Jennifer Gage, Founder GiGi’s Playhouse Scottsdale/Phoenix
GiGi’s Playhouse has given me a platform to make the world a better place for my 20-year-old daughter Kaitlyn, who has Down syndrome. When she was born, there were little to no resources for parents to help navigate this diagnosis. GiGi’s offers a holistic approach to families; not just helping the person with Down syndrome, but their parents, siblings, extended family and so forth. GiGi’s Playhouse is making real-time impact on peoples lives right in our own community and I am excited to be on the front lines of a movement for acceptance, kindness and generosity.
Christopher Hall, Board President
Chris, along with his wife Kristin, has been active in the Down syndrome community since the birth of their son Tyler in 1994. An entrepreneur, high school basketball coach, and advocate for individuals and families impacted by Down syndrome, Chris joined GiGi’s Playhouse after 25 years in the technology space, working with some of the biggest brands in the industry. Chris is passionate about providing resources, programs, and support for individuals with Down syndrome and their families from birth to adulthood - with a special focus on caregiving, public health and supporting aging adults where resources are especially limited and rare. Chris holds a BA in Business Administration and a BA in Management from the University of Phoenix, has served as a board member for Special Olympics of Western Colorado, and the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. Chris, Kristin, and Tyler live in Scottsdale, and golf as often as possible with Tyler behind the wheel of the cart.
Kenda Gonzales, Board Treasurer
Kenda grew up in the Valley and has been active in our community, previously serving on the Board of Directors of Sojourner Center, Xavier College Preparatory and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She has more than 30 years of executive management experience leading corporations. Her background includes serving as a CFO and public company board member and she is a certified public accountant. Kenda and her husband Ed, are parents to three children and six grandchildren. Baker, their fifth grandchild and only grandson, has Down Syndrome. Our family found GiGi’s shortly before Baker’s birth and he has attended the LMNOP program. Kenda is excited to be involved in GiGi’s Playhouse mission of helping change the way the world sees Down Syndrome.
Laura Currier, Immediate Past President and Director of Medical Outreach
A very active member of the community and resident of Arizona for 36 years, Laura joined GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix three years ago as the Program Leader for GiGi’s Signature Language, Music ‘N Our Peeps (LMNOP) program. She is proud of the progressive growth in the Phoenix program since her start. Laura holds a BS in Speech Pathology/Audiology from Bradley University and a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology with a Minor in Special Education from Arizona State University as has been a professional Speech Pathologist with the public school system for more than 16 years. Laura currently serve as the PTO Board President for Kiva and Mohave Schools and is a member of the Desert Foundation Auxiliary Board. As a fitness enthusiast, Laura coached Special Olympics for many years and was a Board Member and Board President for Xavier Girls Preparatory School. Laura is married and mother to three young adults.
Kameron Moody, Director
Kameron moved from California to Scottsdale in 2020 at the perfect time to try out Arizona...June. Finding some relief from the heat at the Sweet Republic Ice Cream shop next to the Playhouse, her son Austin ran to the door of GiGi’s and pressed his face against the glass, begging to go inside. Having just moved from Orange County where Kameron had been on the startup committee for that GiGi’s location, she knew they had found their home. She contacted the Playhouse the next day, and the rest is history. Kameron is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been in practice since 1999. She is a mom to two incredible kids, Avery and Austin, who has Down syndrome. Kameron and her husband Caleb, co-lead the Little Sports program for GiGi’s, and are so happy Austin led them to the GiGi’s Playhouse here in Phoenix!
Louann Phillips - Director
Louann Phillips is a proud Arizona native who grew up in the West Valley. She learned young (from a father who was a small town Police Chief and a mother who always volunteered) that helping others in need is rewarding.
After graduating with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Arizona State University, she began her career as a marketing, communication and event planning professional, both employed by and consulting with a variety of nonprofits. When she learned of GiGi’s Playhouse and their purpose to send a global message of acceptance for all, she was hooked.
Most rewarding to Louann is her role as a mother. She enjoys time with her daughters Annabelle and Klara, whether it be shuttling them to activities or joining them in discovering the amazing dining options our community offers.
Brendan Hughes - Director
Brendan is an experienced software sales executive with over 15 years of experience in business development and customer acquisition. After growing up in Los Angeles, CA and graduating from the University of Southern California, he decided to settle down and continue his career in Scottsdale, AZ. Currently, Brendan supports GiGi's various technology needs and is a GiGi's Playhouse Phoenix board member. He is excited about the continued opportunity to advocate for individuals and families that have been impacted by Down syndrome. Outside of work and volunteering for GiGi's, he also enjoys RV-ing, making music and spending time with his girlfriend and his two dogs.
Peter Short MD, Director
After 25 years caring for children in a private practice of Pediatrics and 18 years as the Chief Medical Officer in our local community hospital, I retired on October 1, 2021. During that time I cared for many children with all varieties of disabilities. I was impressed with the love and dedication those parents have for their children and wanted to give back to those families when I retired for what they taught me that helped me be a better Pediatrician. As the Chief Medical Officer at Beverly Hospital in Beverly, Massachusetts my focus was on providing the highest quality of care for our patients. While I was Chief Medical Officer we received straight “A” ratings from the Leapfrog group, putting us in the top 99th percentile of hospitals in the country. I live in Scottsdale for part of the year and have volunteered at GiGi’s since I retired. As a member of the Board of Directors I look forward to helping GiGi’s provide the highest quality services to their participants and families.
