Executive Director of the Pony Barnes Foundation
Pronouns: Anything Respectful
Camp Name: Tal
"Queer people need and deserve safe spaces not just to be who we are, but to thrive in and celebrate who we are. The value of community, and more specifically the communities & connections formed at LGBTQ+ affirming camps, cannot be understated. When we get to step outside of the “real world” and into a supportive environment where we can take risks to explore our identities, meet others like us, feel safe in knowing that we “aren’t the only one,” and simply laugh, learn, sing, and be silly together, it is life changing. Those are experiences that live on within us long after summer comes to a close. Those are the experiences that create deep internal reserves of fortitude that we can pull strength from in our most difficult moments; experiences that remind us that who we are is held by a community somewhere, someplace beautiful and that we are wonderful, mighty, and so very deserving of love."
Madelyn Gelpi (All Pronouns), AKA Tal, joined the Pony Barnes Foundation as the organization’s very first Executive Director in January 2022. Madelyn is an accomplished leader in LGBTQ+ initiatives whose work has enabled organizations across the US to build equity, inclusion and greater awareness of the LGBTQ+ community. They bring PBF their wealth of experience in program development and management, diversity & inclusion, stakeholder engagement, learning & development, leadership, and knowing how to build a solid campfire complete with guitar tunes, s'mores, and kumbaya.
Prior to working at PBF, Madelyn served as the Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement at Out & Equal, the premiere organization working exclusively to achieve LGBTQ workplace equality worldwide. In this role, Madelyn led the development of The Global Hub, the organization’s first virtual educational platform and engagement center for executives, D&I and HR practitioners, and ERG leaders working for LGBTQ inclusion, as well as Out & Equal published resources, including What’s Your Pronoun: Strategies for Inclusion in the Workplace, Supporting Intersex Inclusion, and more. They also established the organization’s foundational strategy to increase engagement in the US South, launching Out & Equal’s very first Southern States Forum in July of 2019.
Madelyn also brings her background as a mental health counselor where she provided intensive stabilization services to youth and families with severe trauma and mental health issues in San Francisco. She has served as an instructor in unconscious bias, leadership & management, and LGBTQ inclusion for clients including the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office and UC Berkeley. They have also served on The Trevor Project’s national Youth Advisory Council, as well as the Board of Directors for the Forum For Equality, Louisiana’s largest LGBTQ human rights organization. Madelyn holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Loyola University New Orleans.
Madelyn has been a camp counselor for many years throughout her life, starting at Amplify Youth and Community Resources in Louisiana during high school and college. In fact, camp is what led her to move to California in 2012, where she found a home and community at Montecito Sequoia Family Camp as the camp’s guitar & songwriting instructor. Their experiences at Montecito and admiration of the beautiful environment Pony created is what led them to join the Pony Barnes Foundation team as Executive Director.
In their free time, they enjoy snuggling with their golden retriever, Ranger, backpacking in the Sierras, songwriting, spending time with family and friends, hiking around the American River, deepening their skills as a California naturalist, and eating as much pizza and lasagna as humanly possible.