Site Coordinator - Julia Meyers
Julia was born and raised in Germany, where she received a Master's Degree in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Pedagogy. In 1997 she moved to the United States where she received a Ph.D. in Archaeology from the University of Arizona. She has lived with her family in Wisconsin since 2006, where she found a new home away from home. After being a stay-at-home mother for her two children for many years, Julia worked part time at the Oregon School district as Special Education Sub. She then accepted a part time position as Director for Youth and Family at Unity of Madison, where she worked for six years. Julia is also a published author. She is excited about her new role as Site Coordinator at Gigi's Playhouse in Madison and feels honored to be part of this wonderful organization.
Patrick Ryan - Board President
Patrick is a native of Madison and now lives in Westport with his wife Alison, son Jaxson (13), and daughters Tatyana (10), and Grace (7). He graduated from UW-LaCrosse and earned an M.S. Ed. from Northern Illinois. He spent five years as a clinical exercise physiologist in the southeastern part of the U.S. and has been a second generation co-owner of Ryan Brothers Ambulance since 1997.
Patrick and Alison adopted Jaxson from the Ukraine when he was 2 1/2 and were surprisingly blessed with Tatyana eight months later. They were then blessed with a precious gift when Gracie (with Down syndrome) arrived three years later.
Patrick joined the GiGi's Playhouse Board in December of 2014 and is proud to be able to help bring such a valuable and life changing facility to Madison.
Alison Ryan - Secretary
Alison has bachelors degrees in business and psychology, along with an MBA. Prior to having kids she worked on creating and maintaining marketing databases.
She and her husband Patrick adopted their first child 11 years ago. He spent his first two years in an orphanage so she decided to be a stay at home Mom since she had already missed those years of his young life. Alison said that the reason she is part of GiGi's is because her third child Grace has Down syndrome.
Tom Marten - Treasurer
Tom has been the Chief Financial Officer for Compliant Pharmacy Alliance Cooperative in Stoughton since 2013. Previous to that role, he held several financial and executive management positions for Parts Now in Middleton over a 20 year period. He earned his undergraduate degree in Accounting from UW-Whitewater and an MBA from UW-Madison. Tom is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Tom and his wife Michelle live in Verona with their three children (Nick, Maddie, and AJ). AJ has Down syndrome and is the reason Tom decided to get involved with GiGi’s. He is excited to help open GiGi’s in Madison and the opportunities it will bring to his son and other families in the community.
Zane Torgrude - Board Member
Zane has been in the Financial Services industry for over 30 years as a trainer, Regional V.P. and now a Financial Advisor. He currently has been an advisor with BMO Harris Financial Advisors for the past 11 years and will retire March 31, 2016. Prior to the Financial Services industry, Zane served for 11 years as a Lutheran pastor and in the human services industry as a speaker, counselor, manager, and fund raiser.
Zane earned his B.A. from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1966 and obtained a Masters in Theology from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1970. Zane also achieved his Chartered Financial Consult (ChFC) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations from the American College in Bryn Mare, Pennsylvania in 1988.
Zane is married to Susan and is the proud parent of two daughters and has five grandchildren. His grandson, Noah, was born with Down syndrome. It is because of Noah that Zane is now honored to be involved in bringing a GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center to Madison.
Suzan Cook - Board Member
Suzan has more than 30 years experience in the areas of marketing, communications, fund-raising, organizational development and training for both profit and non-profit organizations. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts – Radio, Television, Film from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University.
Suzan’s younger brother, Jeffy, had Down syndrome. He passed away when he was 35. Jeff was the light of her life and is working with GiGi’s Playhouse as a tribute to him. She wishes that there had been a GiGi’s when he was alive - he would have loved it.
Jeffrey Peterson - Board Member
Jeff Peterson is an intellectual property attorney and partner at the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich. Jeff assists clients in protecting intellectual property assets, including patents ,trademarks and copyrights, as well as strategic counsel on all aspects of intellectual property licensing. Jeff serves as lead licensing counsel for a diverse group of companies from large biotech concerns and new technology start-ups to software, agribusiness and midsize manufacturing companies.
Jeff is a Madison native, and continues to live in Madison with his wife Andrea, and two children William and Katie. Jeff is deeply involved in the community. He has served on the board for Encore Studio for the Performing Arts in Madison since 2007. Encore Studio is the only professional theatre company for people with disabilities in the state of Wisconsin, and one of the very few in the United States. Jeff is also active in parish leadership for St. Maria Goretti Catholic Parish and School in Madison. Jeff joined the GiGi's Playhouse board in 2015 to assist the formation and growth of this outstanding asset to the Madison community.
