Our Board Members
Julie Byrnes - President
Julie joined the Board of Directors in May of 2018 and has held a variety of positions including Vice President, Program Committee Chair, and Interim Executive Director. Julie is active with fundraising and was the chairperson of the 2019 “i have a Voice” Gala and the 2020 Virtual Generation G Gala.
Julie is a speech language pathologist with her own private practice and consulting business. Her specialized training includes a background in early childhood speech and language development and bilingual/dual language development. She has lived in Spain and traveled for extended periods in Belize, Mexico, and Latin America. Julie is a Madison native and grew up just up the street from GiGi’s Playhouse. She is married and has two young children.
As President, Julie looks forward to serving families and collaborating with our community to advance the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse.
Kimberly Arndt - Vice President
Kimberly Arndt is a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician who works for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services at Central Wisconsin Center. Kimberly received her undergraduate degrees from UW-Madison, attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and completed her residency at UW Hospital and Clinics.
Kimberly worked as a clinical assistant professor in the UW Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation for 10 years. She then transitioned to Central Wisconsin Center to pursue her personal and professional goals of caring for individuals with significant developmental disabilities.
Kimberly and her husband, Brian, have 3 beautiful daughters. One of their daughters, Alexa, has Down syndrome. Kimberly joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Board of Directors to provide perspective as a parent of a child with Down syndrome and to help advocate for inclusion and opportunities for people with disabilities. Their family is so thankful that GiGi’s Playhouse has a presence in Madison to support the Down syndrome community!
Keith Lehnherr - Treasurer
Keith Lehnherr has been in the Madison Area since 2001. He lives in Oregon WI with his wife Amber and their two sons Oliver and Simon. He is the Director of Investor Relations for SARA Investment Real Estate. He spent the first ten years of his professional career in Wealth Management Industry creating and implementing financial plans for clients. Keith holds a Bachelors’ degree in consumer science and emphasis in personal finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When he is not working, he enjoys a round of golf and being outside whenever he can.
Amy Ulrich – Secretary, Grant Writer
Amy lived in Denver, Colorado for 20 years where she raised a family and developed a fulfilling career in nonprofit management. Upon the passing of her parents, Amy moved back to her hometown of Madison in order to assume guardianship for her adult brother, Christopher, who has Down syndrome. As a sibling of an older adult with Down Syndrome, Amy brings a unique perspective to the GiGi's Playhouse board of directors.
Amy received her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a masters degree in Nonprofit Management from Regis University in Denver. For twenty years, she served as development director for a nonprofit in Denver, Colorado. She currently works full-time for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Office of Crime Victim Services.
Amy and her husband Steve relish the time they spend with Chris, and do everything they can to make his life in Madison fulfilling and inclusive. The addition of GiGi's Playhouse-Madison has provided a new venue for Chris and family to meet new friends and participate in a variety of fun and educational activities. Amy and Steve have a daughter, Alexis, who is married and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Zane Torgrude - Founding Board President Emeritus
Zane is married to Susan, and is the proud parent of two daughters, and has five grandchildren. One of his grandsons, Noah, was born with Down syndrome. It is because of Noah that Zane, serving as Board President, led a group that was instrumental in bringing GiGi’s Playhouse to Madison (opening in May of 2016). Zane is an inspired and fierce advocate of individuals with Down syndrome, actively promoting awareness and acceptance for all, and fundraising in order to provide services, free of charge, to families and individuals with Down syndrome.
Prior to his many years of service with GiGi’s Playhouse, Zane was in the Financial Services industry for over 30 years as a trainer, Regional Vice President, and a Financial Advisor. He retired from BMO Harris in 2016. Zane also served for 11 years as a Lutheran pastor and in the human services industry as a speaker, counselor, manager, and fundraiser.
Bill Henry - Board Member, Past Board President
Bill grew up in Vermont and has lived in the Madison area for 30 years. He has over 25 years of experience in managing sales and marketing activities in IT organizations in Wisconsin. Bill lives in DeForest with his wife of 25 years, Laurie. Together they have two daughters, Emily and Kaitlyn, and granddaughter, Harper.
Bill joined the GiGi’s Playhouse Board in May of 2017 and brings his extensive network and marketing experience to the organization and looks forward to supporting Playhouse in the coming years.
Brian Fisher - Board Member
Brian Fisher, Market President, joined Starion Bank in April 2015 as part of the acquisition of WPS Community Bank where he served as SVP & Chief Lending Officer. Brian has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of commercial banking and credit administration. Brian currently serves as Market President in Madison, WI and is responsible for providing overall leadership and business development efforts in the region.
Brian is dedicated to the community bank model of making local decisions, investing in the community, and doing what is right for the client. Brian has been and continues to be an active community volunteer. Past and present organizations that he donates time and resources to include East Madison Monona Optimists, WRC Sports Complex, Central Cross Country Ski Association, Salvation Army, Easter Seals, United Way, as well as Little League and other youth athletic organizations. He holds a BBA in Finance from Western Michigan University and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Tom Purnell - Board Member
Tom Purnell is a professor of English Language and Linguistics in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a Bachelor's degree in English from the California State University, Los Angeles, a Master's degree in English from George Mason University, and a Doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Delaware. Tom has been at UW-Madison for over 20 years.
Tom and his wife, Sherri, have three children. Their oldest son, Thomas, has Down Syndrome. He is transitioning from high school to work environments and is active with the teen and adult programming at Gigi's. Since Thomas' birth, Tom and Sherri have been active in advocating for children with disabilities in the Madison area.
Chris England - Board Member
Chris England is a Madison native and has lived in Dane County for most of his life. He attended Madison College before starting a career in Information Technology, specializing in desktop and application support. He believes in the mission that GiGis’s Playhouse represents and hopes to continue using his skillset to advocate and support the Down syndrome community.
Chris currently lives in DeForest, WI with his wife Kris and his son Ollie, who has Down syndrome. Ollie has participated in programs at GiGi’s since it opened and considers it one of his favorite places to visit.
Chris enjoys hiking in many of Wisconsin’s great parks and wilderness areas with his family, and loves sitting around a campfire whenever he can.
Jessica Abegglen - Board Member
Jessica Abegglen is the owner of Abegglen Counseling in Fitchburg, WI and holds numerous licenses including Professional Counseling, School Counseling, and as a Special Education Teacher. She has worked with individuals with unique needs, and their caregivers, for over 20 years across numerous environments including in home services, school based services, and now through Abegglen Counseling. She started Abegglen Counseling with the goal of addressing the mental health needs of those with disabilities and their families, and has been working with that population ever since. It is through this work that she was first connected with GiGi's Playhouse and fell in love with their commitment to, and advocacy for, those with Down Syndrome and their caregivers.
Jessica, a UW alumni, lives in Fitchburg with her husband, her three kids and numerous pets! She enjoys biking, running, and traveling with her family. She looks forward to supporting GiGi's mission and to continue the work of advocacy and support for those with Downs Syndrome and their caregivers.
Brett Bauch - Board Member
Brett grew up watching his sister deal with many of the transition issues faced by those now benefitting from GiGi’s programming, but at a time when organizations such as GiGi’s were few and far between. The organization is a gift and he is happy to be a small part of it. Brett has over 20 years of experience in the investment and insurance industries and runs a fee based financial planning practice with a focus on special needs planning.
Brett has volunteered with various non-profits in the past, most recently finishing a six year term on the board of Wispact (formerly Wisconsin Pooled and Community Trusts) with two years served as chair. He lives in the Madison area with his wife Katie, sons Sam and Jake, Annie the cat, and Lucy the guinea pig.