS, Philly


2000-2001 Earl Harrison serves as executive director.

2000-2014 Irene McHenry serves as executive director for fourteen years.

2001 The Council’s Membership Committee develops a New Schools Kit in response for developing new Quaker schools. 

Responding to the crisis of September 11, 2001, the Friends Council compiles and publishes Coping Strategies and Positive Actions, a sharing of Friends’ initial reactions to the tragedy. 

First annual workshop for heads new to Friends school is introduced.

2002 Friends Council and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting co-publish the Governance Handbook for Friends Schools. A financial aid fund is established to support schools in need and educators of color in Friends schools with fees for Council workshops.

SPARC retreat, 2004

2003 SPARC begins (Spirited Practice and Renewed Courage) for teachers in Friends schools employing contemplative practices and Quaker-based pedagogical resources.

The Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends Schools offers a leadership development program including action research, leadership partners, and contemplative retreats.

The Council’s five-year Strategic Plan includes initiatives for Leadership, Governance, School-Meeting Relationships, Renewal for Teachers, National Voice, and Financial Stability. Thanks to 356 individuals and 186 new supporters, the Council matches the Clark Foundation’s challenge to raise $100,000 for the Friends Council’s strategic initiatives.

2004 Readings on Quaker Pedagogy is published, reflecting back to schools what makes a Friends education distinctive – our philosophy and practice.

Leadership Institute, 2004

The Friends Council Board approves a new membership category, Affiliate Educational Organizations, including Vihiga Friends Council on Education, Kenya; Bolivian Quaker Education Fund; Farm & Wilderness Camp; Pendle Hill; and William Penn House.

2005 The Board works with Arthur Larrabee to prepare and publish Principles of Good Practice for Friends School Boards and for Every Trustee.

The Council publishes Schooled in Diversity Action Research: Student and African-American Alumni Collaboration for School Change, through research coordinated by Pat Macpherson.

Bill Ravdin

The William and Mary Ravdin Fund is established to honor Bill’s dedicated service to small Friends schools and to support consulting for financial sustainability. 


2006 Friends Council assures financial stability through the Evergreen Circle of Friends, and publishes The Care Relationship: Friends Schools and the Religious Society of Friends, which presents best practices for school/meeting relationships. The Council welcomes its newest member school, San Francisco Friends School, and consults in the founding of two new schools in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Portland, Maine.

Ginny Christensen

2007 Foundation support launches Governance Matters!, providing trustee training through regional workshops, web-based tools and resources. The program evolves into Trustee U in 2012, a complete online training for governance, implemented by Ginny Christensen, in collaboration with ADVIS and with support from the Edward E. Ford Foundation.

2009 Executive director Irene McHenry is named Board President for the Council for American Private Education, following in the footsteps of her predecessors, Tom Brown and Kay Edstene. Friends Council was a founding member of CAPE in 1981.

2011 Friends Council takes responsibility for Friends Education Fund, which provides annually tuition aid support to Friends children attending Friends schools in the Philadelphia Yearly meeting geographical area.

2012 Friends Council joins with ADVIS and PAIS to offer the official welcome for the opening of the NAIS annual conference in Philadelphia.

With support from the Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation and the Tyson Fund, Friends Council launches a 3-year mindfulness program for teachers and students in Friends schools.

2013 The Membership Renewal Process for member schools is officially begun after a pilot year. The MRP is based on Principles of Good Practice: Affirming the Quaker Identity.

Kwesi and Melissa Koomson & Dr. Jill Biden​​​​

2014 Friends Council commemorates 325 years of Quaker education in the United States with a celebration including a Mayoral Proclamation declaring April 24, 2014 as Quaker Education Day. Dr. Jill Biden awards the FCE Leadership Award for Service to Society to Kwesi and Melissa Koomson.



 2014 - Friends Council offers a new commemorative  publication,  Leading in the Light. This foundational and inspiring collection of writings (essays, poetry, stories) from leaders in Friends education reflects on the history and principles of Quaker education and the defining features of Quaker education in practice.


2014 With support from the Tyson Memorial Fund,
SNAVE Foundation, and individual donors, Friends Council board launches a new initiative, the National Endowment for Quaker Children (NEQC), to support Friends children in Friends schools across the country.   



