President: Lisa Kocab
Vice President: Denise Moore
Treasurer: Heather Sullivan
Secretary: Amy Tyrrell
Additional Board Members:
- David Kocab
- Amy Tyrrell
- Ashley Caza
- Wendy Arabo
- Laura Lilley
- Jocelyn Cook
- Molly Corombos
- Tricia Dewar
- Kim Harper
- Jeff Harper
- Suzanne O'Leary
- Luke Tyrrell
- Elizabeth Holmes
- LaTonya Morgan
- Sherri Karabelski
Site Coordinator: Kaitlyn Wojciechowski
Program Coordinator: Kathleen Tynes
Volunteer Coordinator: Allie Plancon
- Outreach: Denise Moore
- Programs: Suzanne O'Leary, Lisa Kocab and Laura Lilley
- Marketing & Communications: Jocelyn Cook
- Fundraising: Ashley Caza
- Events: Jorja Rapelje-Frank
- Facility: Wendy Arabo, Amy Tyrrell
Lisa lives in Brighton with her husband David of 21 years. Together they have five children, all boys, ranging in age from 20 years down to 7 years old. Their youngest child, Pj, has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. Lisa has been teaching on and off since 1994 and currently teaches in Brighton Area Schools in a special education classroom. Lisa was the board chair for the special education advisory board for the Mequon-Thiensville School District while her family was living in Wisconsin. Lisa and her husband David were a part of the start- up committee to open up the GiGi’s Playhouse in Milwaukee. Lisa and David returned to Michigan two years ago and feel so blessed to have such a great group families that have bonded together to open the first playhouse in Michigan.
I am originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area. After graduating from John Carroll University in 1994, I earned my J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1997. I worked in private practice with several Detroit area law firms until 2006 when I joined Johnson Controls, relocating to their Milwaukee office in2010. Our fifth of five sons, Patrick (“PJ”) was born in April, 2011. PJ’s surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome and his emergency surgery to address an imperforate anus, along with the subsequent complications, knocked us on our heels. After PJ was whisked away by ambulance from his birth hospital to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, we spent weeks in the NICU wondering if he would survive. His stay in the NICU was followed by months of home care and several follow-up procedures to reverse his colostomy. During that time we struggled to find anything we could about PJ’s extra chromosome and the possibilities for his future. When my wife discovered GiGi’s Playhouse, we immediately decided to bring one to Milwaukee and opened the first playhouse in Wisconsin in 2014. Since then, our family relocated back to Michigan for my current job with Adient, a spin-off of Johnson Controls. In addition to my involvement with the GiGi’s Playhouse of Detroit committee, I coach my sons’ sports teams whenever I can, including football and basketball. I have been a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit since 2011, focusing on a multi-million dollar campaign for the construction of a new shelter scheduled to open in 2018.
Amy Tyrrell lives in Beverly Hills MI with her husband David of 22 years and her children Luke (18) and Daniel (14). Amy is an independent recruiter and has had her own business since 2007 called zeal recruiting. She has worked in corporate and agency settings leading recruiting functions since 1994 in the metro Detroit area. She is active at both boys activities and schools.
Heather Sullivan lives in Beverly Hills MI with her husband David. They have two children, Katie (23) and Sean (18). Heather has a Master of Accounting and Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. She has worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers for 29 years and is currently an Assurance Director in PwC's Private Company Services practice.
I grew up in New York and California and worked as Epidemiologist at UCLA and UC San Diego. I met my husband, Paul, and we started our family of four (Shannon – 26, Sean – 24, Colin – 21 and Riley 19). Our youngest, Riley, was born with Down syndrome so we decided to move back to Michigan near Paul’s large supportive family. Since our move to Birmingham Michigan, I got involved in our kids school and community activities. I helped start the first 3 local Buddy Walks in our area to raise awareness and money for our local Down syndrome support group. I was a board member and president of Friends of Different Learners, an independent organization of parents, staff and community members dedicated to maximizing the potential of Birmingham Public School students with different abilities. I really enjoy helping to make our community the best place for my son and his special needs friends. I helped start a summer program where our kids could grow academically, physically and socially and was on the Special Needs Committee at our local YMCA to encourage programs for our kids. When I heard about GiGi’s Playhouse and the amazing opportunities (educational, therapeutic and career development) for children and adults with Down syndrome, I knew I wanted to get involved and help open up a Playhouse in our community. Our family is so excited that GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit will be opening soon and we look forward to getting involved and helping all people with Down syndrome reach their potential and bring joy to our community.
Jeff Harper is a Principal Training Engineer with MathWorks. He teaches people across the country how to use the MathWorks software for engineering and science applications. He has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University, and an MBA from Walsh College. Jeff is a co-inventor on two U.S. patents. In his spare time, he likes to visit amusement parks and ride roller coasters, having ridden more than 900 different coasters. He is the proud father of two beautiful children, Katie and Grant.
My name is Ashley Caza. I live in Beverly Hills, Michigan with my husband, Bob, we have been married for 17 years, and 4 children: Bella (15), Abbie (13), Darin (8) and Zac (4). Our youngest, Zac, has Down syndrome. For the last 15 years I have been a freelance graphic designer keeping busy with a wide range of clients. This path has afforded me the opportunity to be involved in many areas of my kids lives, everything from being on the PTA to starting a student DIY Festival. My interests are in all things creative, organized and active! I love graphic design, creating and exercising the right side of my brain. I also love balance, so the left side of my brain gets a work out as I bring organization and structure to both mine and my families lives. I find great joy in being outside, spending time with my family, going to the gym and reading a good book. I and beyond excited for of GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit, my kids are looking forward to spending time at the Playhouse and I am anxious to invite our community to be a part of all the great things the Playhouse will bring to our area!
