Pauline K. Markward, Executive Director
Pauline K. Markward has a diverse range of experience in the for-profit, nonprofit, and educational sectors. Possessing over 20 years of experience, she has developed strong foundations in education, programming, and event management.
Her proven track record of success in education awarded her Educator of the Month (six times), and Regional Educator of the Month. In addition to her successes in education, Pauline is also known for her strong work ethic and ability to collaborate effectively with diverse teams.
Pauline is currently serving as Executive Director for GiGi’s Playhouse, where she promotes their mission statement, “To change the way the world views Down syndrome and to send a global message of acceptance for all.”
Sarah Brown, President
Sarah is an attorney in Annapolis and ardent supporter of GiGi’s Playhouse. Sarah’s cousin, who is also her best friend, was born with Down syndrome and has motivated Sarah to find additional resources and programs so all individuals like her cousin receive the best education and support.
Ray Pinkham, Board Member
Ray and his wife Katie are the proud parents of three boys: Thomas, Henry and Samuel. His youngest son, Samuel, has Down syndrome and has benefited from many programs at GiGi's Playhouse since it opened. Originally from Oregon, Ray now lives in the Annapolis area and is an attorney in Washington, DC. In his spare time, Ray enjoys watching and attending Washington Nationals and Capitals games with his sons and family day trips around the DC area.
Lynne Markowitz, Outreach Committee Chair
Lynne was born and raised in New York and moved to Maryland when she accepted her first Special Education Teaching position. She has worked in the Special Education field for 40 years with her last and most rewarding position being the Program Manager for the Infants and Toddlers Program. Her passion has always been advocating for and working with children with varying special needs and their families. As a recent retiree from Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Lynne is looking forward to using her professional background to support the mission of the Playhouse and to continue to provide awareness and outreach to new families and community partners.
Marissa Kleiman, Speech Language Pathologist
Marissa earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development, with honors, from Binghamton University, a Master’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, and an Advanced Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Brooklyn College. She is a licensed speech language pathologist in New York and Maryland and certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). She previously worked at Loyola University as a clinical supervisor, mentoring graduate students pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. Prior to working at the university level, Marissa was employed in both elementary and middle schools in New York, Florida, and Maryland. Marissa has extensive experience working with students who present with a wide range of communication disorders, including language-based learning disabilities, receptive/expressive language disorders, autism spectrum disorders, speech sound disorders, pragmatic deficits, and Down syndrome. Additionally, Marissa has worked with students who struggle in the areas of reading and writing. Marissa is certified in the Orton-Gillingham Reading Program and the Compton PESL Accent Modification Program, with additional trainings in Story Grammar Marker, Lively Letters, and Social Thinking. Marissa believes in collaborating with the family and educators in the therapy process and treating the whole individual.
Marissa lives in Howard County with her husband, two children, and two pups! She enjoys spending time with family, traveling, yoga, and hiking. Marissa had the opportunity to work with GiGi’s Playhouse families last year during the launch of the Amina Grace Speech and Language Program. She is thrilled to be part of the GiGi’s Annapolis team and to work with the wonderful families!
Jennifer Craig, Fundraising Committee Chair
Jennifer resides in Pasadena with her husband Martin and four children Caitlin, Mikey, Allison, and Henry. Jennifer became involved with GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis after receiving a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome for her youngest son Henry. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science in Business Communications and currently works as the Marketing Operations Manager at The Mom Project. Jennifer’s son Henry has benefited from the LMNOP program as well as the Amina Grace Speech and Language Program. Jennifer is very excited to join the board and use her background in marketing and event planning to help raise funds and awareness for GiGi’s Playhouse and Down syndrome.
