Heather Lorenzen, Executive Director
Heather joined GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo in September 2018 with years of advocacy and leadership experience. Heather believes that everyone has an ability and there are no limits to achieve success with the support of their family, education, and our community. She brings experience in working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with transition age students and adults in seeking meaningful employment within our community. Heather’s heart beats to see a world where individuals with Down syndrome are accepted and embraced in their families, schools, and our community!
Heather lives in Fargo, North Dakota with her husband Jordan and daughter Mia.
Lexi Athman, Site Coordinator
Lexi learned about GiGi's Playhouse prior to moving to the Fargo area. As soon as she learned about GiGi's Playhouse, Lexi knew she needed to be involved with the organization. Lexi began as a volunteer with the LMNOP program and quickly fell even more in love with the Playhouse, its mission, and the families. Throughout her years as an elementary teacher, Lexi developed a passion for instilling independence and a "can-do" attitude in all children and supporting parents. She is excited to bring her experience to GiGi's Playhouse to help the Playhouse spread the message of global acceptance for all.
Lexi recently moved to the south Fargo area and is excited to get to know the area and get involved in the community.
Courtney Savageau, Program Coordinator
Courtney joined GiGi’s in 2023 as a volunteer and program leader for LMNOP and she is very excited to join the team as the Program Coordinator. Courtney has a younger brother with Down syndrome and has experience working as a Paraprofessional. She graduated from Benedictine College in 2017 with degrees in Mass Communication and Theatre Arts. Courtney believes strongly in advocating for those with Down syndrome and feels passionately about all the wonderful things that GiGi’s Playhouse is doing for our community. She is excited to work in a place where we can begin to make the world a better, more inclusive and accepting place. As the Program Coordinator, Courtney will be supporting and overseeing the programs and volunteers.
Courtney lives in Fargo with her husband Patrick and their daughters Nicolette and Lucy.
GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo Board of Managers
Andrea Hensrud, President
Andrea first heard about GiGi’s when the Center opened in the Red River Valley. Growing up with an older brother who has Down syndrome, she was immediately hooked on the purposeful programs offered and was the program lead for “Little Finders, Big Plans.” As an occupational therapist in the community, and as a sibling of a current participant, Andrea wanted to get involved in an active role. Because of her personal and professional background, she values the importance of promoting education to our families about the importance of development through the lifespan, and the importance of the development within a family.
Andrea is also a health and life coach. She loves to empower those around her to be their best selves, including the best of all moments at GiGi's. She lives outside of Fargo with her husband Mark, their two children and her dog, Kona. She loves cooking, being active and the outdoors!
Trisha Stibbe, Treasurer
Trisha has been learning, growing, and advocating for special needs since 2010 - when she gave birth to twin boys at 28 weeks. They thrust her into the world of special needs parenting, and she credits them with her growth as a mother and human. When her daughter, Claire, was born with Down syndrome in 2015 she was devastated. That devastation quickly evaporated, and Trisha assumed her role of a “Special Needs Mom x2” with joy and pride. There is magic in that extra chromosome, and it has been an absolute privilege watching Claire learn and grow with the help of GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo.
Trisha and her husband Adam have 4 children. She is a stay-at-home-mom and spends most of her “free time” advocating for special needs and inclusion, substitute teaching, going to various and plentiful doctor appointments, volunteering for BIO Girls, and meeting her caffeine limit by 9:00 am every day. She deals with her crazy life best with sarcasm and has found a creative outlet through her blog.
Annalise Duffy, Secretary
Annalise first learned about GiGi’s in 2021, when she received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for her daughter, Lakyn. Since the diagnosis she has jumped headfirst into the world of advocacy, acceptance, and inclusion for all individuals, but especially those with Down syndrome. “Having Lakyn has provided me with this sense of peace within my life I did not know I was missing. She has given me the purpose I always yearned for and for the first time in my life, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be and do, and that’s an advocate for equality and inclusion. Joining the board of managers for GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo is something that just feels right.”
