Hometown: Sturgeon Bay, WI
Current location: Bayside, WI
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? The variety of programs and supports for participants and families.
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee? Grant Park, we love walking the trails
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? My daughter has an intellectual disability, and she was welcomed with open arms when GiGi’s opened in 2015. Since then both she and my son have flourished thanks to the guided instruction integrated in the programs offered at the Playhouse. I became involved after years of being a special education director/teacher. I LOVE the atmosphere and mission of GiGi’s.
Hobbies? Knitting, painting, home design, being outside
Favorite comfort food? Pot pie, ask for my favorite recipe!
Favorite drink? Old Fashioned
What about you would surprise people? My first degree was in Art Education
Hometown? Milwaukee, WI
Current location: Milwaukee, WI
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? The interaction between families, especially new parents and caregivers to the Playhouse, is so valuable and essential. When I first started to explore GiGi’s with my infant son back in 2016, I never imagined how changed our family would be by our time spent at GiGi’s and by the friends that we made there.
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee? Leon’s Frozen Custard!
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? We started visiting back in 2016, nearly one year to the day that GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee opened its doors.
Hobbies? I’m into all things crafty, love a good comedy movie, and I’m a bit of a Jill-of-all-trades (master of some). I love learning how things work and new life-hacks, and I play a decent game of cribbage.
Favorite comfort food? Mashed potatoes and gravy
Favorite drink? Iced coffee
What about you would surprise people? I love trying foods I’ve never tried before. The weirder the better!
Board of Directors
Hometown: I am originally from New Jersey but have lived in 8 different states.
Current location: Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? Our welcoming atmosphere and FREE programs.
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee? The lakeshore followed by a beer garden.
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? Jake is the youngest of my four children and was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. I joined GiGi’s board in 2017 so I could give back to the community and expand Jake’s involvement with his Ds peers.
Hobbies? I enjoy reading and hanging out with friends. I also spend a lot of time hauling my children around to various sporting events. When given the time, I love to play in my yard.
Favorite comfort food? I adore fried shrimp and seafood of all kinds.
Favorite drink? Sadly, I am addicted to Diet Coke.
What about you would surprise people? I am a licensed Landscape Architect with a BSLA from University of Kentucky.
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Current location: Bayside and Mequon, WI
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? Seeing the participants really enjoy themselves
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee? The Harley-Davidson Museum and the Lakefront
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? Volunteered by my wife. It was the best thing ever!
Hobbies? Grandkids, golf, home projects
Favorite comfort food? Pizza, no, coffee cakes
Favorite drink? Anything with vodka
What about you would surprise people? I’m kinda a neat freak
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Current location: Cedarburg, WI
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? The people
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee? Summerfest
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? I was involved in Special Olympics before my children were born. As they are now older, I was excited to reengage with the Down syndrome community.
Favorite comfort food?Brats
Favorite drink?Diet Coke
What about you would surprise people?Absolutely nothing.
Current location: Whitefish Bay
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? GiGi’s is our home away from home. Our entire family gets something out of a visit to the Playhouse. Our youngest, Beatrix (who has designer genes), takes part in programming specially made to help her learn, grow, and live her best life. Her big brother and sister have fun, learn and make friends, too. And, as parents, we get to connect with families on a similar journey to share notes and find community.
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee? We’re festival people! We love all types of live music (so Bea can dance), ethnic foods and people watching. Some of our favorites are Bastille Days, Irish Fest and Festa Italiana.
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? An open house for GiGi’s when the Playhouse was just in the planning stages was the first time we met people in the Down syndrome community. Bea was just a few months old, so she has grown up with GiGi’s. I wanted to give back to the organization that’s been so wonderful for our daughter, so I became a board member. It’s been fulfilling and rewarding work to be a part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee!
Favorite comfort food? Stuffed peppers – our family recipe!
Favorite drink? Wine (what mom would be without it?)
Current location: West Bend, WI
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? GiGi’s Playhouse has been a wonderful place for Ryan to learn and grow. Ann and her husband Tony, have a son, Ryan, who has Down syndrome, and 2 adult daughters.
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee?
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? Ann is thrilled to be part of the team supporting GiGi’s continued service in the Down syndrome community.
Hobbies? Coaching and volunteering for the various activities everyone has been involved with over the years.
What about you would surprise people? Prior to becoming a mother, Ann worked as a chemist.
Hometown: Kenosha, WI
Current location: Kenosha, WI
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? Getting to see my daughter Caroline make new friends and making lots of new friends myself!
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? After bringing my daughter to programs at GiGi’s and seeing the amazing progress she was making and the connections we were making, I wanted to give back and help GiGi’s continue to support the community.
Hobbies? I love doing a variety of crafts and playing games with friends
Favorite comfort food? Pizza
Favorite drink? Iced coffee
What about you would surprise people? I used to play the trumpet in elementary and middle school
Hometown: Crandon, Wisconsin
Current location: Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Best part of GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? The best part of GiGi’s is the connections you can make with other families. My family has met so many new friends in the Down syndrome community through events and activities. Having people in your circle who get it is so important for families with new diagnoses and families who are further in their journey. Having a place where those connections are natural and encouraged is invaluable.
Favorite place to take a visitor in Milwaukee? It’s so difficult to choose! Milwaukee really does have something for everyone. I love to take visitors to the Milwaukee County Zoo, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. The theater district is also so much fun with the Pabst Theater, Riverside Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and the Bradley Symphony Center. Not to mention sports teams and summer festivals! You can be busy literally every weekend!
How/Why did you get involved in GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee? I learned about the GiGi’s Playhouse organization when my daughter who has Down syndrome was just a baby. I was reviewing books for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from time to time, and I had interviewed an author who had just written a book about her son who was born with Down Syndrome. The author spoke about how she had become involved in GiGi’s Playhouse in New York City. When the interview and book review came out, one of the GiGi’s board members contacted me and told me that a GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee was in the works. And when it opened, I had to check it out. I’ve been bringing my children to events, my daughter has taken tutoring, and I have generally kept up with GiGi’s ever since.
Hobbies? Reading! Books are a big part of our home. My favorite genres are literary fiction, thrillers, mysteries, romance, and literary nonfiction. I have also developed a deep appreciation for young adult literature. Both of my children – 10-year-old girl with Ds and 13-year-old boy – still read books with me every night. I also love going to the theater – I’ve been a Milwaukee Repertory Theater subscriber for many years now.
Favorite comfort food? French food. The more butter the better. One of my favorite restaurants is Lake Park Bistro.
Favorite drink? I like to tell people I’m a hummingbird. It’s terrible for me, but I love a Coke every now and again.
What about you would surprise people? I owned two horses from ages 12-22 (not at the same time). In high school, my horse was boarded at a stable in northern Wisconsin that trained thoroughbreds for Sportsman’s Park and Arlington in Chicago. To help pay for the board, I would feed and water the horses in the evenings, and then in the summers, I would muck stalls and help to exercise the thoroughbreds. I never rode them (I didn’t have a death wish), but I did ride the calm quarter horse and led the thoroughbreds alongside on the stable’s racetrack. I still miss riding.
Additional Board Members are desired to support the Milwaukee Playhouse in the following areas:
- Event planning
- Grant writing
- Board Development
- Family engagement
- Facilities & expansion!