Written by: Ellie McNeil
Ellie McNeil is a fourth-year student at the University of Northern Iowa, studying Recreation, Tourism, and Nonprofit Leadership. She will be interning with GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago for the Summer season. Ellie grew up about 3 hours East of Chicago, in the Quad Cities. She has two older brothers she looks up to and her parents, who have instilled in her the importance of helping others. She also adores her two dogs, Nibbles and Sophie. Her primary professional interest is in nonprofit management/outreach and recreation. She loves dogs, swimming, going to the beach, taking walks, exploring new coffee shops, listening to Taylor Swift, and volunteering. She found her passion for helping others while volunteering at different nonprofit camps for people with disabilities for the past four summers. Ellie knows many people who utilize GiGi’s programs in her hometown and feels inspired by its impact on the Down syndrome community. She hopes to help spread the word about GiGi’s Playhouse to the Chicagoland area and its incredible programs and resources.
1. What will you be doing in your summer internship at the Playhouse?
I will be working alongside the outreach committee, staff, board members this summer! I will also help with the fun events this summer.
2. What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I love to be outside! Taking a nice walk while listening to a podcast is my go-to. I also love to go to the beach and swim!
3. What inspired you to work in this field?
It all comes down to your connections while working in this field. I have met some fantastic people at the different camps and the group homes I have worked in. The smiles, laughs, and friendships made will always be my “why” for my work. Since I have the power and privilege to make a difference in the world by advocating, creating inclusive programs, or simply connecting with people, my dream is to continue this work.
4. What are you looking forward to most while spending time in Chicago in the summer?
I look forward to exploring the different parts of Chicago, visiting the beach, meeting new friends, and enjoying the fantastic pizza here!
5. What are you most excited to learn about during your internship?
I am so excited to work on the different outreach projects, like attending the farmer’s markets and community events! I also look forward to meeting everyone at the Playhouse and experiencing the fun programs.