Board Member Spotlight: Taylor Johnson

Not only is April National Volunteer Appreciation Month, but we’re also continuing to roll out spotlights for each of our amazing Board Members! Today we are delighted to recognize Taylor Johnson: Wife, Mother, Theatre Educator, Professional Actor, Disability Justice & Down Syndrome Advocate, and inimitable member of the Board of Managers for GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit!

Taylor holds a BFA in Theatre from Wayne State University and an MA in Applied Drama/Theatre for Young Audiences from Eastern Michigan University. In 2012, she began teaching individuals with disabilities through OpenSpot Theatre (formerly 4th Wall Theatre Company). Her work there inspired her in more ways than one! In 2019, Taylor and her husband, Kyle, joined the registry of hopeful adoptive parents with the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network (NDSAN).

The Johnson family welcomed their chromosomally enhanced kiddo, George, in March of 2019, just a few weeks after GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit had our grand opening.

Very soon after he came home, George visited GiGi’s for the first time, and the Johnsons have been enthusiastic members of our community ever since. We are so lucky Taylor agreed to join our board in October 2020, and co-lead our Drama Troupe shortly thereafter!

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

Hi Taylor, tell us a bit about your professional life.

I teach theatre classes and run a drama club at a local high school, as well as perform in shows throughout Metro Detroit. I also recently started working as the Social Media Coordinator for NDSAN!   

What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?

I love DIY home projects, reading, and running.

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

I got to study abroad in Russia when I was in college! I spent a full month in Moscow, and it was the best month of my life!

When did you first get involved with GiGi’s Playhouse?

I got involved in spring of 2019 when my son was a few months old. I had been following the national organization for years and was thrilled to learn a local Playhouse had opened just a few weeks before George was born. 

How did you find out about GiGi’s Playhouse? 

I learned about GiGi’s Playhouse through the incredible connections of other parents on social media. 

What is your specific role on the board?

I work with the Outreach Team, primarily with families who are either new to the Playhouse or totally new to the Down syndrome community. I love providing resources and support!

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

Anything that gives opportunities to people with Down syndrome is so important to me, but what inspires me most is that the mission aims to empower people with Down syndrome.

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

My family participates in lots of GiGi’s activities! George, who is now 4, has attended LMNOP, GiGiFIT Toddler, and Amina Grace Speech Therapy. I get to co-lead our Drama Troupe every Thursday night. We also love going to many of the events as a family.

How has volunteering here impacted your life?

GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit has given us a community that is invaluable. I am so grateful for all the friends my family has made there.

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

GFAC 2022 was very special to me because we had a great team come out and support, and it was an awesome way to see what an incredible community my son has! 

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

That their version of success is somehow less than, or measured against, the success of someone with 46 chromosomes. 

Why do you believe people with Down syndrome are an important part of our community?

People with Down syndrome have shifted the way I view the entire world! I have learned how to approach others with a soft curiosity, an eagerness to learn more about them, and the ability to meet them where they’re at. These are such important lessons and skills. 

What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse?

Your life will be wholly impacted in the best of ways!

Do you have a favorite quote?

“And you ask

‘What if I fall?

Oh but my darling,

What if you fly?”

~ Erin Hanson

Taylor, you are an inspiration. Thank you for all the joy, passion, and presence you bring to our community. Our world is better with you and your beautiful family in it.

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

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