Lizz Maxwell – Site Director
Lizz joined GiGi's Playhouse Cleveland in January 2016 with over twelve years of alternative education experience and leadership. A graduate of Notre Dame College, her passion is to advocate for the Down syndrome community within the Playhouse, as well as out in the Northeast Ohio communities, through speaking engagements and outreach opportunities. Lizz oversees all aspects of the Playhouse, from day-to-day operations, community outreach, event planning, marketing, grant writing and fundraising. Her mission is to serve, educate, and ensure meaningful programs for our participants and a positive environment for anyone who walks through our doors. Lizz was instrumental in creating the Generation G school curriculum utilized across the GiGi's Playhouse network. She is a member of the Developmental Disabilities - Practice Based Research Network. Lizz resides in Lakewood with her husband, Nick, and their two children.
Mary Makulinski - Operations Manager
Mary is a Board-Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) and a graduate of the University of Dayton. After graduating, she further pursued an 8-month internship in the Catskill mountains at The Center for Discovery. She joined GiGi’s Playhouse in November of 2019, successfully creating and launching our GiGi’s Music: Project Pulse drumming program for teens and adults. Through her clinical training as a music therapist, administrative training as Director of Activities at a nursing facility, and volunteer experience at GiGi's Playhouse, it was an easy decision to take on the Operations Manager position. Mary loves engaging with everyone who enters the Playhouse doors and experiencing the joy and Best of All that occurs in the Playhouse! She is excited to join our team as the Operations Manager and continue to work with all the incredible volunteers, participants, and families that help make GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland a remarkable place for everyone!
Erin Alexeff – GiGiFIT Coordinator, Youth Board Facilitator
Erin, a graduate of University of Toledo, is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Director of Programming for Rec2Connect, as well as being a certified yoga instructor. She joined our GiGi’s family in February of 2016 as our Program Coordinator and was a recipient of the National Volunteer of the Year Award at the GiGi’s Playhouse National Conference in Chicago after she helped implement and run most of our purposeful programming that year. After a brief move, she came back as our Youth Board Facilitator and GiGiFIT Coordinator. Her Youth Board has set a profound example in the community as they create and hold fundraisers and events for high school students in the area. She organizes, implements and runs our GiGiFIT programs, as well as helps incorporate Recreation therapy into all of our therapeutic programs. Erin has enjoyed being a part of our GiGi’s Cleveland family since its inception and loves coming to the Playhouse to see all of her friends!
Libby Farrell - Speech Language Pathologist
Libby is a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, earning her Bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology at Cleveland State University. Much of Libby’s experience was spent working in a school setting in self-contained special education classrooms in Chicago, gaining extensive experience working with people with complex communication needs, thus gaining a strong background in augmentative alternative communication (AAC) systems. Libby also worked at GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago where she implemented the Amina Grace Speech & Language program beginning in 2017 up until she relocated back to the west side of Cleveland in 2022. She is excited to bring this incredible program to GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland and work with our amazing participants! Outside of her work as an SLP she enjoys biking, skiing, traveling, attending concerts, and practicing photography.
Our Board of Managers
Emily Monteleone – President
Emily has a background in healthcare leadership and a passion for helping others. She has managed and led high-performing teams throughout her career at Cleveland Clinic and is grateful to have the opportunity to share those skills as she supports the Board. She is currently Director, Strategic Workforce Planning at Cleveland Clinic. Bringing GiGi’s Playhouse to our Cleveland community was something Emily was thrilled to be a part of as a founding member and she is excited to continue growing our support for the Down syndrome community.
Ben Meisenzahl - Vice President, Development Chair
Ben lives in Rocky River with his wife Erin and his two children Madeline and George. Ben attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and is an 18 year employee with The Sherwin-Williams Company and is currently Senior Vice President of Finance. Ben sought out board opportunities with organizations where his family could also be involved and looks forward to providing strategic support to the growth efforts of GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland.
