Stephanie Haynes steps away from Philadelphia Family Pride after 15 years of service

From left: Jadzia Axelrod in a red coat with black top and white button-up underneath. Stephanie Haynes in a blue zip-up hoodie and a red Phillies baseball cap. Sandra Telep in a black lightweight puffer coat.
From left, Jadzia Axelrod, Stephanie Haynes and Sandra Telep.

Stephanie Haynes, executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride (PFP), joined the organization 15 years ago when her twins were toddlers. She’d left her previous job to care for them at home — but as they got older, she started to feel a little restless. And she felt alone.

“It can be very isolating,” she said about parenting young children.

She came on to PFP as community coordinator. Her first task was to sit at a table during an event at the zoo to tell people about the organization. In 2010, she helped organize PFP’s first Family Matters Conference — which is now an annual gathering and the group’s largest educational event.

“It really meshed exceedingly well with our lives and my life as a parent,” said Haynes, who often worked while her children napped or during nights and weekends when her wife was home. “I can’t imagine a better job and while raising my kids honestly.”

Lately, her life looks a lot different. She’s been teaching those kids to drive.

“They need to build their confidence to be good drivers, so they need you to be calm. You need to be confident in them and relaxed as a passenger,” she said, illustrating an aspect of parenting that follows people across each developmental stage — starting with a child’s earliest discoveries and extending well beyond moments of anxiety on the highway.

On May 1, Haynes will move on from PFP and hand the reins to Sandra Telep, who is currently PFP’s assistant director. Taking Telep’s job will be Jadzia Axelrod, who is currently a community organizer for the organization. Both emerging leaders previously served on the PFP board.

“It feels like it’s time for me to move on,” Haynes said, noting that those twin teenagers have just one year left in high school. “Part of this is for me to be a little more available to them during this big transition year.”

“It feels like the timing is right for the organization too. We have these two great people for me to hand the group off to,” she added. “I have confidence they’re going to improve it and expand it and do things differently, and I think all of those things will be great for the organization.”

“I thought I knew Stephanie’s role before I ever thought about stepping into it. But I am absolutely blown away by all the things that she does,” said Telep, who is thankful for the mentorship and guidance Haynes has offered. She also appreciates collaborating with Axelrod and the board.

“My focus is really maintaining what Stephanie has built — but at the same time, I absolutely have hopes and dreams for the future of PFP,” Telep said, noting that she hopes to grow the reach of the conference, deepen the partnerships PFP has developed with adjacent organizations, and apply for grants to increase the budget.

Haynes supported efforts to expand the organization’s reach as an educational resource. The group now hosts informational sessions and classes for prospective parents — including those interested in fostering and adoption as well as those who will pursue reproductive support or surrogacy. Workshops also tackle legal topics, other aspects of family planning, support for new parents, and how to navigate tough topics — such as talking to kids about justice issues.

Opportunities extend beyond family planning and early childhood. Kids can connect with one another through programming designed specifically for queerspawn who don’t necessarily identify as LGBTQ+ themselves. Telep — who has two kids, ages 11 and 13 — hopes to help PFP launch a youth advisory council to help young people plan education and social events that appeal more to tweens and teens.

“I think it’s a misconception that we’re just a playdate organization,” she said. “I love the community we build and the social events we create, but that’s not the only thing we do. I’m really proud of our education work and our advocacy work.”

“My history is in social justice work,” said Telep, who previously worked for the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU and the ALF-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States.

Haynes oversaw PFP’s role as an intervenor in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia — a lawsuit that ended in a unanimous Supreme Court decision that sided with Catholic Social Services, an agency that does not allow same-sex couples to become foster parents.

“It was nuts — kind of sitting on the sidelines when there were places where we could step in to represent LGBT parents as a whole,” said Haynes about this and other cases PFP has worked to support. PFP is now involved in Glover v. Junior, a lawsuit that has become a test case for establishing rights to parentage.

Telep hopes to continue this kind of advocacy work and expand opportunities to be a resource to LGBTQ+ parents in the future. She’s excited about the work the organization has done to increase visibility and community for BIPOC families — including the more recent addition of a Juneteenth picnic.

“When I moved to Philadelphia, I moved here not really knowing anyone and with a newborn. I was really in search of community, and I wanted to meet other queer families too,” said Telep, who has been involved in the organization for 14 years now.

“It’s hard to keep your identity when you’re a parent of a young kid. That kind of swallows up everything,” she said. “So being involved in a family-focused organization was really great because I could bring the baby to meetings and all of the events were kid friendly. It’s really a very easy way to do something that’s good for my family and myself and my community all in one.”

Philadelphia Family Pride will host a pay-what-you-can farewell party to honor Stephanie Haynes on April 27 from 4-6 p.m. at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. To get tickets, visit

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