Megan Vance - Site Manager
Megan Vance has been a lifelong advocate for the Down syndrome community from the time her brother was born with Down syndrome in 2001. "He has been my biggest influence and best friend in life, and I have strived to make the world a better place for him and so many others."
Megan's commitment to this advocacy followed her through her college career as a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University. During her undergraduate experience, she was president of a student organization that strived to promote inclusion and acceptance of the Down syndrome community and graduated with her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2018, then went on to pursue her master’s in social work and graduated in 2020. During graduate school, Megan continued to make connections when she received a scholarship from a family who has a daughter with Down syndrome, who she is proud to now call her friend, and later learned she is involved with GiGi’s Playhouse Canton!
Megan is a licensed social worker with experience in the mental health field, non-profit mentoring, and program development. She also shares that she has four pets and counting, enjoys painting, cooking, baking, and spending time with friends and family, and has a knack for finding 4-leaf clovers!
Stacy Jackson, Board President
Stacy Jackson and her husband, Rick, were married in 2005 and have seven children, 6 boys and their youngest, a girl, who was born in July 2016 with Down syndrome. Their daughter, Maleah, has already changed their perspective on life in so many ways that they are 100% on board with the concept of celebrating that extra chromosome.
Stacy graduated from Kent State University with her bachelor’s degree in sign language interpreting and later from the University of Akron with her master’s in special education. She currently teaches American Sign Language at GlenOak High School and Stark State College. Stacy also works as a video relay interpreter for Purple Communications.
Stacy has been part of the Launch Team from the very first meeting in March of 2017.
“Being a part of bringing GiGi’s Playhouse to Canton is truly one of the most exciting things I have ever been involved in! The relationships that have already been established has been life changing for our family. I know, without a doubt, that the impact GiGi’s Playhouse will have in the Stark County area will be nothing short of incredible!”
Samantha Taylor, Board Vice President
Samantha (Sam) Taylor currently resides in North Canton Ohio with her 6-year-old daughter. On a continual mission of promoting inclusion for all, Sam was fortunate to learn about GiGi's Playhouse in Canton shortly following its opening. While volunteering with the Teen-Tastic program, Sam sought to further her commitment and the continual advance of GiGi's Playhouse Canton by joining the board of managers in November 2019.
Sam completed her bachelor’s degree at Ohio University in Hearing, Speech, and Language Science, and her master’s degree from Malone University in Organizational Leadership. She currently works at Greenleaf Family Center as the Director of Community Services of and for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CSD). Sam comes to GiGi's Playhouse with a wealth of knowledge in program expansion, sustainability planning, and grant writing.
Lisa Eliopoulos, Board Treasurer
Lisa Eliopoulos and her husband, Chris, are the proud parents of their children Isabelle and Branson. High School sweethearts, Chris and Lisa were married in 2007 and welcomed their daughter, Isabelle in 2008 and their son, Branson, in 2016. Branson was given a Down syndrome diagnosis at birth and has been a blessing to so many ever since.
Lisa graduated from Kent State University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Lisa worked at Aultman Hospital for 10 years before deciding to focus more on her family and shift career paths. Lisa currently works for Cleveland Clinic on an as needed basis.
Lisa learned about Gigi's playhouse at a playgroup a couple of moms with children with Down syndrome were having. "At the time, the special needs community was very foreign to me I really didn't know what existed and what didn't. The more I became involved with Gigi's, the more I was hooked! My family and I are so grateful to this organization for providing the purposeful, therapeutic and educational programming that it does for Branson. My main goal is to educate and break down the barriers to provide a more inclusive and welcoming world for all of our loved ones!"
Christina Ziga-Budd, Past President
Christina Ziga-Budd and her husband, Tim, reside in Green with their three daughters McKinley, Reagan and Monroe. “Our youngest daughter Monroe was born in August 2015. She surprised us when she was born with a full head of dark hair and Down syndrome. We always say Monroe was not only a gift to us as parents, but she was meant to follow behind her awesome big sisters. They are her best teachers and advocates.”
Christina is a graduate of Kent State University where she graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and later got her master's in Educational Leadership with a Principal’s License and Superintendent’s License. Christina currently is the Special Education Director in the New Philadelphia City School district. “If I am not at GiGi’s or at school you will likely find me following high school football in Stark County as Tim is the Head coach of the Jackson Polar Bears.”
Christina posted on Facebook about Gigi’s Playhouse in February of 2017. In March 2017, a group of passionate strangers brainstormed if this was needed in our community. It is amazing that it all began in the corner of a Panera! “We obviously decided that this was the way to go and was a needed icon in our community! Come visit us we cannot wait to meet you!”
Genevieve Boja, Secretary
Genevieve (Genny) became involved in the Down syndrome community when the family she babysits for had a beautiful daughter with Down syndrome named Monroe to round out their wonderful family. While not actually a part of the family, Genny “adopted their three girls as pseudo nieces to love and spoil them.”
Genny graduated from the University of Akron with her Bachelor's in Child Development and is working on her Masters in Early Elementary Education. She currently works at the Goddard School as an infant teacher.