Robert P. Taishoff, Board Member
Captian Robert P. Taishoff, JAGC, USN (ret) is the CEO of Annapolis Yacht Sales and Service. Before this he served on active duty as the Director of the Appellate Defense Division for Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Review Activity, managing Navy and Marine Corps attorneys and civilians who represent service members with cases on appeal at the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the United States Supreme Court. Among his assignments during a career spanning 22 years, he has served in The Office of the Special Assistant for Transformation; as Executive Officer Trial Service Office NE; as Deputy Director and Director of the Office of the JAG Appellate Government Division; and as Navy Counsel for the State Department representing the United States on Iranian Claims Litigation. Following his deployment in the Arabian Gulf during Operation Enduring Freedom Captain Taishoff was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency Office of General Counsel. His military awards include The Legion of Merit, five Meritorious Service Medals, a Joint Commendation Medal, three Navy Commendation Medals, a Navy Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Captain Taishoff graduated from Syracuse University in 1986 and received a law degree from Widener Law School in May 1989. He completed an LL.M with highest honors at George Washington University School of Law in 2002. He has established a number of philanthropic programs through his family foundation, for which he is President and Trustee. Captain Taishoff established the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education at the Syracuse University School of Education. He serves as the Chairman of the Taishoff Family Foundation, is a member of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors for the National Down Syndrome Society. Captain Taishoff lives in Annapolis with his wife Kathy Taishoff and their 5 children.
Pauline K. Markward, Executive Director
David Thompson, Treasurer
David and his wife attended the GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis 2022 Gala and were inspired by the mission. After the Gala, he participated in a career prep program and shortly after joined the Board of Directors as Treasurer and has been a tremendous asset to the organization.
In the Treasurer role David draws on nearly two decades experience working as a Private Banker at J. P. Morgan and Citi and as a Strategy Consultant at Accenture. In his role as a Private Banker David provides holistic advice across a range of strategies, including: investments, credit, banking, pre-transaction planning, estate planning, and charitable giving.
A native of the British Isles, David graduated from the University of East Anglia with a BA (Hons) in Business Economics and earned an MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University.
Jennifer Winslow, Secretary and Youth Board Mentor
A transplant from Harford County, Maryland, Jenn moved to the Annapolis area in 2002. She has worked in Special Education at several AACPS schools and Central Office since 2011 after previous careers in Human Resources at Legg Mason, Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay and then full-time mother to her children Hannah and Mark.
In early 2019 Jenn began seeking activities and experiences that would bring her joy. She first learned of GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis through former students and friends via social media. What began as one hour a week working with participant interns in the office, quickly became volunteering at Fantastic Friends, then leading that Program, to providing general Programming input to the board, to now her current role as Secretary. Jenn also mentors the GPA Generation G Youth Board and loves meeting and working alongside area teens who are passionate about spreading the message of Acceptance for All. Her friendships and relationships with GiGi’s participants and families are the driving force behind Jenn’s dedication to forwarding the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis.
Jenn lives on the Broadneck Peninsula with Mark and their rescued pitbull, Lola. Hannah has recently returned to the area as an RN on the Mother Baby Unit at AAMC and Jenn looks forward to continuing support of GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis as a family.
Mary Lee Walls, Speech-Language Pathologist and Adult Career Development Program Coordinator
Mary Lee Walls earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Towson State University and a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola College. She is a licensed speech language pathologist in Maryland and certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).
Over the course of thirty years, she has worked in public, private, and Catholic Schools, and at the university level. For the past 13 years, she worked at Loyola University Maryland as a full-time pediatric clinical supervisor mentoring graduate student clinicians pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at the University Clinic, partnering schools, and one day a week at the Annapolis GiGi’s Playhouse. She specializes in the treatment of early intervention and school-aged clients with articulation/phonological disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, expressive & receptive language disorders, social skills/pragmatic language skills, and language-based reading disorders yet her experiences span the age continuum to include extensive work with persons with Down syndrome. She is a certified Phono-Graphix® Therapist, completed level 1 PROMPT training, and has completed training in the LiPs (Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing Program), Visualizing and Verbalizing Program, and Story Grammar Marker. Additionally, she is Hanen Certified – It Takes Two Parent Training. Mary Lee established a summer early literacy and articulation program in 2013 at St. Mark School in Catonsville, Md serving rising Kindergarten – 3rd graders attending St. Mark School and area private and public schools. Collaboration with a colleague enabled the program to expand to include reading comprehension and writing skills summer of 2020 to serve rising 4th through 6th graders.
Mary Lee is not new to Gigi’s Playhouse Annapolis. She was instrumental in establishing a partnership with GiGi’s and the Loyola Clinical Centers in 2020 to launch the Amina Grace Program, providing speech language therapy services and a rich clinical experience for graduate student clinicians. Mary Lee is excited to be a part of the GiGi’s Playhouse Annapolis Team and working with the amazing participants and their families! She is looking forward to continuing the Amina Grace Program and taking on the role as Program Coordinator of the Gigi Prep and Gigi U Programs.