Jim Predmore - Treasurer
Jim is a graduate of the University of Akron where he obtained his bachelor's and master's degree in Accountancy. While working in public accounting he obtained his CPA certification and moved to the Cleveland area. Jim is currently the Senior Operations Analyst, FP&A for Brookfield Properties. His eyes were opened to the magic of GiGi's through the New Year's Eve event ringing in 2019. Since that time he has become a Certified Wellness Coach and is studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer, looking to build on his two biggest passions: mindfulness and fitness. When the opportunity to join GiGi's as a Treasurer presented itself, he knew this would be the perfect way to put his accounting and finance skills to great use. He's so grateful to join the amazing GiGi's community and make a difference to the organization in whatever way he can.
Carrie Litten - Secretary
Carrie has worked as a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for over 20 years. She currently works as the Lead Advanced Practice Provider in the Emergency Department at Akron Children’s Hospital. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Capital University, a Master of Science in Nursing from Case Western Reserve University and, as a lifelong learner, went back to school and completed her Doctorate in Nursing Practice at the University of Akron in 2018. She is passionate about health care, fitness and wellness. She has called Lakewood home for most of her life, and lives here with her three children. She has been blessed by her relationships with individuals with Down syndrome through her life, most impact fully her dear Aunt Ellen. Carrie is thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the work at GiGi’s Playhouse and advocate for acceptance for all.
Amy Barker – Board Member
Amy Barker resides in Akron, Ohio with her two children Madeleine and Harrison. Her son Harrison has Down Syndrome. Amy is a graduate of Kent State University and has worked in sales for the last 24 years. She is currently employed by MSC Industrial Corporation as a "National Accountant" Manager. She has enjoyed sharing her leadership, strategic planning and business acumen with GiGi’s Playhouse. Amy is very passionate about awareness and educating the community about Down Syndrome. She has enjoyed working with the community and being a part of GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland.
Jeanne Mullin – Board Member
Jeanne Mullin is an experienced trial attorney with over 20 years of experience and serves as the co-managing partner of the Cleveland office of Perez Morris, a Columbus, Ohio based women owned law firm. Jeanne’s practice is focused mainly on the defense of medical and professional negligence cases. She also serves as chair of the firm's Medical Malpractice Group.
Jeanne and her husband, Dave Gray, are the parents of five children. Their third son, Nicholas, has Down syndrome. For years, Jeanne served her community as a member of the board of the PM Foundation Inc., dba Urban Community School, a non-profit organization devoted to providing a quality, faith-based education to children in the near west side of Cleveland who would not otherwise have access to it. In 2015, she decided to change her philanthropic focus, and joined GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland where she works to further the mission of educating and inspiring the community, and helping individuals who have Down syndrome achieve and realize their potential.
Brian Kilbane – Honorary Board Member - Self Advocate
Brian is a proud 1991 Graduate from Garfield Heights High School where he earned a varsity letter in golf and was varsity manager in both football and basketball. Brian has worked in the supermarket industry for 24 years and has been with Giant Eagle Supermarkets for the past 15 years.
Brian is clearly one of Cleveland’s most ardent sports fans and has unwavering loyalty to the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians as well as Cleveland State and his beloved Buckeyes.
Brian is the youngest of 8 and is the favorite uncle and great uncle of the ever-expanding Kilbane clan. Brian lives with his mother Betty in North Royalton, Ohio and when he is not working he enjoys playing golf and attending as many Cleveland sporting events as he can. When Brian was asked to be the Honorary Chairman to GiGi’s Inaugural Gala, Brian quickly responded, “Yes, I will do anything to help the kids.”
Molly Moser - Board Member
Molly has worked in special education for the last 12 years. She is currently the Director of Transition & Vocational Services for Steps Educational Group. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Kent State University and has a permanent teaching license in the State of Ohio for K-21 Special Education, as well as a Transitions to Work Endorsement. After living in Denver, for the last decade, Molly is thrilled to be back in Lakewood, where she grew up. She is excited to be on the board and continue the work of GiGi’s Playhouse, sharing the message of acceptance for all.
