Roy Courtney, Executive Director
Roy is passionate and enthusiastic about empowering others and has spent 8 years working in the non-profit sector, using his experience to provide services to the people in the community, fulfilling his passion to create social engagement for all. Roy has worked for Make-A-Wish, at summer camps for children with special needs and created sports programs for at-risk youth while working in Oxfordshire. He feels honored to be the Executive Director and have a role in empowering individuals with Down syndrome.
Roy is originally from the United Kingdom and has lived in the USA for the last 5 years spending 2 years in Orlando, Florida and moving to Charlotte in 2017. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his rescue dogs Jumbo and Abby, hiking, kayaking, and venturing out and around Charlotte with friends.
Joe Tarulli, Vice President
Joe has lived in the Charlotte area for many years and attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill, graduating with a degree in Business Administration/Economics. His career has included roles in sales leadership and currently has executive oversight for sales and global business unit management responsibility.
Joe and his wife Mindi have twin teenage boys and live in Concord. They are deeply involved with their church where the whole family volunteers and Joe serves on the Board of Trustees. Joe is also active with his alma mater, specifically the College of Business Administration. In his free time, Joe enjoys golf and travel with his family.
Joe has been a supporter of the DS community for years, connected via a dear family friend. He is extremely excited to serve on the board of GiGi’s to help multiply the great work currently underway in the Charlotte area.
Danielle Fletcher, Events Chair
Danielle is married and the mother of a beautiful energetic daughter. She has lived in Charlotte for nineteen years and is proud to call the Queen City home. Danielle has a heart to help and to give to others; volunteering has been a part of her life since she was young.
Danielle was motivated to volunteer at GiGi’s Playhouse with the desire to work with an organization whose vision and mission resonated with her own beliefs and with the hope to support and assist families of children and loved ones with Down syndrome. She has over 15 years of event and meeting planning experience and is passionate to inspire others to celebrate life. She is thrilled to bring her passions, gifts and talents to GiGi’s Playhouse as the Events Lead.
Denise Faulkner, Marketing Chair
Denise Faulkner relocated to the Charlotte area with her husband and three children in July of 2016. She has more than 15 years of experience in corporate communications working primarily in the financial services and insurance industries. Earlier in her career, Denise worked in public relations where she provided a wide range of companies with media relations and communications support.
Since her nephew Shane was born, Denise has been looking for an opportunity to lend her skillset and support to the DS community. Shortly after moving to Charlotte she was excited to learn of the plans for a local GiGi’s Playhouse and signed up to volunteer.
Denise looks forward to building relationships within the local community and raising awareness and support for GiGi’s Playhouse Charlotte and individuals with Down syndrome.
Lauren Hunt, Fundraising Chair
Lauren moved to Charlotte in 2014 after attending the University of South Carolina, Columbia, where she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management. Although she is proud of her roots in Greenville, SC her heart and future are in Charlotte, NC. She has a passion for relationship-building and bringing companies and people together for the betterment of the Queen City.
Lauren’s love for fundraising began at an early age and it was put to use while working as the Peer-To-Peer Coordinator at the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation. She also has a background in sales within the print and merchant services industry.
If she is not in her garden, decorating, or tending to her many indoor plants, Lauren is out in the community participating in outreach with the church, networking, or spending time with her boyfriend, friends and family. Lauren is ecstatic about serving on the GiGi’s Playhouse board and seeing the positive impact GiGi’s Playhouse makes!
Ashley Heiligenstadt, Program Coordinator
Ashley moved to Charlotte 5 years ago after receiving her degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from James Madison University.
While at JMU, Ashley worked at the Morrison Bruce Center developing programs for women and girls that promoted active and healthy lifestyles. She also served as a golf and fitness coordinator for the Overcoming Barriers program which focused on motor skill development for children with varying disabilities.
Since then she has worked with athletes of all ages teaching proper body mechanics and overall health and wellness as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in the Charlotte area. She is so excited to continue to get back to her passion of working in the Down Syndrome community through the GiGiFIT program.
