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, Lizz's passion is to advocate for the Down syndrome community within the Playhouse, as well as speaking engagements and outreach opportunities throughout Northeast Ohio. 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 resides in Lakewood with her husband, Nick, and their two children.
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 since 2017 as a literacy tutor, book club facilitator, and as our Playhouse Host. She has added her grant writing skills and experience to her repertoire here at GiGi's and we are so thankful for the many hats she wears. Annette has enjoyed being 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.
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. 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
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 where he currently works a 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. 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.
Suzy Sylvester – President Emeritus (2019-2021)
Suzy lives in Rocky River with her husband, Bruce McAuliffe, and their three children. Her oldest son, Colin, has Down syndrome. Suzy attended Miami University for her undergraduate degree and Georgetown University for her JD/MBA. She currently works as senior corporate counsel for AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. Suzy and Bruce love 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, 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 Business Development 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.
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.
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.
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 currently works as
a Content Specialist for a comprehensive curriculum, designed for students receiving special education services. 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
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. 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 Lakewood with husband, Patrick, and rescue dog Princess Aurora.
Zack Blau - Board Member
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
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!
Erin Alexeff – Youth Board Facilitator, GiGiFIT Coordinator
Erin, a graduate of University of Toledo, is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist with the 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!
Mary Makulinski - Volunteer Coordinator
Mary is a Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) and joined GiGi’s Playhouse in November of 2019 and created our GiGi’s Music: Project Pulse drumming program for teens and adults. After graduating from the University of Dayton, she further pursued an 8-month internship in the Catskill mountains at The Center for Discovery. Originally from Northwest Ohio, Mary fell in love with Cleveland working for a private practice music therapy company for three years, and now works with the Geriatric Population. Mary loves creating music with all her friends at GiGi’s and experiencing the joy that occurs in the Playhouse! She is excited to join our team as the Volunteer Coordinator and work with all of the incredible volunteers that help make GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland a remarkable place for everyone!