Board Member Spotlight: Latonya Morgan

We’re back with another Board Member Spotlight, this time featuring the one and only, Latonya Morgan!

Latonya is a proud Detroiter, born and bred. She is also a Spartan alumna, with a degree in Employment & Labor Relations from MSU. She’s one of the founders of GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit and has served on our board since 2018; always bringing great insight and a fresh perspective to discussions.

Latonya has a 30-year-old son named Blake who has also been active in our Playhouse since the beginning. Latonya says she and Blake have always sought opportunities to join and recruit others’ participation in groups and activities that increase awareness, exposure, growth, and acceptance – not only for themselves, but their family, friends, neighbors, and community at large. 

Latonya is a powerful leader and fierce advocate for disability rights and inclusion. In addition to her involvement with GiGi’s, she also served on the board of VSAMI, the local arm of an international arts agency, which provides opportunities for artistic growth and expression of individuals with disabilities. Additionally, she represented the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Family Centered Care Advisory Council, as the parent representative to their Quality Assurance Committee. 

With a heart as sweet as her smile, Latonya has “Mama Bear” down to a T. She carries wisdom, depth, and knowledge from years of advocating for Blake that she graciously shares with families who are newer to the Down syndrome community. She is quick to start up a conversation and seems to truly care about those she meets. She’s incredibly thoughtful and proactively reaches out to offer resources and include others in programs and activities at the Playhouse. We are so lucky to have Latonya on our team!

Please take a moment to get to know her more below! 

Hi Latonya, what was your daytime occupation and where?  

I am retired after 35 years of working for the State of Michigan. I worked for fourteen years as a Probation Officer (MI Dept of Corrections) and twenty-one years as a Regulation Officer (MI Gaming Control Board). 

What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?   

I love cooking and the challenge of adapting Blake’s favorite recipes to his dietary needs (no beef or dairy, low-acid, and largely gluten-free), while keeping them delicious. I also love to travel. One of my favorite trips was when my mom, two of her friends, and I accompanied Blake on The Buddy Cruise for his 25th birthday. We had a wonderful time!

What’s a fun fact about you that might surprise us?  

While I was a student at MSU, I got to set up the dressing room for a Prince concert. Prince and I exchanged a verbal hello AND he smiled at me!

How did you find out about GiGi’s Playhouse?

I first heard about GiGi’s through one of Blake’s Godmothers in Chicago. Identifying and accessing adult opportunities for Blake and his peers had been a continual challenge, so I was excited for the development of this great resource in the Down syndrome community. When I heard one was opening in Michigan, I immediately wanted to get involved.

What inspires you about the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse?  

That it fosters inclusion, advocacy, self-esteem & personal growth. 

Do you participate in programs and/or events? If so, which ones?  

I help out with Fantastic Friends and hope to develop more programming for mature adults – the 30+ demographic. Blake has participated in Friends, Fun & Fitness, EPIC, Drama Troupe, Fantastic Friends, Math & Literacy Tutoring, and Speech Therapy, so I get to witness all of those programs as well.  

How has volunteering here impacted your life?  

It is a pleasure and privilege to provide whatever support we can for the enrichment & inclusion of everyone who comes through our doors.

Do you have a favorite memory from your experiences at GiGi’s?  

Connecting our Art Explosion leader, Demetris Stewart, with GiGi’s Playhouse and seeing her thrive in this role.

Carol (left), Latonya (back), Demetris (right), Blake (front)

What would you say is the biggest misconception about individuals with Down syndrome?  

There is a common misconception that people with Down syndrome cant learn, and that they don’t feel the same range of emotions as others. This simply is not true.  

What are some of your core values? 

I believe in fairness, access, honesty & integrity, kindness, reciprocal relationships, living by the golden rule & leading by example. 

Do you have a favorite quote?   

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou

That is a beautiful and important quote for a beautiful and important woman. Thank you Latonya for all that you give to our Playhouse!

Stay tuned for more Board Member Spotlights in the coming months!

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