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.
Nathan Healy, Program Chair
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!
Dan Schlesing - Treasurer
Dan is a senior wealth planner with over 18 years experience advising high net worth individuals, families, and business owners on all aspects of their wealth.I am a graduate of Campbell University’s Lundy Fetterman School of Business and have worked in the banking industry my entire career.Dan has spent the majority of his life in North Carolina and has lived in South Charlotte since 2005. He and his wife of 16 years, Laura, have three boys,Ryan (age 10), William (age 7), and Matthew (age 3).William was born with Down syndrome in January 2014, and was later diagnosed with Leukemia inAugust 2016. William’s treatment was very difficult and required us to spend a lot of nights at LevineChildren’s hospital over the following 3 year period, with William not being allowed to leave for over a month. This journey has brought us closer together as a family and in our Christian faith.Dan is an active member of Calvary Church, he is also a member of the Levine Children’s HospitalCancer Champions Board, the Charlotte Estate PlanningCouncil, and the Financial Planning Association of Charlotte.Our family participated in the grand opening of GiGi’s playhouse two years ago and I look forward to serving in any capacity to support and promote GiGi’s playhouse in order to enrich the lives of people with Down Syndrome.
Christy Allen - Event Coordinator
Christy is excited to return to GiGi’s Playhouse Charlotte as Events Coordinator after her role as Start-up Lead and playhouse Co-founder. A graduate from the University of Michigan, Christy moved to Charlotte in 2000 to continue her career in HR/Staffing Operations and Leadership Development. In 2012, Christy retired early from the corporate arena to self-publish a children's mystery novel and conduct literary events in schools, writing workshops, homeschool programs and summer camps, while serving as Events Co-chair on the Charlotte board of the Women’s National Book Association. In November 2014, Christy and her husband, John, welcomed their baby boy, Charlie, to the world. Charlie was born with Down syndrome and a rare blood disorder which transitioned to Acute Myeloid Leukemia at 16-months of age. Charlie completed intensive treatment and is happily enjoying regular life again, now almost 5 years in remission! Charlie’s courageous journey to overcome Leukemia inspired Christy to give back, and in March of 2017, the dream to bring a GiGi’s Playhouse to Charlotte was set into motion.