Irene McHenry and Drew Smith

2014 Friends Council celebrates the leadership legacy of Irene McHenry, outgoing executive director, and welcomes Drew Smith, incoming executive director. In his first year as executive director, Drew Smith visits over 30 Friends schools around the country to learn more about FCE's network of schools and their needs in the future.

2015 The Council graduates the 6th Leadership Institute and SPARC Cohorts with record number of applicants for future enrollment in the programs. 

Paying close attention to technology and web-based platforms, the Council explores new ways to connect Friends schools and amply its national voice.

2016 Friends Council on Education celebrates its 85th Anniversary and elevates the national voice of Quaker education by sending a copy of Leading in the Light and two #QuakerEducation magnets to newly-elected President Barack Obama.

A group of individuals passionate about increasing access to Friends education for families of all backgrounds found the Friends Education Equity Collaborative for the purpose of raising and distributing scholarship funds to Friends Council member schools. 

2017 As part of the strategic initiative to elevate the national voice of Friends Education, Friends Council debuts its first e-newsletter, QuakerEd News. With this new monthly e-newsletter, Friends Council on Education seeks to provide a wide variety of news and information about what's happening in the world of Friends education.

2017 Friends Council engages over 80 creative and talented educators and friends for strategic planning at Westtown School. Several strategic initiatives are identified, including 1) Boldly raise the visibility and brand of Quaker education; 2) Broaden the scope and impact of Quaker education; 3) Incubate, as catalyst or participant, high impact or collaborative programs to help member schools build the programmatic and enterprise capacity of member schools. 

Friends Council holds the first Community Conversation on Race at the HiWay Theater in Jenkintown, PA. Lifting up diversity, equity and inclusion issues in Friends schools becomes an important focus and outreach. 

The Council releases an updated digital version of Leonard Kenworthy’s Quaker Education: A Sourcebook, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the original print publication.

Friends Council introduces a new programmatic offering, Leading in the Manner of Friends, for Division Directors and Associate Heads. With inspiration from retired George School Head Nancy Starmer, the workshop covers Quaker values, practices, processes and the impact on leadership and decision-making.

A newly revised Friends Council website is launched.

Educators New to Quakerism (ENTQ) is now offered up and down the east coast! This flagship program, which for years was held only in Pennsylvania, is now held in New York, Pennsylvania, the Mid Atlantic Region (Maryland/DC) and the southern region.

The Teaching Black Boys workshop held at Friends Center attracted over 175 educators from over 50 public and independent schools from Philadelphia and beyond. The workshop was organized and sponsored by Friends Council on Education, Friends Select School, The Philadelphia School and the Race Institute K-12 Educators.

Legacy & Future Symposium, 2020

2019 Executive Director Drew Smith visits the newest Quaker school in February, International Friends School in Bellevue, WA. The school opened in 2018 and is a dual-language immersion school, a first in 330 years of Quaker education in the United States.  

Friends Council begins providing a new offering to member schools - Quakerism 101 for Parents.

2020 Friends Council hosts “Legacy and Future: Quaker Education Preparing Students to Transform the World,” a panel of Friends School alumni, at Friends Center in Philadelphia. The Symposium takes place several weeks before schools shut down due to the worldwide pandemic.



2020-2021 A worldwide pandemic shifts the nature and focus of Friends Council's outreach and annual programs, allowing these formerly in-person gatherings to grow and thrive virtually during unusual times. Increased calls for racial and social justice nationally underscore the importance of anti-racism work already underway at Friends Council. 

The Council launches QuakerEd Reads, a resource to support Friends School educators during the pandemic. The e-newsletter is a compilation of timely articles on a variety of topics including COVID/Virtual Learning,Racial Justice, Food for Thought, Climate Justice, LGBTQIA+, Mindfulness, Inspirational and Just for Fun.

Weekly scheduled on-line Meetings for Worship bring together educators, both former and present, and friends of the Council. Geographical limitation no longer matters.  

Friends Council forms a research partnership with Rational Partners to investigate the financial implications and performance of Multi-Campus Schools and to provide school leaders with a comprehensive resource for use in decision making in this area. The project is funded by E.E. Ford and BBLB Foundations. 

Today Friends Council on Education continues to provide leadership in drawing Friends schools together in unity of spirit and cooperative endeavors and promotes professional growth for trustees, heads, administrators, and teachers to further the goals of Quaker education, and serves as a voice for Friends schools in the national dialogue on education.