Kellie Hamre – President
Kellie has been with GiGi’s Playhouse in Fargo since the preliminary planning, working on the facility design, coordinating new families, and outreach. Most recently she served as the Interim Site Coordinator and had the opportunity to get to know even more about the Playhouse. She is also the state liaison for the Down syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN) for North Dakota. Kellie brings passion and drive to advocate for children and adults with Down syndrome which started the moment when her family was blessed with Bryn, their daughter who is rockin’ the extra chromosome. Kellie believes all persons, regardless of medical diagnosis, should have every opportunity available to them to reach their highest potential and at GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo we can help make that happen!
Kellie lives in Oxbow, North Dakota with her husband Brandon and three children, Connor, Bryn and Isla. Kellie is employed at North Dakota State University as an educator in the field of Interior design.
Lacey Romie – Past President
Louie was first person with Down syndrome that Lacey’s family had truly met. As parents, she and her husband had a lot of questions and a genuine need for resources. GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo opened in September 2015, a few after months Louie was born. They were welcomed with open arms by many wonderful parents, family members and friends who have given them the resources paving the way. As the past-President, Lacey stands committed to GiGi’s families, friends and community members. Lacey brings her unique skill set to the team as a Financial Advisor and 13 year-military veteran. Lacey’s bottom line is to ensure that our community has the resources to teach individuals with Down syndrome ways to be successful!
Nikki Knodel – Vice President
GiGi’s provides the opportunities and resources for all individuals to reach their greatest potential. Nikki’s son Max inspires her every day. Her purpose with GiGi’s is to help Max and friends reach their fullest potential. Nikki lives in Fargo, North Dakota with her husband, Bobby and two children Max and Kate. Nikki is the Director of the Master of Athletic Training Program at North Dakota State University.
Jenni Peters – Treasurer
Jenni was impacted by GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo after attending the Gala in the spring of 2018. She knew this organization had to be a part of her life by inspiring and helping participants be successful in all aspects of their life through the educational and therapeutic programs offered. Jenni’s goal on the board of directors is to help create a strong foundation for the Fargo Playhouse as a resource for families in the Fargo-Moorhead and surrounding communities.
Jenni lives in West Fargo, North Dakota with her husband Mitch, daughter Charley and step-son Quade. Jenni is employed as Treasury Management Consultant at Great Western Bank in Fargo.
Catherine Mohr – Secretary
Katie was looking for an opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community! Katie started volunteering with GiGi’s Playhouse Walk & Fest and she decided she needed a more impactful role within the Playhouse. Katie has joined several committees and is a general board member. She is excited to get to know the families and set a good example for her daughter by helping create a better community.
Katie lives in Dilworth, Minnesota with her Fiancée Adam and daughter Lanie. Katie is currently employed as an Administrative Specialist at Nardini Fire Equipment.
Kristin Nelsen - General Board & Literacy Coordinator
When Birk was born, Kristin remembered feeling like she was on this journey alone and had so many fears of the unknown. She found 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 is married to Matt and has four kids, Madeline, Birk, Kane and Caroline.
Kristin graduated from Concordia College Moorhead with majors in Elementary Ed, Social Work, and Child Development and has her Master’s in Education.
Bryan McClean – General Board/Facilities
Bryan’s draw to GiGi’s Playhouse is through a personal connection, Emily, his wife’s cousin's daughter. Emily provides a ray of light and is willing to challenge the ever-changing world today. Bryan participated in GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo’s grand opening celebration. He joined the Board in May 2018 as the facilities and general board member, wanting to be part of the infectious passion and vision that the Fargo Playhouse brings to our community. Bryan owns a local insurance agency in the Fargo-Moorhead community, is an active Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and past chair. He is married to his wife Nikki and they have four daughters, Madisyn, Kaylie, Paisley and Piper.
Heather Krump– New Family Coordinator
Our journey started with Beautiful Briar at a 20-week prenatal visit when a heart defect was found on an ultrasound. Her family was told then that there was a chance she would have Down syndrome. Heather and her husband had questions and fears not knowing anything about Down syndrome. GiGi’s Playhouse is a place that brings families together for love, support, friendships and growth. Briar, who is now three has taught Heather and her family so much about life. She is truly amazing and makes life more beautiful. Heather is excited to welcome new families and let them know they are not alone on their journey as they are now a part of a large, deeply caring and warm welcoming community and family! Heather lives in West Fargo, North Dakota with her husband, Jon and two girls Remi and Briar.
Heather Lorenzen – Site Manager
Heather met several families through Up with Downs when piloting Introduction to Special Olympics for 3-10-year old’s in Fargo. Over the last three years she has watched a great achievement center for Down syndrome evolve. 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. Heather joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Fargo team as the Site Manager in September 2018. 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! She is very excited to share this mission and vision with you and cannot wait to share your stories! Heather lives in Fargo, North Dakota with her husband Jordan.
Mary Duggan – Program Coordinator
Mary has many years of experience in working with children and has learned that every child is unique and has unlimited potential. Mary’s greatest pleasure is to see a child succeed. Her passion for success led her to GiGi’s Playhouse where she believes every child is full of endless possibilities which is why she chose to Educate, Inspire and Believe! Mary works at NDSU’s Center for Child Development where she teaches children ages 6 months through 5 years. It was at the Center for Child Development where she met two current GiGi’s families that changed her world and inspired her to join the team as the Program Coordinator in May 2018. Mary is married to her husband Dan and has two adult children, Elliot and Maggie.
Ilene Cohen-Pearson– Volunteer Coordinator
Ilene started as a literacy tutor at GiGi’s Playhouse in Fargo. Over the years she has helped with events and other community fundraisers. Ilene’s passion and enthusiasm are to keep recruitment high and help fill the needs of the Playhouse with volunteers. Ilene started as the Volunteer Coordinator in August 2018.
Ilene is married to David and has two children Hannah and Daniel. She is currently the Lead Teacher at Children’s Montessori Center in Fargo, North Dakota.
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!