The past few months have been both challenging and exciting for GiGi’s Playhouse NYC. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to temporarily close our Harlem storefront, however we met the challenge and immediately launched a variety of new virtual programs for our participants and community. These virtual programs actually led to an increase in our attendance figures. In the midst of the global pandemic and our transition to a virtual world, six exceptional individuals came forward to join the GiGi’s NYC Board of Directors. In partnership with our standing board members, this group is committing their support to our mission. I am honored to introduce our new team members here:

Joyce Gottbetter is a General Manager at Microsoft, working with healthcare customers across the country. She had a lengthy executive sales career at IBM prior to joining Microsoft. Originally from West Virginia, Joyce was raised in Western Pennsylvania, and graduated as an engineer from Penn State. During her time with IBM, Joyce and her husband Brian, and their two children, lived in Shanghai, China for five years and traveled worldwide. Joyce is head of our Governance Committee.

Daniela Berger Pollack is the Chief Financial Officer of the College Board and oversees financial planning, investments, accounting and procurement to maximize resources for the organization’s ambitious goal of clearing a path for all students. She has a wealth of

experience helping large, international organizations manage their resources effectively, and has held executive roles at Viacom, International Paper, Kraft Foods, Lumenis® and the Latin America division of Alcoa®. A native of Brazil, Daniela earned a BA in business administration from Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo before completing an MBA at the University of Chicago. She speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish, and mentors students through the Year Up® program. Daniela is joining our Finance Committee.

David Kotler is a Partner with Dechert LLP, a global law firm. During his 26+ years as a practicing corporate litigator, David has developed a strong sense of good board governance practices, as well as an ability to work in a collaborative manner. He has also developed an ability to make and maintain important client relationships, which translates well to creating and expanding relationships within the GiGi’s NYC community. David earned a Bachelors of Science degree from Cornell (School of Industrial and Labor Relations) and a Juris Doctor degree from NYU. From a personal standpoint, he has been incredibly moved by his daughter’s long-held interest in working with children with differing abilities, which now has led her to focus on special education in her college and intended post-graduate studies. David welcomes the opportunity to involve both his daughter and his two sons in volunteering at GiGi’s NYC. David is joining our Governance Committee.

Amy Romero is a seasoned marketing executive, published writer and speaker. Amy is currently the CMO of Kyndoo Media, a data tech company servicing the Influencer marketplace. Previously, she has had roles in sales, marketing and media production. She received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Boston College and a Business Analytics certification from the University of Pennsylvania. Amy excels in creating online communities and virtual fundraising events. Amy is head of our Marketing Committee.

Krystina Spadea is a Senior Director in the Chief Business Office at Pfizer, Inc. She has held roles in business development, corporate strategy, commercial development and marketing. Prior to joining Pfizer in 2012, Krystina had experience in investment banking at Jefferies, corporate finance at Eli Lilly and consulting in the Intellectual Property practice at CRA International. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Villanova University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. Krystina is head of our Communications Committee.

Michael Torres is currently a Director of Business Planning and Strategy at American Express, and has held various positions over the past 10 years within finance, consulting, product and operations. Mike completed the Executive MBA Program at NYU in 2019. He is extremely enthusiastic about joining the GiGi’s NYC team and eager to support our mission and give back to our community. Michael is joining our Development Committee.

I would like to take a moment to recognize Pat Donini, head of our Board Recruitment Committee. Pat has the deft talent of an alchemist, selecting board candidates who are successful in their fields, talented and highly collaborative. In their brief tenures on the board, many have already committed to positions and projects, increasing our ability to achieve our goals. They immediately began partnering with standing board members to build capabilities and refine processes that result from working together seamlessly. The future is bright!

Building the Board ensures the growth of our core leadership strength, and positions us to expand our reach and development. To support this ambitious plan, effective immediately Yamira Siu will assume the Board’s Co-Vice President position, partnering with Co-Vice President Jane Providenti to manage GiGi’s NYC operations, staff and volunteers. This Co-Vice President partnership is very exciting for GiGi’s NYC and our community. Yamira will continue to lead the Outreach Committee and Jane will continue to lead the Development and Program Committees.

We greatly appreciate the effort and expertise that Liza Galler has contributed to improve our operations, staffing and programs. Liza serves on our NYC board, is our Literacy Coordinator and is on GiGi’s National Educational Excellence Committee. The tenure of her work

in this area exceeded original forecasts by many months. We appreciate her commitment to excellence as we were building the board to obtain colleagues who can also do the work necessary for GiGi’s NYC to accomplish its goals.

Ruth Erickson has assumed the role of Board Secretary. Sharon Hart Fanelli served as Board Secretary for the past five years. Sharon now becomes an Emeritus Board Member because of her many contributions to GiGi’s NYC and commitment to always be a part of our family, lending her expertise and effort when helpful and necessary. Sharon joins our two founders, Debbie Morris and Tracy Nixon, who also hold the Emeritus role.

As Board President, I will continue to focus on board development and recruitment, marketing and communications, committee objectives achievement, collaboration and success, and our 2020 Gala. I will collaborate with our Board as we develop our future strategy.

Please join me in welcoming our new Board members and congratulating Ruth, Yamira and Sharon on their new board roles.

Thank you for travelling on this journey with us as we continue to work each day to achieve the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse NYC, while ensuring that we are nimble and prepared for the future.

All the best,

Frank Sawyer
Board President
GiGi’s Playhouse NYC


1 Comment

  1. Lee on September 11, 2020 at 7:41 am

    Embrace our adult Children with Downsyndrome

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