Board of Managers

Valerie Bayham, Member

Once the nation's foremost legal expert on African hair braiding laws and restrictions on casket sales, Valerie Bayham is a former constitutional litigator for the Institute for Justice (IJ). During her years at IJ, she fought for free speech, private property rights, and economic liberty and had the honor of working on four U.S. Supreme Court cases. She eventually traded in her superhero tights for mom jeans.

Valerie is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Agnes Scott College, where she graduated with honors with dual degrees in History and Biology.

Valerie has served on the Agnes Scott College Alumnae Board; as chair of the Agnes Scott Alumnae Chapter for DC / Northern Virginia / Maryland Areas; and on the board of the Hudson Preschool Parents association. Since moving to Nashville, she has served as Vice President of Activities for the Brentwood Moms Group; volunteered on several committees for the Crockett Elementary PTA; and created Play and Pray, a playgroup for babies and toddlers at her church.

Valerie currently lives in Brentwood with her husband, Chris, and two kids, Gabe and Ella (who happens to rock an extra chromosome). When not attached at the hip to her two children, she enjoys attending the theater, cheering for the Predators, and prepping for book club.

Daniel Cage, Immediate Past President

Daniel Cage is a Financial Services Professional for Capital Financial Group in Brentwood, TN and offers insurance and financial services. Dan is very active within the special needs’ community, so he can help provide his clients with resources available in the area.

Dan is a Brentwood native and graduated from Samford University in 2012 with a degree in Education and Sports Administration.

While working with families that have a child or an adult with Down Syndrome, Dan was introduced to GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville in 2014 and joined the board the same year. Dan saw the financial sacrifice families make to ensure their child receives the best therapy and tutoring and knew GiGi’s would provide relief for families. Dan serves on the Golf Committee and serves as a mentor for the Young Professionals Board.

Currently, Dan lives in Brentwood with his wife Allison and their daughter Camdyn (2016) and son Callahan (2022). His family attends the Village Church in Nolensville where he serves within their special needs’ ministry.

Chet Danto, Treasurer

Chet Danto is a Senior Analyst with Lattimore, Black, Morgan, & Cain’s (LBMC) Transaction Advisory Services group. Prior to his time working in mergers and acquisitions, Chet provided technical accounting services to companies in numerous industries for nearly five years. During that time, he gained experience working with clients in various nonprofit sectors and became an expert in nonprofit accounting.

Chet is a Nashville transplant, originally from Houston, Texas, who has experience in forming, running, and growing nonprofit organizations. He received his B.A. in Sports Management from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master’s of Science in Accountancy from Wake Forest University. He is a licensed certified public accountant in Tennessee and is a member of the AICPA and TSCPA. He is an avid hockey player and enjoys playing golf on the weekend.

Sean Farrell, Member

Sean Farrell serves as the Chief Customer Officer for Clarus Care, a healthcare SaaS firm serving hospitals and physician practices. Sean has served and consulted for startups and Fortune 500 companies, working across the spectrum of healthcare including diagnostics, homecare, PBMs and cybersecurity.

Sean is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, and he admits he can be a loud fan when the Vols are playing.

Sean, his wife Jenee, and sons Sam and Joshua have lived in Franklin since 2016. The entire family is grateful for the programs at GiGi's Playhouse, where 16-year old Sam especially enjoys CrossFit, Yoga and TeenTastic. Jenee co-chairs GiGi's Gala Committee, and Sean previously served on the Board of Directions for the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads.

Sean previously served as President of the Board of Managers of GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville for two terms.

Kevin Heath, Member

Kevin Heath is a tax senior manager with Ernst & Young (“EY”) and has approximately 15 years of experience providing tax consulting, tax accounting, and tax compliance services to an array of clients in the healthcare, technology, and retail sectors. Kevin’s experience includes working extensively within ASC 740 including issues around the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, business combinations, uncertain tax positions, share-based compensation, valuation allowances, and intraperiod allocations. Kevin also manages the overall tax services delivery to his clients which also includes tax consulting services and tax compliance engagements.

Kevin has his B.S. in Business Administration - Accounting from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, is a certified public accountant in Tennessee and Georgia, and is a member of the AICPA and TSCPA. We were thrilled to have Kevin join our GiGi's Board of Managers in 2019.

Gerd Peters, President

Gerd Peters has over 20 years of leadership in the healthcare industry with experience in operations, strategic partnerships and business development in various inpatient and ambulatory care settings. Finding she excelled in business strategy and innovation, she has successfully led teams in both operations and business development roles, most recently as AVP Strategic Initiatives and Business Development at Kindred Healthcare, RVP of Business Development at RestorixHealth and currently as Executive Director of the Southeast Region at naviHealth (an Optum Solutions company) managing value based care strategies with health system and health plan partners. Over the years, Gerd has volunteered and held a number of non-profit organization roles, and was a founding board member of the Nevada Executive Women in Healthcare Leadership. Currently she also serves on the American College of Healthcare Executives, Programs Committee.

