Megan Lodge – Board member (President 2014-2017)
Megan is thrilled to be a member of the GiGi’s team! Megan grew up on the west side of Cleveland and now resides in Avon with her husband Greg and three boys, Ryan, Cooper and Brendan. Her oldest, Ryan, shocked everyone when he was born in 2004 with Down syndrome, and he continues to surprise them daily with his zest for life. Megan works for PNC as a Project Manager in Corporate and Institutional Banking and utilizes her communication and project management skills to help lead the GiGi’s team. Megan first learned about GiGi’s years ago through a family friend from Chicago, and has dreamed of a GiGi’s Playhouse in Cleveland since then, and is so happy to be a part of making that dream come true.
Suzy Sylvester – Vice President
Suzy lives in Rocky River with her husband, Bruce McAuliffe, and their three children. Her oldest son, Colin, has Down syndrome. Suzy is an attorney with Thompson Hine LLP. Suzy and Bruce look forward to having a place that offers programs focused on supporting Colin’s academic and social growth, that creates opportunities for all families to share experiences and that encourages the community at large to realize the amazing abilities of all individuals, especially those with Down syndrome.
Amy Barker – Secretary
Amy Barker resides in Akron with her two children Madeleine and Harrison. Her son Harrison has Down syndrome. Amy has worked in sales for the last 18 years. She is currently employed by Grainger Corporation as a Business Development Manager. She hopes to share 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 looks forward to working with the community and being part of GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland.
Constance Cusma – Treasurer
Connie Cusma lives in Fairview Park with her husband and three children, Lexi, Tony and Gus. Tony, her middle child, has Down syndrome. Connie has worked in accounting for 23 years. For the past 16 years she has worked at The Cleveland Clinic in Corporate Accounting as a Financial Analyst. Connie is looking forward to the Treasurer’s role and is excited to share her expertise in accounting and finance. Connie has pioneered her way through the educational process with Tony and is excited to see what opportunities are in store for him.
Christine (Tina) Kolas – Board Member - Education Liaison
Tina is an Educator with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. She attended The Ohio State University, Kent State University, as well as Cleveland State University. Christine has a permanent license for the State of Ohio in all areas of Special Education. She holds a Principal License for the State of Ohio in Elementary, Middle School, and High School. She has 35 years of experience in the Special Education Field. She was the Department Chairperson for Special Education at Glenville High School in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for 20 years and most recently retired as the Principal of Louis Agassiz School, Pre K to 8th grade.
Christine has served on the State Board of Ohio Council for Exceptional Children for 35 years and has held the positions of President and is currently the Past President. She has served on several State of Ohio committees for the Office of Exceptional Children of the Ohio Department of Education, which include the Policies and Procedures Committee and the Committee that created the IEP which is currently used for children with special needs.
Jeanne Mullin – Board Member
Jeanne Mullin is a partner/shareholder with the Cleveland based law firm of Reminger Co., L.P.A. where her practice is focused mainly on the defense of medical and professional negligence cases. She serves as co-chair of the firm's Medical Malpractice Group and is a member of the Management Group. She also is a past leader of Reminger's Women's Initiative.
Jeanne and her husband, Dave Gray, are the parents of five young 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 hopes to further the mission of educating and inspiring the community, and helping individuals who have Down syndrome achieve and realize their potential.
Emily Monteleone – Board Member
Emily has a background in healthcare leadership and a passion for helping others. She has managed and built high-performing teams and is excited to use those skills as she assists with the development of the Board as well as supporting and managing the Site Coordinator role. Bringing GiGi’s Playhouse to Cleveland is something Emily has been thrilled to be a part of and she looks forward to supporting the Down syndrome community.
Abby Lader Wald – Board Member
Abby is passionate about helping others, acceptance for all, and giving back to the community. She is a pediatrician in Lakewood, and after seeing the positive impact GiGi’s Playhouse has had on both on the community and on the families of her patients with Down syndrome, she wanted to get more involved and take an active role in this organization. She grew up in Lakewood and now lives in Shaker Heights with her family, who are all excited to be part of the GiGi’s Playhouse community.
Ben Meisenzahl - Board Member
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 a 15 year employee with The Sherwin-Williams Company where he currently works as Vice President of Finance for the Industrial Wood Coatings Division. 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.
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.”
Lizz Maxwell – Site Coordinator
Lizz is excited to be a part of such a fantastic team and community! She joined GiGi's Playhouse Cleveland in 2016 with over 12 years of alternative education experience and leadership. She carries a deep passion to serve and advocate for this incredible community. You will find her at the Playhouse or out in the Northeast Ohio communities bringing awareness through speaking engagements and collaborations. Her mission is to educate and inspire, while our participants believe in achieving their goals! Lizz resides in Lakewood with her husband, Nick, their son, Aidan, and their daughter, Adelean.
Dawn Shivey – Program Coordinator
Dawn lives in Avon Lake with her husband, Mike. They are blessed with four children: Faith, Isaac, Nathan and their “bonus baby” Will. Will was born with Down syndrome in 2013 and has led the Shivey family on an amazing journey ever since.
Dawn taught Middle School Language Arts and Math for ten years. She earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education with a focus on Secondary Transition from Bowling Green State University. Her goal is to be sure GiGi University opens in Cleveland! She is excited to share her passion for GiGi’s Playhouse as their Program Coordinator.
Annette Manco Brady - Playhouse Assistant
Annette brings a genuine enthusiasm, work ethic, and excitement to her position at GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland. Her career has been dedicated to providing purposeful services for children, the youth at-risk population and to those most in need of supportive services and the removal of barriers to success. Annette has been serving GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland for the past year and a half as a literacy tutor, book club facilitator, and as our Playhouse Host. She is thrilled to be a part of the amazing team at GiGi’s Playhouse!
Annette resides in Lakewood with her husband, Terence, and enjoys spending time with her beautiful six grandchildren: Carter, Logan, Beck, Eileen, Olivia, and Cameron.
Rossalyn Rupe - Math Coordinator
Rossalyn lives in Lakewood with her husband Nick, 1 dog, and 3 rats. 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 aspires to help and support our participants and their families reach their goals, and loves celebrating even the smallest accomplishments. She is excited to work with everyone here at GiGi’s Playhouse as the Math Coordinator!
Megan Futo - Literacy Coordinator
Megan joins the Cleveland team with an array of experience in leading teams and implementing creative ways to achieving goals. She is excited to bring these skills, along with her passion for reading, to the Playhouse as the Literacy Coordinator. She believes that every child can achieve their literacy goals and is excited to implement the GiGi’s Playhouse literacy curriculum!
Megan and her husband, Bob, reside in Cleveland with their five children.
Erin Alexeff - Youth Board Facilitator, Fitness Coordinator
Erin, a graduate of University of Toledo, is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Therapist with the Cleveland Clinic and Rec2Connect Foundation, 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 Fitness 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 fitness programs (TEAM, GiGiFIT), as well as helps incorporate rec therapy into all of our therapeutic programs. Erin has enjoyed being a part of our GiGi’s family for the past three years and loves coming to the Playhouse to see all of her friends!