Meet the amazing staff at Camp Free2Be! Our team’s years of experience working with LGBTQ+ youth help create a camp that’s welcoming, creative, and FUN!
Liz Matthews, Camp Director
Liz (she/her/hers) is the founder and director of Camp Free2Be. She is a parent of four amazing kids ages 12, 17, 21, and 32, one of whom is transgender and one of whom is nonbinary; the proud grandparent of a beautiful grandchild; a preschool music teacher; facilitator of the Northern Virginia chapter of He She Ze and We, a support group for parents and caregivers of trans and gender expansive children; and an advocate for transgender youth as an active member of Arlington Gender Identity Allies. She enjoys singing, playing ukulele and recorder, crafting, and cuddling with her Yorkie.
Lee Matthews, Co-Director
Lee (they/them/theirs) is the co-director and a senior counselor at camp. They are a graduate of Wakefield High School, and are finishing their degree as an ASL interpreter at Northern Virginia Community College. They enjoy crocheting, gaming, singing (2+ years with the GenOUT Chorus as a member, and 2 years as a junior helper/leader), and creating digital art.
Brian Smith, Financial Director
Brian Smith (he/him/his) is our financial director, and was instrumental in taking Camp Free2Be through the process of becoming a non-profit. He is a longtime Arlington resident and is currently chairing the Board of Directors of Educational Theatre Company (ETC). During the day, you can find him at work as Vice President of Finance and Operations at Promundo-US. He previously worked as the Vice President of Operations at CHANGE (Center for Health and Gender Equity) and in various leadership roles at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. Brian holds a B.A. in Theater Arts from George Mason University and is pursuing his MBA at the University of Maryland Global Campus.
Camp Free2Be is excited to partner with Little SMYALs for our 2023 camp session. Little SMYALs is a year-round social support program for LGBTQ+ youth ages 6-13. Working together, we will be able to offer so much more fun, support, and resources to our campers and teen volunteers than ever before. For more information about Little SMYALs, click here.
Ty Kitchen, Little SMYALs Program Manager
Ty Kitchen (they/them/theirs) is the Little SMYALs Programs Manager and has been at SMYAL since January 2021. Ty is a nonbinary educator, youth worker, camp counselor, and queer advocate. Ty has a degree in elementary education from Connecticut College and has been working with kids and teens in educational settings since they were a teen themself! Some of their favorite things include their dog (a little chihuahua named Turnip!), the show Steven Universe, watching plants grow, singing and dancing, and finding little bits of queer magic and joy in everyday life. Ty strives to create spaces where youth can be seen and empowered as their whole authentic selves, and can’t wait to meet you!
Ayanna Alexandre, Little SMYALs Youth Fellow
Ayanna (she/her/hers) joined the team in November 2022 as a Youth Fellow with Little SMYALs. In Little SMYALs she works to co-facilitate Little SMYALs programs and support our 6–13-year old’s. Originally from West Palm Beach, FL, Ayanna graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Family and Child Sciences and is now attending Howard University to obtain her master’s degree in School Psychology. Throughout her time at Florida State, Ayanna worked alongside youth within guidance counselor offices and through tutoring programs. She is passionate about being a place of support for underserved youth and plans to be a School Psychologist within public schools in the near future. When not at SMYAL or on campus, you can find Ayanna reading a new book in a nearby café, eating new foods at restaurants around the city or doing any and all things creative.
Leisure, Licensed Mental Health Support
Leisure (they/them) is very excited to be joining the Free2Be team this Summer 2023! Leisure has had a range of odd jobs in their life so far but one category that remains consistent is their love of queer and nonbinary representation in public education. For the last 15 or so years, Leisure has been in public education settings that range from substitute teacher, coach, teacher, and now school counselor. With their License (Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor/LGPC) Leisure continues to be a mental health professional and support for LGBTQIA+ youth and their families!
When they are not totally immersed in the mental health world, you can find them playing roller derby, vibing out with music, being outside with their camera taking photographs, hiking/walking, or spending time with their Peloton bike! Leisure is looking forward to working with LGBTQIA+ youth and their supports to empower our young people to build their confidence and skills to accomplish what they put their minds to!
Camp Free2Be would not be possible without our amazing Junior and Senior Counselors! Do you know a great teen role model, ages 15-18, or maybe you yourself, who would like to join our team?? Learn more and register to be a junior counselor today!