Gerd earned her Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan. She shares that she owes her inspiration and passion for healthcare to her sister and counts it an honor and privilege to grow up with a sibling with Down syndrome. Residing in Hendersonville, Tennessee, she is thrilled to support the growth of GiGi’s Playhouse mission and programs in Middle Tennessee.

Sharon Sabol, Secretary

Sharon Sabol received her Learning Behavioral Specialist degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. This opened the door for her to teach as an inclusive, elementary Special Education teacher serving children with autism, developmental delays, and other health impairments for four years. During this time, she became passionate about learning how to help children and their families equip themselves with resources and self-advocacy skills.

As a volunteer, Sharon started one of the newest programs at GiGi's: The Extra Connection. The program grew out of a need for new families to access information virtually regarding the development of their young child with Down syndrome during the COVID pandemic. Experts have been brought in to discuss important topics such as health and development, occupational therapy, play therapy, speech and language, and feeding therapy. Sharon is a graduate of the Vanderbilt Advocacy Project program at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. In addition, she completed the Down syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee’s Parent IEP Mentor program and remains a volunteer IEP advocate to local families.

Sharon lives in the Nashville area with her husband David, and their three children. All enjoy GiGi’s programming, in particular the oldest, who has Down syndrome and benefits from the GiGi’s and local Down syndrome community.

Tiffany Wenzler, Member, Facilities Committee Chair and Volunteer Coordinator

Tiffany Wenzler is a founding board member who has served on our Board of Managers since 2013.Tiffany has worn many hats to help keep our local GiGi’s thriving. She has served as our Facilities Committee Chair for several years and has more recently taken on the role of Volunteer Coordinator and has been assisting in volunteer training and scheduling. Tiffany is currently acting as the InterimExecutive Director for Gigi’s Playhouse Nashville.

Tiffany received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with an Emphasis on Infancy and Preschool from Auburn University in 2002. After graduation, Tiffany spent several years teaching pre-kindergarten before having her own children and dedicating her life to raising them.

Tiffany is the mother of three children, including her daughter, Etta, who is rockin’ our favorite extrachromosome. When Etta was born in June 2008, Tiffany and her husband Keith were surprised byEtta’s Down syndrome diagnosis. In bringing a GiGi’s Playhouse to Nashville, Tiffany’s hope was to advance Down syndrome awareness and create a place that is an amazing resource for the Down syndrome population in the area.

Emily Whitson, Vice President

Emily Whitson works as an Exceptional Education Mentor at The Arc TN, where she helps families understand their special education rights and navigate the IEP process. She is on The Arc TN Public Policy Committee and a member of The Disability Coalition on Education. Emily was also on the charter school application review committee for Williamson County Schools.

Emily has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Athens State University. In 2021 she completed SEAT 2.0 (Special Education Advocacy Training) through COPAA. In 2017 she completed the Volunteer Advocacy Project through the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

Emily currently lives in Franklin with her husband, Brad and their three children, Eli, Noah, and Emmaline (who has Down syndrome). Emily enjoys cooking, reading and listening to true crime podcasts.

Courtney Wright, Member

Courtney Wright is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst with 15 years experience working with young children with a variety of speech and language needs. Courtney received her masters degree in Speech Language Pathology and doctoral degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University. All of Courtney's doctoral work focused on young children with Down syndrome specifically studying language development and augmentative/alternative communication. In addition to serving on the Board of Managers, Courtney also volunteers with GiGi's Playhouse as program leader for LMNOP.

Melissa Wenger, Member

Melissa Wenger is a digital marketing manager with HCA Healthcare and a founding board member of GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville. A native of Wisconsin, Melissa lived in La Crosse, Milwaukee, Madison, Peoria and Chicago before finally making her home in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband Bryan in 2001.

When her son, Cole, was born, the family had access to incredible programming and resources in Memphis. When her family relocated to Nashville in 2011, Melissa was determined to find the same types of programs in Nashville.

Finding a gap in available resources for people with Down syndrome, Melissa and Cole’s teacher, Erin, decided that they wanted to create a center that brought together families and those that loved individuals with Down syndrome together. After some research, they decided to work to bring a GiGi’s Playhouse to Nashville.

Working alongside a tenacious team of advocates, Melissa and Erin campaigned to bring GiGi’s Playhouse to Nashville to fill that need. Together they organized garage sales, cocktail receptions, and eventually a gala to raise the funds and awareness necessary to open the center. Melissa is proud to have seen GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville grow from the ground up into the thriving organization it is today.

When she’s not working or serving on the board or Melissa enjoys yoga, reading, and spending time with friends and family.