Nancy Gianni: Founder and Chief Belief Officer
Nancy Gianni is the Chief Belief Officer and founder of GiGi's Playhouse, as well as a published author and public speaker. Nancy serves as the visionary leader behind GiGi's Playhouse's launch and dramatic growth; and perhaps in her most important role, being GiGi's mom. Nancy is also the loving the mother of Franco, Romy and Bella.
GiGi's birth ignited an unstoppable force of miracles, hope, and unconditional love that is now changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every day. What began as a mother's vision to change perceptions, and to maximize her daughter's success, has evolved into a global movement of acceptance for ALL! Nancy joined the Executive Board in 2010.
Bret Bowerman, Board President
Bret Bowerman is co-founder and Partner of Harbour Point Capital, a private investment firm focused on backing innovative healthcare services companies. His current and prior board oversight responsibilities include: Agiliti Health, Insight Telepsych, Aligned Modern Health, National Surgical Healthcare, Oak Street Health and Jenny Craig. Bret has an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics from Washington and Lee University. Bret lives in Larchmont, NY with his wife and four children, one of whom is thriving with an extra chromosome. He joined the Executive Board of GiGi’s Playhouse in 2017. In addition, his disability advocacy efforts have included a Board Director role at the National Down Syndrome Congress (former), Trustee of the NDSC Foundation (current), and various speaking engagements and published articles related to inclusionary practices.
Tim Boundy, Board Vice President
Tim is the Director of Global Strategic Accounts for PMC Group, a private chemical company focused in the polymer industry. He is also the Founder/President of F3 Cycling, a cycling component company. Tim is the founder of a Chicago-based cycling team and is a lifelong athlete. Tim holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a business focus from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. Tim joined the Executive Board of GiGi’s Playhouse in late 2017. Tim and his wife Kim started volunteering at GiGi’s in 2014. Tim and Kim live in Deer Park, IL and have 2 daughters – Alex, a junior at the University of Kentucky, and Olivia a senior at Barrington High School. After volunteering and as long-time friend of the Gianni family, Tim recognized GiGi’s Playhouse is a critically important organization in the world of Down syndrome and the charity's goal of changing the way people view it was inspiring to him. Tim has no personal connection to Down syndrome, however, feels that GiGi’s Playhouse is changing things in a very positive way and wanted help.
Troy Cowdrey, Board Treasurer
Troy Cowdrey is a Real Estate Owner/Operator of multiple rental properties. Troy previously was an Independent Foreign Currency Trader at CME. He was also previously a Board of Director member at Biltmore CC. Troy attended the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and received his BBA with an Accounting Major. Troy joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Executive Board in 2012. Troy is a longtime family friend of the Gianni Family.
Adam Earl, Board Secretary
Adam Earl is currently a Vice President of Client Services for NCA (National Care Advisors). Adam started his career in healthcare information technology and operations consulting. Prior to joining NCA, he was a Principal at Cumberland Consulting Group working with several nationally recognized health systems to implement and optimize IT and operational systems. Adam attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where he earned his Bachelor of Arts. He then earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Adam joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Executive Board in 2019. Adam’s family owns NCA, a nurse case management and consulting firm which focuses on serving individuals with special needs. Since joining the family business, he has dedicated his career to ensuring his clients and their families maximize care and quality of life.
Paul Gianni, President Emeritus
Paul Gianni is the co-founder of GiGi’s Playhouse. Paul is currently the President of GNN Solutions, Inc., a commercial construction company. Paul previously worked as an independent futures trader and broker at CME Group. Paul is a member of the Knights of Columbus. Paul attended DePaul University and received a bachelor's degree in liberal arts. Paul was the former GiGi’s Playhouse executive board president for 5 years and has been a member since the board’s inception. Paul is the loving husband of Chief Belief Officer Nancy Gianni and a dedicated father to Franco, Romy, Bella, and “The GiGi.”
Farzin Sharyari is a graduate of the first GiGiU class in 2017. He currently is working as a GiGi Professional and at Ortho Arch Company. Farzin is mastering his office skills while consistently setting new goals! While born with an extra chromosome, Farzin does not let any obstacles hold him back from achieving his dreams. Farzin has a passion and true gift for writing his own books and songs and is looking forward to recording in a studio in the near future. Farzin lives in Hoffman Estates with his family. He is truly a valuable asset to the Executive Board.
Michael Wohlwend is currently a Managing Principal for Alpine Supply Chain Solutions. Previously he worked at SAP, a software company. Michael is currently on the Executive Board for WERC (Warehouse Educational and Research Counsel). Michael has a bachelor's degree in Logistics. Michael joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Executive Board in 2012. Michael has no personal connection with Down syndrome, but his goal is to help the adults who graduated GiGi University get jobs and be successful in life.
Brian Langan is the Vice President of Reliability and Quality at Wabtec, a global provider of equipment, systems and digital solutions for the freight and rail industry. Prior to joining Wabtec, Brian was the Executive Director of Operations at GE Aviation, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial and military jet engines. Brian earned a BS from Western Michigan University and a MBA from Xavier University. Brian’s youngest son, Liam, was born with Down syndrome in 2012 and the family began utilizing the services at GiGi’s once they moved to Naperville in 2014. Brian joined the Executive Board in 2021 to take a bigger role as a champion for change and acceptance.
Steve Baker is National Vice President of Customer Experience for SAP America, Inc., an enterprise cloud software company helping global clients transform their businesses with digital technology. Steve has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has spent his entire career within the high-tech and software industries.
Steve has been volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse since 2010 as a member of the IT executive committee helping GiGi’s leverage technology to grow from 10 playhouses to nearly 60 playhouses. In 2023, Steve joined the GiGi’s Executive Board expanding his passion for disability advocacy with the objective to better help connect corporate America with the GiGi’s community. Steve and his wife Claire live in Palatine, IL, and have three adult children and two grandchildren. Though Steve has no personal connection with Down Syndrome, his goal is to create greater awareness and deeper engagement with local corporations to better embrace GiGi’s mission, with the hope of increasing corporate sponsorships and creating more job opportunities for GiGi’s University graduates.
Christopher R. Behrens
Chris Behrens has built a national reputation for repositioning, building, and scaling businesses profitably that are mid-market focused, privately held, and backed by private equity. He is credited with leading significant growth initiatives, both organically and through M&A transactions and integrations, across multi-site environments, and national and international business development. Chris most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Mather Group, a top 50, Barron’s ranked wealth management firm based in Chicago. In addition to financial services, he has CEO experience in digital marketing, technology, and value add business and manufacturing services industries. Chris’ board and executive experience in addition to The Mather Group includes Baird Capital Partners, SourceLink, YA Engage, Superior Recreational Products, ETrac, and Circle Urban with expertise in strategic planning, organizational design & structure, financial management, sales & marketing, operations, and ERP cloud-based technology solutions.
Leslie Wachsman is the Chief Financial Officer of SCA Health, a division of United Health Group. A leader in outpatient surgery and specialty medical care, SCA Health strategically partners with health plans, medical groups, and health systems across the country to develop and optimize specialty and surgical care. Leslie has an MBA from Lake Forest College and a BS in Finance from University of Kansas. Leslie and her husband Rich live in Barrington, IL and have three children – Cecelia, a development analyst at a large health care company, Henry, a senior and student athlete at George Mason University, and Claudia a freshman at University of Kansas. Leslie also has brother-in-law who is a thriving adult with Down syndrome. Leslie’s passion for serving others extends to her volunteer and advocacy efforts for a global healthcare non-for-profit, One World Surgery and is a current board member of the Boys and Girls Club Dundee Township.