Join us in Saying Farewell…But Not Goodbye!

Dear GiGi’s Nashville family:

It is with both deep gratitude and sadness that we announce that our friend and Executive Director, Carter Abel, has made the decision to step down from his staff role at GiGi’s at the end of October.We, as a board, want to thank Carter for the three plus years he spent sending his warmth and good cheer out into our community. We will miss his leadership, dedication, and commitment to our GiGi’s Playhouse and the larger Down syndrome community here in Middle Tennessee. 

As our very first executive director, Carter will always have a special place in our hearts.  He came into the position with the passion of a dedicated father and was able to successfully lead us through some hard trials, from rebuilding our staff from the ground up to responding to the significant impact of COVID-19 on our programming and fundraising. We were proud to have his steady hand on the helm throughout these past three years, and we know we are better positioned now than we were when he came on board. We want to share just a few of the most notable accomplishments under Carter’s leadership: 

  • In 2021, we provided FREE services to over 145 individuals with Down syndrome and nearly 300 additional family members who logged nearly 3,300 participation hours of programming.  This included over 600 hours of 1:1 math and literacy tutoring to help our participants continue to grow and reach their “Best of All.” 
  • We organized parent and community education programs that reached more than 100 families annually. 
  • We contributed virtual programs and resources to the network-wide GiGi’s At Home platform, reaching tens of thousands of people from 82 different countries. 
  • We successfully launched our Sumner County extension (with our partner NorthField Church) to bring the magic of GiGi’s out to the northern suburbs. 
  • We expanded our adult programming to include GiGi Prep and GiGiU, two- and three-day/week offerings that support our adults in reaching their life and career goals. 
  • Annually, GiGi’s Nashville hosts almost 200 volunteers who generously donate over 2,500 service hours.  
  • Even in the midst of the pandemic, we maintained our solid financial footing to ensure our lifetime commitment to walk beside the families we serve. 
  • Carter was this year’s recipient of the Mollie Burd Gavigan Service Award from the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee in recognition of his work celebrating and supporting our friends with Down syndrome. 

 It is our sincere hope that you will thank Carter for his service by joining us for chili and treats at our Trunk or Treat Party on October 30th.

While we will all miss Carter in his role as Executive Director, he and his family will always be part of our Nashville GiGi’s community… and we hope to see him and his family (especially Micah!) in programs regularly.  

Part of Carter’s enduring legacy is the fabulous staff that he has cultivated during his time as Executive Director.   With their expertise and enthusiasm, we plan to continue operating at full capacity during this interim period. 

  • If you have questions about operations (including events, communications and marketing, finances, and/or donor development, please send those requests to our multi-talented Operations Coordinator Emma Fleet, 
  • If you have a concern that does not fall into any of these categories or something that has fallen through the cracks, please contact me (Daniel Cage, Board President) directly at

Our entire Board stands behind our capable staff as they step up during this transition period. We remain focused on our mission to change the way the world views Down syndrome by offering free therapeutic-based, educational, social, and career development programming to individuals with Down syndrome and their families. With your help, we will continue to grow and thrive!

With that in mind, our Board will be initiating an executive search over the next couple of months to support our growing Playhouse.  Board Vice President Gerd Peters,, will be leading that search committee for a new Executive Director.  If you would like more information or have a candidate to nominate, please reach out to Gerd directly. 

We cannot thank Carter enough for the leadership, passion, and grace that he has shared with our community. As a part of this process, Carter would like to share his own words with each of you about his GiGi’s experience and his future endeavors.

As always, thank you for supporting our GiGi’s family!

Yours sincerely,
Daniel Cage
2022 President, Board of Managers
GiGi’s Playhouse Nashville

A Letter From Carter

Dear Friends, 

 Serving on the team at GiGi’s these last several years has been a joy and a privilege. This place has meant so much to our family since the birth of our son, Micah, and I have loved having the opportunity to give back to this community which has served our family and others like mine so well over the years. Everyone who I’ve had the opportunity to serve alongside is remarkable and wonderful—our board, our staff, our volunteers, our supporters, and our families—and I am excited to remain a part of this community for years to come. 

 The decision to step down from my role as Executive Director was not one I came to lightly. This past year has been challenging for my family, with evolving responsibilities, health situations, and other life changes making it difficult to balance the growing reach of GiGi’s with the demands of being a good father, husband, and family member. As such, I will be transitioning into a new role with another nonprofit organization dear to my heart—Compassion International—that will free up more time to focus on my family in the coming season of life. 

 But this is not goodbye! My family and I are so excited to stay involved with GiGi’s as participants in programs and events, and I am looking forward to contributing as a volunteer as I’m needed and able. 

 I truly believe the best is yet to come for GiGi’s Nashville. The staff is amazing, and we have so many strong volunteers that will continue making programs meaningful and impactful. The sky is the limit, and I’m excited to see what comes of this place and mission in the years ahead.  

 Thank you for the opportunity to serve—it’s been a true gift. Onwards and upwards!

Carter Abel


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