Outreach: Elizabeth Ray, Shanda Kaiser, Chad Noyes, Alyse Mastrodonato
Programs: Jill Rabin, Erin Kaminsky
Marketing & Communications: Chad Noyes, Joe Brogni
Fundraising/Events: Alyse Mastrodonato, Lisa Strons, Kathy Eiring, Dr. Deborah Anderson
Alyse Mastrodonato, President
Alyse & her husband Nick found GiGi’s Deerfield after the birth of their son, Conner. With a passion to make a difference, Alyse is excited to be a part of the Deerfield team. Currently a stay at home mom with a love for the outdoors, music & her family, she is anticipating a return to work as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. She strives for everyone’s potential to shine, which is exactly what she plans to do for Conner, his friends & the playhouse. “Let’s make this playhouse ROCK!
Elizabeth Ray, Vice President
Elizabeth Ray joined the team for GiGi's Playhouse Deerfield when the start-up team formed. Her involvement with and passion for the Down syndrome community began when her youngest child was born in 2016 with DS. From the first time she walked into a Gigi's Playhouse she knew it was a place and a resource that all families with a loved one with DS should have within their community; she now serves as the Vice President of this location. In addition to working on the GiGi's Playhouse executive board Elizabeth is a 7th grade science teacher and is married with 4 children. In her free time she loves to spend time with her family, run and cook.
Henrik Turk - Treasurer
Henrik Turk and his family (wife Bethany, daughter Vivian, and son Carlyle) live on the northwest side of Chicago in the Edgebrook neighborhood. Henrik was introduced to Gigi’s Playhouse shortly after Vivian was born in 2017. Since then, Henrik and his family have been active participants in classes and events at multiple Gigi’s locations including Chicago and Hoffman Estates, and most recently Deerfield as their “home” playhouse.
Henrik works for Ernst and Young, LLP in the Financial Accounting Advisory group. He received a BA from Valparaiso University and an MBA and MS in Accounting from Loyola University Chicago. He is a CPA in Illinois.
In his spare time, Henrik enjoys spending time with his family outdoors especially at the beach (Chicago, Northern Michigan, and Florida are their favorites!). He also enjoys playing guitar, soccer, and running.
Shanda Kaiser, Secretary
Shanda Kaiser loves being a part of the GiGi’s Playhouse Deerfield team. She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and received a degree in psychology from the University of Utah. She enjoyed working with people and went on to get her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan. After working in a variety of settings, she chose to stay at home after having her first child. Shanda now has 3 children and her youngest child has Down syndrome. Shanda enjoys volunteering in her kid’s schools and with the local Learning Difference Association. She’s thrilled to be working as part of a team to open a GiGi’s Playhouse near her home. GiGi’s Playhouse will benefit her daughter and many others in the community. It will also be a wonderful place for the community to come together and make a difference.
Erin Kaminsky, Board Member
Erin Kaminsky joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Deerfield team in 2018. Upon graduating with a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1998, Erin worked in operations management and then went on to pursue her childhood passion—teaching German. She holds a Masters in teaching English as a second language. Erin has been teaching German to young children since 2001 and since 2010 she has been the head of the German program at Highcrest Middle School and Wilmette Junior High School. Erin and her husband, Mac, have two children, one of whom has Down syndrome. Erin is excited to give back to the Gigi’s community that enabled her daughter with DS to start reading before the age of 3 and has provided her family with a network of support. As a board member, Erin is committed to helping other families realize all of the joy and potential that their children with this extra chromosome have to offer.