Olivia Draeger, Literacy Coordinator
Born and raised in Northern Illinois, Olivia earned her Associate's of Arts Degree and moved to Charlotte in 2019 to complete her BA in English, concentrating in Education and Childhood Studies from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. She also currently serves in the United States Army National Guard full-time.
Olivia was introduced to GiGi's Playhouse Rockford in 2011 where she volunteered her time among various programs including Teen Time, LMNOP, and Math & Literacy Tutoring, and she has held multiple positions within the GiGi's community since then. She was incredibly honored to have been awarded with the 2016 Youth Volunteer Award and loves supporting the programs this organization has to offer.
Olivia grew up in Dance Studios and Community Theater which sparked her interest in directing the first GiGi's Playhouse Rockford theater production, "The Wizard of Oz", in 2018. Because of the work Olivia continues to do through GiGi's, not only does it allow her to help individuals grow and learn, but it also has taught her the importance of strength and acceptance. She is inspired every day by the GiGi's family and support of the community, and is thrilled to work hand-in-hand with such a dedicated team.
Britney Gaia - Social Media Manager/Marketing Committee
Britney moved to Charlotte in 2017 after growing up in Pittsburgh, PA and finishing college at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA, where she received a BA in both Marketing and Intelligence Studies. Upon moving to the city, she worked as a Digital Marketing Analyst at Red Ventures where she was introduced to GiGi’s Playhouse after bee-lining to the booth at a community involvement event and immediately feeling a connection to GiGi’s. Britney has always had a heart for working with children with special needs and advocating for acceptance and inclusion, and could not wait to be involved.
She started her journey with GiGi’s as a “Believer” for a “Dreamer” to help raise money for the Charlotte Playhouse doors to open. Shortly after she became involved with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte as a member of the Buddy Walk event planning committee. Currently Britney works full time in Market Research for the financial services and insurance industry, volunteers as a literacy tutor with GiGi’s, and enjoys all things outdoors. She is thrilled to be a part of the GiGi’s team and looks forward to combining her passions to spread the GiGi’s mission.
Carin Cox Miller, Teen Board Advisor
I am a busy mom to 13 year old twin girls and an 11 year old step-son. They keep me on my toes. When I’m not helping my clients buy or sell a home, you’ll often find me at Soccer Games, Science Fairs, volunteering at GiGi's Playhouse, or the local YMCA.
One of my favorite things to do with my family here in Charlotte is heading to the US National Whitewater Center and climbing the ropes courses.
After attending the University of Central Florida, I spent several years with Merrill Lynch in Jacksonville, FL where I obtained my Series 7 brokers license. After the birth of my twins, I opened a successful eCommerce business that I managed for 9 years before finally following my heart and going into the family business of Real Estate.
I was introduced to GiGi's Playhouse through one of the founding board members. I began co-teaching GiGi's Kitchen and fell in love with GiGi's Playhouse. I knew this was where heart belonged and where I wanted to commit my time to bring awareness about Down Syndrome.
Rachael Rader, Operations Coordinator
Rachael was born and raised in Florida, the sunshine state, and tries to bring a bit of sunshine with her wherever she goes. She recently graduated from UNC Charlotte in May of 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies concentrated in Public Relations. As the daughter of a teacher and social worker she feels a strong sense of duty and connection in service to others and is elated to start her career in the nonprofit sector. Rachael is delighted to be a part of an organization that provides such an essential service to her community and uplift individuals with Down Syndrome. In joining the GiGi's Playhouse team, she hopes to contribute support and joy to our families, volunteers, and team members.
After a quick stint playing professional basketball in Europe for 2 years, Nate moved to CLT in 2015 and has been working at Red Ventures for the past 5 years in a variety of roles centered around Digital Marketing. His desire to help with GiGi’s stems from his numerous interactions with the DS community and its individuals that always leave him inspired, and he wholeheartedly believed in “Acceptance for all”.
He met his wife Anna at App State, and they have 2 young children, Izzy (2) and Joe (7 months). who keep them busy. When it’s nice enough, you’ll find the whole crew outside somewhere, preferably on the water!