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!”
Ben Morrett, Board Vice President
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.
Sierra Coon, Board Treasurer
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.
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 Springfield Local Schools.
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!”
Jessi Korpi, Secretary
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.
Genevieve Boja, Board Member
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 as an elementary teacher at The Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children.
Genny has been a part of the Start-up Committee since March of 2017 and currently sits on the marketing committee for GiGi’s Playhouse Canton.
"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."
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.
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.
Christine Gray - Board Member
Christine (Christy) Gray is currently living and working in the Firestone Park area of Akron, Ohio with her two large rescue dogs (Sampson and Titus). She has been a huge advocate for all individuals with special needs since she can remember. Christy graduated in 2015 from Mount Vernon Nazarene University with a degree in Elementary Education as well as a degree as an Intervention Specialist. When she is not volunteering at GiGi’s, she is an Intervention Specialist for middle and high school students at a severe special needs school. She has been volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse since the winter of 2019 and then decided to take her passion a step further by also joining the board.
In her free time, Christy enjoys traveling, hiking with her dogs, camping, volunteering at her church, good coffee, yoga, and spending time with those she loves. She is always looking for a new adventure or dog park to visit with her boys. Christy believes that by growing understanding and acceptance of individuals with special needs, we will be able to one day change the world!