Jamie L. Mayrose, Director
I am a founding member of Rader Mayrose, LLP, a small firm dedicated to providing effective, efficient legal services to small companies, non-profits, and schools. In addition to my law degree, I also have a master’s degree in higher education administration with a focus in business. Prior to opening my own firm, I worked for several national law firms. I am originally from the great Hawkeye State (“Is this Heaven? It’s Iowa.”) and have lived in Arizona since 2005. I previously served on the board of a small non-profit working with at-risk youth. For the past seven years, I have served on the board of a large non-profit that is one of the oldest arts organizations in the country. On both boards, I have held numerous officer positions, including board president. In my free time, I hike, spend time with my dogs and friends, and frequently return to Iowa to visit family.
Nicole Wheatcroft, Director
Nicole is a CPA and Chief Financial Officer of Casa Grande Elementary School District with over a decade of experience in Nonprofit and Arizona School Finance. Nicole came to GiGi's in 2016 shortly after her second son Jude was born with Down syndrome, and has been advocating for families ever since. She lives in downtown Phoenix with her sons Lincoln and Jude and is active in the Coronado Historic Neighborhood community.
Robin Lea-Amos, Executive Director
Robin is the inaugural Executive Director of GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix. Robin is a nonprofit professional with more than 10 years of experience in grant administration, board governance and communication, management, public speaking, meeting and event planning, development, fundraising and community engagement. She is also the proud grandparent of Jackson, who was born in 2015 with the incredible gift of Down syndrome.
Robin most recently graduated from the ASU Lodestar School with an Executive Leadership Certificate and has been an active member of several nonprofit boards, including Special Olympics of Arizona, GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix and Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation.
She and her husband spend as much time as possible with their children and grandchildren and have become advocates wherever they can to educate people on Down syndrome. In her spare time, Robin quilts, practices yoga and hikes on the many Valley trails that she has called home since moving to Arizona when she was six months old.
Robert Diventi - Program Director
Robert “Rob” Diventi is excited to join the GiGi’s Family. He is a former firefighter/emergency medical technician from a suburb just outside of New York City. He moved to the Valley of The Sun to pursue a career in law enforcement where he spent his time of service in patrol, investigations and supervision.
A few years ago, while traveling down Shea Boulevard with his wife, she told him about an amazing place called GiGi’s. Following his retirement from the police department, Robert was drawn to GiGi's and began to volunteer. As he began to volunteer and assist the GiGi’s family, he fell in love with all the families and participants.
As the new Director of Programming, he wants to have an open dialogue with participants and their families to continue to make GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix a “Center of Excellence” for programming. Rob’s aim is to continue to provide purposeful programs that address the wants and needs of all who participate in programs at GiGi's Playhouse Phoenix.
“It is my honor and privilege to take on this new challenge.”
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Sarah Hales - Speech-Language Pathologist
Sarah attended the University of Missouri-Columbia and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education, with an emphasis in Early Childhood. She received her Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Kansas in 1995. She's practiced as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in Arizona since 1998. Sarah has worked with a variety of ages, populations and disorders throughout her career. Her areas of expertise include Early Intervention, Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) and treating motor-speech disorders.
Sarah has been actively involved with the Down syndrome community in Arizona for more than 20 years, as a volunteer as well as professionally. She's one of only nine SLP's in the United States who belong to the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group - USA (DSMIG-USA), a group of health professionals committed to promoting the optimal health care and wellness of individuals with Down syndrome across the lifespan. Joining Gigi's Playhouse Phoenix to oversee and grow the speech therapy program is "a dream come true!"
Sarah loves living in Arizona! She's a hiker, bike rider, and hobbyist photographer. She volunteers as a Steward for the McDowell-Sonoran Conservancy - you may see her greeting you at one of the trailheads around Scottsdale!
Cathy Judge, Operations Manager
As a member of the initial Startup Committee for GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix more than six years ago, Cathy joyfully accepted her role to co-manage operations of the site. Cathy’s extensive operations management experience was invaluable in the startup of the Phoenix Playhouse. As the grandmother of a young adult with Down syndrome and the mother of GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix Founder, Jennifer Gage, Cathy is passionate about the success of the Playhouse and is grateful to serve the hundreds of families who refer to it as their “home away from home.”
Laura Kimble - Playhouse Manager
Laura along with her family, husband Chris and sons Roy and Ted, first discovered GiGi’s Playhouse on World Down Syndrome Day 2016 when Ted was only 6 weeks old and immediately felt like it was a home away from home. Through favorite programs like LMNOP and tutoring, they have found lifelong friendships, support, and tools to help Ted reach his full potential. She has enjoyed giving back to the Playhouse by leading awareness campaigns like the Runs for Ted baseball trip and volunteering with marketing and social media. With a passion for engaging others in community organizations, especially those benefiting kids and underserved communities, she’s been highly involved in PTO, Little League and high school booster clubs.
Laura brings her education in marketing at Minnesota State and her vast experience in volunteer-based organizations.
Cindy Simpson, Director of Adult Learning - GiGi Prep & GIGI U
Cindy and her husband, Tim raised their two boys, Tyler and Brady (both at ASU) in Scottsdale for the past 16 years after moving from their home state of California. She has been a substitute teacher with the Scottsdale Unified School District for the past 12 years and continues to sub when not working or volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse, her “Happy Place!” Now an empty nester, Cindy joined us in January volunteering for our Literacy Tutoring program (virtually) and quickly added in the GiGi FIT program to her schedule. Cindy has volunteered or worked in the special education arena since high school and was thrilled to join the GiGi’s family! “GiGi’s Playhouse is my favorite place to be!”