Our Team

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Sara Van Deurzen - Site Coordinator

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Sara lives in Milwaukee with her husband and two children. As a parent Sara has been able to support her son in gifted and talented programming and her daughter in a multitude of special education services (OT, PT, Speech, Vision, Special Education). All of them love to visit Sara's hometown of Sturgeon Bay, WI in beautiful Door County as well as spend time with family and friends. In her free time, Sara also loves knitting, baking, and painting.

Sara has Bachelor’s Degrees in Art Education and Exceptional Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Marian University. For the past 17 years, she has worked in Special Education as a Director and a teacher in the Racine, New Berlin, Milwaukee and Shorewood school districts. At the state level, she is the Vice Chair of the Inter-agency Coordinating Council (ICC) as appointed by the Governor for Birth-to-Three Services.

 

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Heather Minsky – Programs Coordinator

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Heather found her way to GiGi’s Playhouses while researching online after the birth diagnosis of her daughter Emmeline. When she arrived, she was excited to discover all the amazing programs, people and opportunities available there! Heather is thrilled to be joining the GiGi’s team and be a part of an organization that wants to change world views of a Down Syndrome diagnosis and has a message of acceptance for all.

Heather lives in Wauwatosa with her husband Jake and their two children, Emmeline and Elwood. They also have two small dogs and three chickens. Heather graduated from UW-Stout with a degree in Early Childhood Education, a certificate in Special Education and a Minor in Art. Before staying home for two years with her children, Heather was a 4K and Kindergarten teacher. Heather looks forward to meeting and collaborating with the GiGi’s volunteers and families.

Board of Directors

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Susanne Griscom Pelikan, President/Program Committee Chair

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Originally from New Jersey, Sue and her husband Jim have lived in Cedarburg for the last sixteen years. Sue has been able to stay at home with their children; John, David, Kaleigh and Jake, who has Down syndrome. They have been active in the community with soccer, volleyball, flag football and a variety of school activities. Sue and Jim also helped found the Cedarburg Destination Imagination Club and continue to manage teams as well as coordinate fourteen teams in the Cedarburg area. Sue holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Kentucky and enjoys working on the occasional landscape plan. She looks forward to expanding her involvement with GiGi’s Playhouse and getting to know all of the fabulous people and programs it offers.

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Barry Goldman, Vice President

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Barry and his wife Penny live in Bayside, WI. Here they raised their two daughters and welcome their families and grandchildren. Barry graduated from UW-Milwaukee with an accounting degree and has a private practice as a CPA in Mequon. He volunteers at the Milwaukee Sailing Center and is also on the board of Congregation Shalom and Bayside Community Development Authority. He is the Treasurer for GiGi's Playhouse Milwaukee.

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Susan Waldkirch, Social Events Committee Chair

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Susan Waldkirch lives in Cedarburg with her husband Rob. They have 4 boys, the youngest being Noah who has Down syndrome. Susan has been running a Young Athletes program for Special Olympics for 5yrs. She is also on the board for Ozaukee county Circle of friends. Susan also runs a parent advisory board and puts on a resource night for her school district. Susan was in the grass roots of building Possibility playground in Port Washington. She looks forward to what GiGi’s Playhouse Milwaukee has to offer for Noah and all the other families.

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Erin Anderson, Marketing Committee Chair, Secretary

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Erin Anderson lives in Whitefish Bay with her husband, Joel, and three children, Isabell, Rhys and Beatrix, who rocks her designer genes. For years, the entire Anderson family has loved coming to GiGi's Playhouse Milwaukee - to sing songs, learn something new, create art and hang with friends. Bea's absolute favorite event of the year is GiGi's Dance-A-Thon, where her dance card is always full and her feet barely hit the floor, thanks to some very accommodating college students. Through her service on GiGi's Playhouse Milwaukee Board of Directors, Erin hopes to give something back to the organization that has forged a loving and supportive community for her daughter and family. Erin shares her professional talents as a writer and media guru, having an extensive career as a journalist, wordsmith and content expert.

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Mike Wachter, Treasurer

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Mike and his wife Lynda live in Cedarburg with their four children.  Mike is a Principal and the Director of Fixed Income at Reinhart Partners, Inc., a Milwaukee, Wisconsin based investment advisory firm.  He earned his BBA from the University of Wisconsin, received his MBA from Marquette University and became a CFA charter holder in 1999.  Mike is the Treasurer of the Ozaukee Youth Hockey Association where he also volunteers as a youth coach.

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Ann Jasen, Donor Relations Chair

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A Wisconsin native, Ann Jasen lives in West Bend with her husband Tony, son Ryan, who has Down syndrome, and 2 adult daughters. Prior to becoming a mother, Ann worked as a chemist. She has assisted her husband, Tony, in various business endeavors including a financial services firm and a truck bed-liner business among others. Her priority is managing their household and family. She has spent many hours coaching and volunteering for the various activities everyone has been involved with over the years. GiGi’s Playhouse has been a wonderful place for Ryan to learn and grow and Ann is thrilled to be part of the team supporting GiGi’s continued service in the Down syndrome community.

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Kari Dyer, Donor Relations Committee Member 

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Kari was originally from the D.C. area. She and her husband, Cary, have two children, Lilly and Griffin and live in Mequon, WI. Griffin has Down Syndrome. Kari is a Dental Hygienist and a figure skating coach. She worked with Special Olympics in college. They are so grateful to have a GiGi's Playhouse in the area. Griffin loves participating in the literacy program and the other fun programs. It has been a wonderful place to meet new families. In their spare time, Kari and the kids love doing Taekwondo.

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Chris VandenHouten, Outreach Committee Chair

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Chris VandenHouten lives in Grafton, WI. She is married to Randy, and they have 3 children, Erica, Lauren and Chad.  Chad, the youngest, has Down syndrome.  Chris is a CPA and has past experience in public accounting, bank auditing and regulatory compliance.  She coaches/manages the Challenger special needs baseball team through Grafton Little League, and participates in the Cedarburg School District Special Needs Parent Advisory Group.  She is excited to have a GiGi's Playhouse in Milwaukee, and especially glad it offers programs for people of all ages.

Val Keiper, Dance-a-Thon Event Chair