Susan Torgrude - Board Member
Susan is retired and lives in Madison with her husband Zane. Their grandson Noah, age nine, was born with Down syndrome and later diagnosed with Autism. Although Noah lives in Appleton, the Madison Playhouse will provide wonderful opportunities for weekend visits and meeting new friends.
Susan’s work experience spans two careers. After earning a degree in Music Education at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, she taught elementary vocal music and also private piano lessons for students in grades K-12. Motivated by care-giving for her mother and grandmother, Susan earned a Master of Science in Interior Environments at the UW-Madison. Her research specialty was living environments for people with dementia. Professional responsibilities during her fifteen years at Boelter Design Group included evaluation and planning of senior living and health-care facilities with an emphasis in wayfinding, a key criterion for people experiencing cognitive changes.
Her passion for working to bring a GiGi’s Playhouse to Madison stems from many influences, and most certainly includes the positive impact that GiGi and the Gianni Family have had on changing how the world looks at persons with Down syndrome!
Amy Ulrich - Board Member
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. She currently serves as development director for The Center for Trauma & Resilience in Denver, Colorado, and is a former grant writer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. She works full-time as an executive assistant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in Madison.
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.
Micki Hill has worked for the State of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin as a nurse caring individuals with special health care needs since 1998. She currently works as a nurse leader and administrator to improve services and policies to help children and families with special needs, especially those with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. She is a two-time award recipient of the UW Health Children's Matter Award and recently received an award for excellence in nursing service for care of the developmentally disabled from the State of Wisconsin.
Micki is an NCAA Division 1 Golf scholarship recipient, and played two sports throughout her student athlete career, which includes both golf and basketball. Micki received an Associates Degree in Nursing from Midway College, with an emphasis in early and elementary education and a Bachelors Degree in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin Madison, with an emphasis in school nursing and care of the complex patient and family. Micki is a Helen Denne Schulte Nursing Scholar from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and has been committed to ongoing education and teaching opportunities through UW School of Nursing and Emergency Medical Services for over 10 years.
Jordon is a native of Madison and now lives in McFarland with his wife Stacy and kids Sydney, Taylor, and Evelyn. He completed his undergraduate work at Colorado State University before moving back to Madison and going on to receive his MBA at Edgewood College. Jordon has been in the Financial Services industry for 14 years specializing in asset transfers for individuals and families.
Jordon joined GiGI’s Playhouse board in 2017 to help develop community awareness and drive growth of this outstanding organization.
In his free time Jordon loves to spend time outdoors with his family, enjoying all that Madison has to offer.
Ryan McAdams - Board Member
Ryan is a neonatologist who loves caring for newborn babies. He believes every child is valuable and deserves the best opportunities to thrive. Ryan grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and attended medical school at the Medical College Wisconsin. After completing his pediatric residency and neonatology fellowship, he worked as an Air Force neonatologist in Okinawa, Japan. From Japan, Ryan and his wife Audrey moved to Seattle, Washington, where he worked as a neonatologist for eight years at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital.Ryan has been focused on improving neonatal outcomes through research on perintallung and brain injury. He is also committed to global health work with the goal of improving neonatal outcomes for vulnerable children worldwide.
Ryan is currently the Division Chief of Neonatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He is blessed to be back in Wisconsin with his family. As a pediatrician and neonatologist, he treasures opportunities to work with many amazing children with Down syndrome. Ryan is honored to be a board member of Gigi’s Playhouse and is looking forward to helping families in thegreater Madison community.
Bill Henry - Board Member
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.
Katie Glass - Board Member
Katie Glass is the Director of the Child Life Masters Program at Edgewood College and a faculty member within the college. She is Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and has practiced clinically both at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth in Lebanon, New Hampshire and the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, WI. She received her Bachelors degree In Child Life, and her Masters and Doctorate in Education which a focus in higher education and leadership.
Katie lives in Waunakee with her husband Michael and daughter Charley. She loves to travel and cheer on the Badgers!
Katie joined GiGi’s Playhouse board in 2017 and is excited to be apart of the GiGis community!
Andrea Leverton - Board Member
Andrea holds a Bachelor’s degree from UW-Platteville and has over 20 years of experience focused in operations, project management, and customer service across manufacturing, software, insurance, and healthcare. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering, golfing, cooking, and travelling.