Genny has been a part of the Start-up Committee since March of 2017. She has taken on the role of Math and Literacy Coordinator to help with all tutoring.
"This whole journey has been so wonderful and I've learned so much. Finally having this dream come true for so many people is one of the most spectacular things I will ever be a part of."
Sierra Coon, Board Member
Sierra grew up in the Cleveland area and now resides in Jackson Township in Canton, Ohio. She graduated from Kent State University with her bachelor’s degree in 2018 and a Master’s in Accounting in 2019. She then passed all the exams to become a certified public accountant as she obtained experience doing tax work at a public accounting firm. She now looks forward to learning new aspects of accounting as she starts a new position with a local oil and gas company and becomes more involved with Board roles here at GiGi’s Playhouse. Sierra was drawn to GiGi’s because she believes in spreading kindness and making sure people of abilities feel welcomed and accepted.
Charlie Dear, Board Member
At Equitable Advisors, I help individuals through an all-inclusive planning approach as a financial professional. Equitable’s services allows me to serve all of my client’s needs ranging from life insurance, retirement & estate planning strategies, asset management, long term care as well as strategies for employers and business owners. I create customized strategies and offer products from hundreds of leading investment and insurance companies.
As a Financial Professional with Equitable Advisors, LLC, and an agent of Equitable Network, LLC and its subsidiaries, I work with dozens of providers to offer a variety of financial products and services; including, Retirement Planning, Education Planning, Business Planning, Mutual Funds, Brokerage Accounts, Life Insurance, Disability Income Insurance, Annuities, and Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans such as 401(k), 403(b)/TSA and 457(b)/EDC. As a financial professional, my mission is to provide the highest level of service available through helping clients identify and prioritize their financial objectives. I currently hold the FINRA Series 7 and Ohio Life and health licenses.
Along with my role at Equitable, I am also a contracted Medicare agent with TLC Insurance.
I attended Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio and earned my Finance and Business Management Degrees from The University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. While attending college I was a four-year letterman, two time National Champion, two time Team Captain (’16, ’17), two time 1st team all-conference selection, two time All-North Region selection, and 2017 AP All-American.
In my free time, I enjoy traveling, visiting family, fishing, frisbee and spending time with my puppy Bear.
Lisa Doyle, Board Member
Lisa and her husband, Tim, are both lifelong residents of Northeast Ohio and together they have 5 children. Their youngest son, Nicholas, was born with Down syndrome in 1988 and since that time Lisa has been heavily involved in the DS community. She has longed for a place for Nicholas to hang out and grow with his friends in Stark County.
Lisa has been part of the Launch Team since the beginning and is proud to serve on the Board of Directors. She is excited to watch families and individuals with DS realize their highest potential utilizing the platform and programs available to them through GiGi's Playhouse. Professionally, Lisa has spent the majority of her career in workforce consulting and talent management at ManpowerGroup and is currently Vice President Client Solutions, N.A.
Nicholas Doyle, Board Member
Nicholas "Nick" is a 2007 graduate of GlenOak High School in Canton, OH. Born with Down syndrome in 1988, Nick has been an overachiever since the day he was born. Nick has been employed by Giant Eagle for over 11 years and has held numerous positions. Currently, Nick leads the Ambassador Committee for Stark Public Special Olympics, sits on the Board of Directors for Stand Up for Downs, is a member of the first all DS improvisation troupe, The Improvaneers, and is a member of the GiGi's Playhouse, Canton Board of Directors as a self-advocate. Nick is most excited to have a GiGi's in Canton to have a place for the whole community to come and build closer relationships with people with DS.
Jessi Korpi, Board Member
Jessica (Jessi) and her husband Fred were born in Colorado and met in college. They married in 2009 and made their way to Missouri in 2011. Jessi is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. They are proud parents of 3 OHIO children, Blaiden, Adilene, & Kallie. During their second pregnancy they learned that they had a beautiful girl with Down syndrome. Jessi looked for resources and support and found comfort in the love of GiGi’s Playhouse. When she learned Canton was opening a GiGi’s Playhouse, she was immediately enthused and has been involved since it opened!
Adilene was diagnosed with cancer just before her 2nd birthday. “Without the love, support, and the absolute unrelenting strength our family would not have survived.” – Fred. Adilene is not only cancer free but has prospered! Jessi is a rock and anchor for the entire family. Since that day she has been raising a beautiful family and devoting her life to improving Adilene’s life and the lives of every parent and child with Down syndrome.
Ben Morrett, Board Member
Ben Morrett and his wife, Nicole, were married in 2013 and they currently live in the Jackson area. They are actively pursuing the adoption of their first child, a little girl in China (who happens to have Down syndrome). They can’t wait to travel and be able to bring her home to be a part of their family and the GiGi’s family, as well!
Ben graduated from the University of Dayton with his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering Technology. He currently works at The Timken Company as a Product Manager. Ben joined the Canton board to be a part of creating a more inclusive and accepting community for his future daughter to grow up in.