I live in Royal Oak, MI and have two boys, Robby (18) and Christopher (16, w/ DS). I've been involved in the local Down syndrome community for over 16 years, helping to organize fundraising events and writing and editing newsletters and promotional literature. I have a background in marketing and I'm currently looking for a full time job.
My name is Wendy Ãrabo. I'm an interior designer. My daughter Mary is 24 years old and has Down Syndrome. Mary has 2 siblings whom she's extremely close to. She has an older sister, Rio and a younger brother, Reno. After high school, we have been struggling to find post-secondary school who can give her the tools to become a productive part of society to no avail . GiGi's achievement center is the answer to our prayers. My family and I pledge to help and do everything we can to open GiGi's play house in Detroit. Mary's future looks promising, thanks to GiGis.
Denise lives in Birmingham, Michigan with her husband Bob and three children – twin sons Evan and Kyle and daughter Amber, who has Downs syndrome. Denise graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in Business. Denise’s professional background is commercial insurance underwriting. After the birth of her daughter, Denise quit the insurance business and became a special needs advocate. From 2012 - 2016, she served on the Board of Friends of Different Learners (a special needs PTA for Birmingham School District), 2 years of those years as President. In addition to serving on the steering committee to open GiGi’s Playhouse - Detroit, Denise runs Disability Awareness Workshops for all 4th grade students in the Birmingham School District. Denise and her family are excited to have a GiGi's Playhouse in Detroit, and are especially glad it offers programs for people of all ages.
My name is Colleen Holmes. My husband Mark and I are Michiganders and have one daughter named Elizabeth who is 20 years old. She has Down syndrome. While born in Chicagoland after 5 years we wanted to come back to Michigan to be closer to family in Bloomfield Hills and our beautiful lakes and woods. It didn’t take long to find a family support group for Down syndrome and plug into local activities that helped Elizabeth flourish in her development socially, physically and emotionally. Over these past 20 years it has been my joy to work as a committee and a board members with various groups affiliated with the special needs community, such as the Down Syndrome Guild of SEMI, the Parent Advisory Committees at the district and county levels over Elizabeth’s elementary through high school years, and with Joni and Friends – a faith-based non-profit that assists in establishing special education ministries and family retreats. My personal goal is to help our community come alongside families persons of all ages who are affected by disabilities by meeting them right where are at in life and helping set them on the road to success with great confidence. I am confident that GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit will become a pillar of our community’s landscape to help persons who have Down syndrome, and other disabilities, become the best persons they can be and contribute to society in a beautiful way!
My name is Molly Corombos and my interest in joining the Gigi’s Playhouse came to be after my daughter Catherine was born in 2009 with an extra 21st chromosome. I am currently a stay at home mom who remains busy taking care of Catherine and my 4 year old son Jack. Before deciding to stay home I worked for ricewaterhouseCoopers for 17 years helping the firm’s audit partners write proposals, give presentations and win large business development opportunities. I have been married to Mark Corombos for 13 years and am a proud Michigan State University graduate with degrees in journalism and English.
Jocelyn Cook and her husband Chris live in Birmingham with their daughter Julia (7) who has Ds. As an advocate for inclusion and early intervention for children with Down syndrome, she quickly realized the large disparity families experience in the area and the need for additional support. Serving on a district inclusion task force and with Friends of Different Learners, a support organization in her school district, have provided an avenue to help families navigating the unique needs of their children. She is excited about the resources GiGi's Playhouse will bring to children and young adults with Down syndrome in Metro Detroit. Jocelyn works in marketing and stepped in to support the marketing needs in launching a GiGi's in Detroit.
Proud life-time Michigander and Mom to one awesome young man who keeps me busy with his shenanigans, dancing, horseback riding, sports, photography and all things SpongeBob! He is the light of my life and driving force behind all I do! When we aren't looking for something fun to do like exploring our awesome state and taking pictures in downtown Detroit, I am a passionate advocate and activist for Down syndrome, women's, kids and equality issues. National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Ambassador. Small business owner and background in nonprofit support and leadership. Current County Captain for a gubernatorial candidate, and current Deputy Campaign Manager for area state representative candidate.
Kaitlyn lives in Shelby Township with her husband Anthony. She recently graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. While attending college Kaitlyn supported herself nannying, which is where her love for children developed. In her free time Kaitlyn enjoys playing golf with her husband, creating DIY home decor items, and browsing the aisles of Target. Kaitlyn is excited to be a part of how GiGi’s Playhouse impacts the lives of individuals with Down syndrome.
Allie recently moved back to Troy after attending Grand Valley State University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Since moving home, she has started working for United Shore, as a Business Innovation Specialist. She is excited to meet so many new volunteers, who are as excited about what GiGi’s Playhouse provides as she is!
I grew up in Michigan and graduated from Michigan State with a BA in Special Education. I moved to Atlanta, GA straight after college and taught special education for 6 years. I became a stay at home mom after the birth of our 1st daughter and we moved to Chicago to be closer to family. In preparation of the birth of our 2nd daughter, we moved to Royal Oak to be even closer to family.
I have a very strong passion for GiGi’s Playhouse. I have a brother who is 25 years old with Down syndrome; my husband has an uncle with Down syndrome and we’ve spent many years coaching Special Olympics. I discovered GiGi’s in Atlanta where I was a literary tutor and started their math program before I moved. After getting settled in Chicago I started volunteering at their playhouse with their tutoring program. I took a part time position there as their project coordinator. It was very hard to leave Chicago, but I am so excited to get to know the Detroit families and volunteers!