Board of Directors
Michelle Pfeiffer, President
Michelle lives in Cary with her husband and three children, Andrew, Anna, and Ashley. Her daughter Anna has Down syndrome and provides the passion for her to help improve the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. Michelle is also the Founder and Director of Anna’s Angels Foundation, a nonprofit foundation focused on funding Down syndrome research at Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center. Anna’s Angels mission is to improve the cognitive and communicative ability of individuals with Down syndrome.
Michelle Schwab, Vice President
Michelle lives in Apex, in an empty nest with her husband Robert after their 3 sons including Matthew, who is 24 and has Down syndrome, have moved out. After 20+ years as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer, Michelle now helps manage Matthew's public speaking business and supports Matthew as he navigates living independently. Michelle became involved in the Down syndrome community when Matthew was born and has stayed involved ever since. She is grateful to have been part of the start-up team for GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh and to serve on the Board of Directors.
Rachel Geer, Secretary
Rachel and her husband Ed live in Chapel Hill with their three boys TJ, Deuce & Kendall, who has Down syndrome. Rachel was part of the GiGi's Playhouse Raleigh start-up committee and serves on the Board of Directors. Rachel & Ed place a strong emphasis on education and GiGi’s Playhouse is an integral part of helping Kendall reach his full potential. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from NC State University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Elon University. Rachel works as a Contract Development Manager at ViiV Healthcare.
Maria Fumagalli de Romano, Board member / New Family Coordinator
Maria is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina and has lived in Chapel Hill, NC since July of 1993. She and her husband Francisco have three children: Maria (age 30), Lucia who has Down syndrome (age 25), and Francisco (age 23). Maria was a stay-at-home mom for most of her children's upbringing. Maria volunteered in the early stages when Triangle Down Syndrome Network was being formed (now the North Carolina Down Syndrome Alliance). In 2015 Maria was a part of the GiGi's Playhouse Raleigh start-up committee and she continues to serve on the Board as the New Family Coordinator. For the past 11 years, she has been working at UNC Craniofacial Center as a Spanish Interpreter.
Jason Gold, Treasurer
Jason grew up in Kinston, North Carolina and currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his amazing bride Kelly, two kids, and a rescue dog, Deuce. Jason is the youngest of four boys and one of his brothers, Andy, had Down syndrome. Jason is beyond honored to work with those with Down syndrome and their families. Jason is a real estate and transactional attorney licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina. Jason opened GOLD LAW PA in 2007 and continues to practice there today in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jason serves on the board and has been volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh since 2019.
Lauren Leeper, Board Member
Lauren returned to the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill to join the faculty as a Pediatric Otolaryngologist (or Pediatric ENT Surgeon) in 2014. Having attended UNC for her undergraduate degree, she is a true Tarheel through and through! She provides care for many wonderful patients with Ds and has loved introducing them and their families to GiGi's Playhouse! Her hope is to increase awareness in the medical community about GiGi's to provide better access to resources and community for individuals with Ds. Lauren and her husband Bradley live in Chapel Hill with their children Sutton and Carr and dogs Rusty and Hagrid.
Anita Spence, Board Member
For the past 20 years, Anita has called North Carolina home with her husband, Tim, and three daughters, Amanda, Morgan and Torrey. She studied Political Science at The Ohio State University and is passionate about public policy in her work at the North Carolina General Assembly. While working for Representative John Bradford, their office was the first in North Carolina history to provide individuals with Down syndrome opportunities for internships. It was through this initiative that she came in contact with and became an advocate for GiGi's Playhouse.
Bryan Huffman, Board Member
Bryan Huffman is the Chief Financial Officer for Williams Realty & Building Company. Bryan has extensive financial and real estate experience with over two decades of senior leadership. Prior to working at Williams Realty & Building Company, Bryan worked for 26 years at the YMCA of the Triangle, with the last 10 as Chief Financial Officer. In his current role, Bryan oversees Finance, Accounting, IT and Human Resources at Williams as the company plans significant growth in the coming years. Bryan received both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration from North Carolina State University. He enjoys spending time with his family at the beach, and is involved in various charitable organizations around the Triangle area. He lives in Cary, NC with his wife and two children. Volunteering at GiGi’s is a family affair. Bryan’s wife and daughter are regular volunteers at various GiGi’s programs.
Sonna Raman, Board Member
Sonna is passionate about inclusion and believes everyone offers something unique to the world. As a beneficiary of GiGi's programs, she is excited to grow the organization and help others benefit. Sonna is a native Virginian and now considers North Carolina home. She is President of NuPulse, a Raleigh-based clinical stage medtech company creating a device for heart failure.
Jeanhee Hoffman, Executive Director
Jeanhee and her husband live in Cary, after raising their two sons in Chapel Hill for 17 years. After visiting the National GiGi’s Playhouse in 2015 in Chicago, she wanted to help open the first GiGi’s Playhouse in North Carolina. Her younger brother, Sam, who has Down syndrome, was her inspiration to provide a “place” for families like hers to come and learn through their programs. She left a 26-year career in the finance world to fully dedicate her time to bring awareness and build relationships in our community to change the perception of Down syndrome.
Jeanhee’s role started as Founder, then President from 2016 through 2019, and currently serves as Executive Director. One thing is consistent: her belief in our participants and their futures.
Laura Krueger, Program Coordinator
Laura lives in Durham with her husband Caleb and their sweet dog Sal. Throughout her time working, she has found a passion for working with people with disabilities, especially those with Down Syndrome. She enjoys advocacy and supporting others in any way she can. The mission at GiGi’s Playhouse is one that serves very close to her and she is excited to continue to make an impact on the people around her.
Tara Stoll, Site Manager
New to the Raleigh area, Tara has a background in communications, video production, and graphic design. She recently finished up her master’s in K-12 Cross-Categorical Special Education and hopes to use her education and experience to help GiGi’s families navigate the IEP process and effectively advocate. As Mom to Olivia, her daughter with Ds, Tara has first-hand experience within the disability community and how families are impacted.
Tara has been married to Eric for 20 years, and they have three daughters (Amelia, Olivia, & Lyla) and two dogs (Charlie & Buster). She is very excited to share her passion for advocacy with GiGi’s families.
Becky was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She graduated college and moved to Cary in the late 90s to start her career in Human Services. Her first experience led her to direct an afterschool program specifically designed to help working families with children with disabilities, which gave families the ability to work normal business hours while providing safe and educational programs for their children. Throughout her career she has always remained passionate about working with people with disabilities, focusing the last 2 years in the WCPSS special education department working as an Instructional Assistant and Coach at Green Hope High School.
Becky has been married for almost 23 years to her Husband Matthew, and she has one 19-year-old Daughter, Maura who is a Sophomore at UNC Charlotte. She is so honored to work with GiGi’s Playhouse’s amazing families and staff.
Kaylee Saunders, Literacy Coordinator
Kaylee is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in Human Development and Family Studies. During the Spring of her senior year, Kaylee interned at GiGi's and was able to fulfill her passion of working with individuals with disabilities. This passion was developed at an early age when she was able to go to work with her mother at a program for individuals with autism. Kaylee is excited to continue working with her friends at the Playhouse and to carry out the mission of GiGi's.