A Journey Back to Where We Started: Meet Our Executive Director
I started my journey with the Playhouse in the Fall of 2015, but for the real story of when my journey with GiGi’s Playhouse started, you can go here. I led the Playhouse through opening in January of 2016 through the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020. With a bustling Playhouse and the hopes of expanding our family, I stepped down in June 2020 to focus on family. Expanding the family WE did, with welcoming identical twin girls in March 2021. If anyone has been blessed with twins, they will agree when I say that the first year is a blur! Life with babies and a 6-year-old bonus son, who happens to have Down syndrome, was beginning to settle in the Spring of 2022, and I use the term ‘settle’ VERY loosely.
Once I was able to get out of the blur, my passion for advocating with a proverbial megaphone and making tidal waves of change happen was ignited more than ever. I missed the meetings, I missed connecting with families, and I missed seeing life-changing impact every day. In April 2022, after lengthy conversations with multiple friends and family, I reached out to GiGi’s Playhouse Fort Wayne Board President, Doug Atkinson, and stated that I would love to come back.
In May 2022, I was back in the Executive Director role and have been able to do all the things that I was missing while still being the mother and partner I want to be. I have been able to see my girl, Sara, reach her goal of being on tv for the first time. I have seen a young participant cruise with his walker down our long hallway for the first time. I have also see our Playhouse explode with activity and new families. Most of all, I feel like I’m home. The Playhouse families are my extended family and to be back with the 355+ families is like a warm hug.
I have been blessed with seeing our participation numbers best or come very close to our pre-pandemic numbers. The Playhouse has welcomed nearly a dozen new families into the Playhouse family since this summer. Most importantly, our participants are thriving, gaining more confidence, and changing the way our community views Down syndrome. It feels so great to be back with my Playhouse family and I’m more excited than ever to watch our Playhouse reach more individuals, community members, and truly see our mission and message in action!