Chad Noyes, Board Member
Chad Noyes has been a financial services professional for the past 13 years and is currently with the WestPoint Financial Group. His expertise is retirement income planning, business owner strategies and special needs planning. Chad has the advanced degrees of CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter), ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) and ChSNC (Chartered Special Needs Consultant) related to insurance and family protection. He and his wife, Dani, were expecting their 2nd child (Charlie) when they found out early in the pregnancy that he had Down syndrome. Unfortunately, Charlie was delivered stillborn due to complications related to Down syndrome. At the time, GiGi’s Playhouse was an important support system to help process their loss. Since then, Chad has been working with GiGi’s Playhouse Deerfield on the Outreach and Communications Committees to help spread awareness and acceptance to local individuals, families, and communities about Down syndrome. Chad and Dani have three other children - Cooper (10), Cameron (5) and Charlotte (3)….and are working hard to raise the next generation of Chicago Cubs fans!
Jill Rabin, Board Member
Jill Rabin is a pediatric speech pathologist and international board certified lactation consultant who works with infants to three year olds. She has a private practice in the Chicagoland area where she primarily sees at-risk and special needs breastfeeding patients, children with Down syndrome and children with feeding aversion through the early intervention system. She often follows her patients with Down syndrome as breastfeeding newborns until they age out of the early intervention system. She also counsels pregnant mothers of babies with a prenatal diagnosis about how to establish breastfeeding. She utilizes the Baby-Led Weaning approach in transitioning babies to solid food feedings, and has found great success in using this approach with babies with Down syndrome and feeding aversion. She has lectured nationally and internationally on topics related to breastfeeding at-risk infants, feeding aversion and the impact of Baby-Led Weaning as a method to transition to solids. She has authored chapters in a book called Nursing Down Syndrome which is due to be published in the fall of 2018. She has also been a guest blogger writing posts on facilitating breastfeeding in babies with Down syndrome for Julia’s Way. It is her goal to build a collaborative relationship between speech pathologists and lactation consultants in hopes of increasing the possibility of successful breastfeeding, especially for at-risk infants.
Lisa Strons, Board Member
Lisa Strons is married to Eric, and is mother to two beautiful girls, Kelly (11) and Avery (8). Avery was born with Down Syndrome. Lisa is an alumnus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa with a degree in Life Sciences. Upon retiring from Abbott Laboratories with 26 years of service, she has started a new career at Abbvie. Lisa feels honored to be part of the Board of Directors for GIGI’s Deerfield. She looks forward to positively impacting the families of the North Shore of Chicago who have been touched by Down Syndrome.
Kathy Eiring, Board Member
Kathy has been a Police Officer for twenty years and is currently at the Buffalo Grove Police Department. She enjoys time with her wife Mary and two step kids Emma and Cole. Kathy has volunteered with Special Olympics for 15 years and found a passion for supporting people with disabilities. She is also a huge advocate for elderly citizens. When she is not protecting and serving her community she is rooting on the Chicago Cubs!
Dr. Deborah Anderson, Board Member
Dr. Deborah Anderson (Debbie) and her husband, John, have been friends of GiGi’s Playhouse for several years and enjoyed leading the Leaps and Bounds program in 2019. Debbie and John live in Naperville, IL where they raised their three, now grown, children. Debbie is a pediatric physical therapist and the Director of the Physical Therapy Program at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL. Debbie looks forward to joining the Board and continuing to support the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse.
Joe Brogni, Board Member
Joe Brogni grew up in Buffalo Grove and currently resides in Twin Lakes, WI. He coached football for nine years at Holy Cross High School in Deerfield. Joe currently works in sales at Reqourdit INC. His passion is to help local organizations and kids in his community.
Shannon Powell, Site Coordinator
Shannon started at the GiGi's Playhouse National Office in 2015 as a place to learn and grow doing something positive while she figured out her long term career goals. Within a few months of her position at GiGi's she "drank the kool-aid" and realized that this was no longer a stepping stone but a life mission. Shannon worked as the jack-of-all trades in many different departments at the National Office but found her niche in marketing and supporting the start-up teams. Working with the Deerfield team inspired her and when the opportunity arose to run the new location she jumped at the chance. She looks forward to connecting to families at the new playhouse and helping to change the way the world sees Down syndrome.