Karen Connelly, Site Manager
Karen comes to us with over twenty years experience in child development and leadership. She is a former Developmental Therapist and is currently certified as a Child Life Specialist. Her various roles have allowed her to support children, families and professionals in community and home-based settings. Most recently, Karen managed volunteer and child life services in a children's hospital. She lives in Midlothian with her husband, teenage son and fur babies. "I am committed to supporting individuals and families on the south side and am excited to join the GiGi's family"!
Kathy Klyczek, Literacy Coordinator
Kathy has been a volunteer at GiGi’s Playhouse Tinley Park since 2017, and a Literacy Tutor since 2018. Kathy worked in elementary and special education for over 30 years before retiring in 2021. She holds a Masters's degree in both Special Education and Educational Administration from St. Xavier University. Kathy and her husband, Tony, live in Palos Heights and have adult twin daughters.
Kathy is looking forward to her new role as Literacy Tutoring Coordinator. She hopes to offer support to our current tutors and to expand the program to include more students and volunteer tutors.
Bianca Vande Werken, Operations & Outreach Coordinator
Bianca graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018 with a BA in Human Development and Learning and a minor in Disability Studies. She left Chicago and moved to Tinley Park with her husband in June 2023. She comes to GiGi’s Playhouse Tinley Park with a few years’ experience in the non-profit field, particularly with outreach and database management. She’s excited to join the team and make a difference in her new community! When she’s not at work, Bianca loves to plan the next travel adventure or night out with her husband and friends.
Diane Husar, Founder
After 13 years of teaching in the Chicago Public Schools, Diane left the classroom when her son Luke was born to bring a GiGi's Playhouse to the south suburbs of Chicago. With a team of incredibly committed volunteers, GiGi's opened their doors in Oak Forest in 2013 and moved to Tinley Park in 2015. Her mantra is, "It takes a village," and she has never-ending gratitude for the community of individuals, businesses and foundations that believe in the mission and vision of GiGi's Playhouse.
Molly Chesna, President
Molly Chesna has been a member of the Playhouse since her daughter, Mackenzie, was born in 2020. GiGi's has always been a place for her and her family to feel at home. Molly lives in Orland Park with her husband, Nick, and their daughters, Parker and Mack. She is a Small Business Portfolio Manager for Busey Bank. When she is not working, Molly enjoys listening to live music, traveling to beach towns, and planning activities for her family. Molly is thrilled to be a part of the GiGi's Board and hopes to spread the word about this wonderful place.
Bridget Davis, Vice President
Bridget Davis and her family started coming to GiGi's Playhouse shortly after her daughter, Hope, was born in 2022. Bridget became a board member of GiGi's Playhouse Tinley Park when Hope turned 1!
Bridget lives in Palos Heights with her husband, Dan, and their three children, Danny, Grace, and Hope. Bridget is a partner at the law firm Berger Schatz in Chicago, Illinois. Bridget likes to go on spontaneous trips with her family and spend as much time outside as possible. Hope has taught Bridget and her entire family, as well as her friends, so much about Down Syndrome. Bridget is excited and honored to be a board member of GiGi's Playhouse Tinley Park.
Bill Grady, Treasurer
Bill joined the Board in December 2020 shortly after being introduced to Gigi’s Playhouse Tinley Park. He grew up in Evergreen Park and has lived in Palos Heights for the last 16 years. He is married to Kim and they have two boys Liam and Ben. Bill is an Illinois State University grad. He is a Finance executive and CPA hoping to use those skills in the Treasurer role.
Tom Olofsson, Secretary
Tom Olofsson is an attorney based in Chicago. His practice is limited to Estate Planning including Wills, Trusts, Special Needs, and Medicaid Planning. Tom has been in practice for 26 years. He is married to Susan. They have three adult children and four grandchildren. He became involved with Special Needs planning after being invited to a parents day at a local non-profit in 1996. He became involved with GiGi’s after being invited to an open house in 2016.
Kelli Gilbertson, Special Events
Kelli grew up in Seneca, IL but has been a resident of Tinley Park since 2007. Kelli graduated from Trinity Christian College and is a registered nurse at Advocate Children’s Hospital. She started volunteering at GiGi’s in 2014, at the 2 and Under program. It didn’t take long for her to branch out to other programs after realizing how amazing GiGi’s is! She became a part of the Board in 2016 and took on the task of planning all of special events. When not spending time at GiGi’s, Kelli enjoys visiting her nieces in Alabama, going to concerts, spending time with friends and going to the gym. Kelli is honored to be a part of the Board and she is excited to see what the future has in store for GiGi’s Playhouse Tinley Park.
Nancy Mines, Fundraising
Nancy is a Senior Account Director for brand strategy & design firm ColorJar. Nancy has 15+ years leading design, brand strategy, and innovation initiatives for companies such as Ocean Spray, Nestlé, and Abbott Nutrition. She has deep expertise in Agile and Design Thinking processes, transforming brands and businesses in service of growth. Nancy attended Columbia College Chicago, where she earned her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree. She then earned her MBA from Roosevelt University. Nancy joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Tinley Park Board in December 2019. Nancy’s brother-in-law, Tommy Mines, has Down syndrome and has attended Park Lawn for 47 years.
Laura Savant, Board Member
Laura has been an integral part of the Playhouse since our doors opened in 2013. Her nephew “Mayor Matt” has been her driving force. In addition to being a Board Member, Laura is a volunteer leader of our Adult Cooking Club and she plans to be even more involved with adult programming in the future. She currently works in transfusion services at a local hospital.
John Haddad, Board Member
John has been a member of the GiGi’s Playhouse Tinley Park Family since his daughter, Alayna, turned 1 in 2017. You can always find him at one of our programs rooting her on. He is a partner in Reload Transportation Services, a logistics company and a Real Estate Agent with Better Homes and Gardens. In his spare time, John loves to spend his time with his daughters, Alayna and Abigail, watching Disney movies, doing projects, and having dance parties. They along with his wife, Liz, currently reside in Palos Heights.
Rich Facko, Board Member
Rich Facko has been involved with GiGi's Tinley Park since his youngest daughter Annie was born. His wife Cassie and older children Lexie, Rich, and Marie, also frequent the Playhouse. The relationships formed at GiGi's have been a very important part of each of their lives. Rich grew up in Palos Heights and is a pediatric dentist in Palos Heights, where he currently lives.