Jim Atkins - Board Member
Jim is the North American Sales Manager for Nordson Corporation and resides with his wife Melissa and three children in Avon, OH. In addition to spending time with his family, Jim is also passionate about moving the GiGi’s message forward through volunteering opportunities, as well as developing the strategic vision for GiGi’s Playhouse. A graduate of Bowling Green University and Olmsted Falls High School, Jim has held several roles in sales leadership and enjoys collaborating with others towards a unified goal. Jim’s passion for the GiGi’s mission stems from deep rooted personal relationships with those close to him, and he understands that the tools and resources that the Playhouse provide are invaluable to those it serves.
Celeste Blau - Board Member, Event Co-Chair
Celeste has considered herself a part of the GiGi's Playhouse family since receiving her daughter's prenatal diagnosis – one week before GiGi's Playhouse Cleveland opened half a mile from her house. A graduate of The Ohio State University, her career encompasses a wide range of experiences in all aspects of marketing, business and real estate management and entrepreneurship, across a variety of industries including non-profits, healthcare and hospitality. She is currently the Assistant Director of xLab at Case Western Reserve University – Weatherhead School of Management. Celeste is also a passionate serial volunteer and was a former VP on the board for the Citizens' Committee for the Lakewood Animal Shelter and mayoral appointee to the Lakewood Animal Welfare and Advisory Board to city council. But her favorite role thus far is “MOMMY!” to her three children, Clementine (who has Down syndrome), Finneas, and Marigold. She resides in Fairview Park with husband, Patrick, their children, and rescue dog, Princess Aurora.
Zack Blau - Board Member, Event Co-Chair
Zack became involved in the Down syndrome community after the birth of his niece, Clementine, who has Down syndrome. He took on Brew Ha Ha Co-Chair responsibilities to grow his involvement with GiGi's Playhouse and has since expanded to planning other events for the Playhouse, to grow the reach, fundraising and message of inclusion at GiGi's. A graduate of The Ohio State University and the Mount Leadership Society, he has worked in various marketing and sales roles, has managed his own business and food truck and is currently a Sales Manager with Great Lakes Brewing Company, where he has worked for more than a decade. Zack has also embraced the role of "Uncle Zackie" to his sister's three children.
Our Key Volunteers
Amanda Simon - Family Outreach
Amanda studied at The University of Akron for both undergraduate and graduate school where she earned a Master's degree in Speech Language Pathology. For 10 years, she worked with adults in a skilled nursing facility, providing rehabilitation to help patients improve speech, language, cognitive, and swallowing function. However, for the last 8 years, she's taken on the role of stay-at-home mom to three amazing boys! After having James, who has Down syndrome, their family began using sign language as a way to connect and communicate. She believed in it so much that she decided to become a certified Baby Signing Time Instructor. Shortly after, GiGi’s Playhouse opened their doors and she's been hooked since the grand opening! As soon as she heard about the LMNOP program, she knew she wanted to be a part of it! She has been the Program Lead for LMNOP for 8 years now. She loves teaching families basic sign language vocabulary as a tool to enhance communication with their littles, in addition to providing support to families as the Family Outreach Volunteer. She enjoys connecting with new families and assisting in providing resources and connections for them!
Rossalyn Rupe - Math Coordinator
Rossalyn lives in Lakewood with her husband Nick and their dog, Shadow. She's been involved with GiGi’s Playhouse since February 2018 as a math and literacy tutor. She earned her degree in psychology at Kent State University where she also took classes in the special education field. She currently attends Cuyahoga County Community College and is majoring in early childhood education. Rossalyn enjoys helping and supporting our participants and their families reach their goals and loves celebrating even the smallest accomplishments. She loves serving our community at GiGi’s Playhouse as the Math Coordinator!