Our Team


Josh Binder, Executive Director

Josh joined GiGi’s in the Fall of 2020. He brings with him 10+ years of nonprofit experience, with a focus on development, marketing, event planning and coaching. Most recently, he served as Director of Development at Community Unit School District 308 in Oswego and the Oswego Foundation for Educational Excellence. He also serves on the Special Olympic Illinois Strategic Planning Task Force committee. Binder holds a B.A. from St. Ambrose University and an M.A. from Ashford University

He and his wife Stacy are proud parents of Wesley, and Madisyn who rocks her extra chromosome every day!

“I can’t wait to do my part as a leader, advocate, teammate, and most importantly a father, to keep pushing the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse and Down syndrome awareness forward.”

Alison Flores, Site Director


Karen Owens, Community Engagement

Karen Russell Owens has worked in Special Education for over 20 years. She has volunteered for many organizations such as Turning Point, IOLS, Refuge for Woman, and Willow Creek. She volunteered for GiGi’s Playhouse for 6 years in McHenry and was their co-chair for their Spring Fashion Show for two years.  GiGi’s Playhouse captured her heart from the start.

Karen lives in Huntley with her husband Troy. She has 3 children Tyler, Nicholas, Emilee and two step daughters Callie and Chloe.

She is excited to bring her passion and energy to GiGi’s.


Michael Scott, Hugs + Mugs Store Manager

Michael graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Sport Management. He worked as a Programs manager for a sports facility and helped facilitate summer camps and an afterschool care program at this location. Michael is currently assisting at the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association with sports programs as well as coaching a Special Olympics Bocce Ball Team.  

In his free time, Michael likes to take his dog for walks, spend time with family and friends, and watch the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Cubs.