Annalise works for West Fargo Public Schools as a teacher and instruction coach in the Career & Technical Education Department. She has a master’s degree in education and just completed MSUM’s educational leadership program. She is excited to use her background as an educator and experience as a mom to a child with Down syndrome to help support and strengthen all GiGi’s has to offer. Annalise lives in Fargo with her husband, Tyler, and two children, Ronyn & Lakyn. In her “free” time, she enjoys reading, taco and game nights with friends, and traveling back home to Brookings, South Dakota to see family and cheer on the Jackrabbits.
Stefanie Gefroh-Ellison, General Board
Stefanie joined GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo’s board in July 2023. As an Ob/Gyn physician in our community, she shares a passion for Women and Children’s Health. She is committed to advocacy and empowering families facing the unexpected. She currently serves as the Associate Chief Medical Officer at Essentia Health and is on their Board of Directors. Growing up in the area, she believes in growing resources to better serve our community.
Stefanie lives in West Fargo with her husband, Matt, and their twins, a son and daughter.
Kellie Hamre, General Board
Kellie has been with GiGi’s Playhouse in Fargo since the origination of the Fargo location in 2015. She has had many roles within the organization, with the most recent being a focus on board development, leadership, and fundraising by serving as the President of the Board of Managers from 2018 – 2022. She has led the Playhouse through various stages of growth, development and recovery, helping make it one of the top performing Playhouses in the network. Her passion to advocate for individuals with Down syndrome started when her family was blessed with Bryn, her daughter with Down syndrome. Kellie believes all persons, regardless of medical diagnosis, should have every opportunity available to reach their highest potential and strives to ensure that GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo makes that happen.
Kellie and her husband Brandon have three children and live in Oxbow, ND. She is employed by Smartt Interior Construction.
Laura Hofer, General Board
Laura and her family moved to Fargo in 2018 from Brookings, South Dakota. She accepted a position as a Speech-Language Pathologist in Fargo where she quickly learned about GiGi’s Playhouse. She was able to attend her first GiGi’s gala in 2019 where she continued to be inspired by the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse. Laura has practiced as a SLP for 11 years and has had the privilege of working with individuals with Down syndrome from birth to adulthood. Through her therapy background she has always strived to build connections with families and patients allowing them to achieve their goal of maximum potential. Finding resources within the community that have similar missions, such as GiGi’s Playhouse, has been valuable in reaching this goal.
Laura currently works as a Speech-Language Pathologist Manager at Pediatric Partners. She and her husband are business owners in Fargo and love hearing of ways to give back to the community. Laura lives in West Fargo with her husband, Aj, and three busy children. In her free time, you will find her enjoying time outdoors, running her kiddos to activities and trying to perfect her golf swing.
Kristin Nelsen, General Board
When Birk was born, Kristin remembered feeling like she was on this journey alone and had so many fears of the unknown. She discovered GiGi’s Playhouse online when she was looking for information about Down syndrome. She told her husband that this was her dream, to help bring GiGi’s Playhouse to our community. Kristin was the founding President for two years and continues to serve as a general board member. GiGi’s Playhouse is a place that will bring families together and find the support they need to help their child become the best that they can be!
Kristin graduated from Concordia College Moorhead with majors in Elementary Ed, Social Work, and Child Development and has her Master’s in Education. Kristin is married to Matt and has four kids, Madeline, Birk, Kane and Caroline and lives in Moorhead, MN.
Drew Sannes, Board Member
Drew has been an advocate for GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo since opening in 2015, volunteering with the Teen and Adult programs throughout her college years. Upon learning about GiGi’s Playhouse, she immediately had a soft spot in her heart for its mission, thanks to a close friendship throughout her childhood and teenage years with a classmate who has Down syndrome. Drew has a strong passion and love for those with special needs, wanting to help provide opportunities for every individual to become their best self.
Drew has been working for Light Consulting since 2020, following her time playing professional basketball in Germany. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business Administration. In whatever she is doing, Drew strives to live out her core values of authenticity, mindfulness, meaningful relationships, faith, and service.
As we continue to our increase our impact in Fargo, we need to increase our team! We would love to have you as a part of our board or committees! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about how you can get in involved!