Caroline Tate, Site Manager
Caroline lives in Raleigh with her husband Sam and two large, loveable fur babes. Her passion in life is to create social involvement for people of all ages, disabilities and backgrounds, so GiGi’s Playhouse mission, to change the way the world sees Down syndrome is a passion that resonates through her daily lifestyle. She feels honored to be the Site Manager and have a role in empowering individuals with Down syndrome. She leaves every day with a full cup, grateful that a day at GiGis means experiencing joy, acceptance and love.
Emily Faulkner, Operations Coordinator
Emily Faulkner became Operations Coordinator in 2017. Alongside Caroline, she has joy-filled days at GiGi's engaging with participants and their families & our amazing volunteers, all while helping ensure the Playhouse runs smoothly. The best thing about GiGi's is seeing the positive impact it has on so many families and the community each day! After graduating from NC State with a degree in Nuclear Engineering and Spanish, she worked at Duke Energy for 10 years before joining GiGi's Playhouse! In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband Scott and their dog Copper, reading books, cooking, watching sports and venturing around Raleigh with friends & family.
Alyson Powell, Assistant Site Coordinator
Alyson is so excited to be joining the GiGis Raleigh team! She graduated from NC State with a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition Science in May 2019 and is hoping to continue her education in Occupational Therapy in the coming years. Alyson has had a passion for the special needs community from an early age, starting a cheer squad for teens with Down syndrome in 2015. She was also involved in project unify and served as a nurse aide for a very special girl for the last few years. Alyson is so grateful to be able to combine her passions of equality, health & wellness, and service into her work here at GiGis Playhouse Raleigh.
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 Holly Springs with her husband Robert and 3 sons: Will (age 18), Ben (age 20) and Matthew (age 22) who has Down syndrome. After 20 years as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer, Michelle now helps manage Matthew's public speaking business. Michelle became involved in the Down syndrome community when Matthew was born and has stayed involved ever since. She longed for a place to go when Matthew was a baby and has wanted a GiGi's Playhouse in the Raleigh area since learning about it years ago. Michelle was part of the start-up team for GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh and serves on the Board of Directors.
Jeanhee Hoffman, Executive Director
Jeanhee is from Chicago, Illinois but has been in Chapel Hill since 1999. She is married to Jeff and they have two boys, ages 18 and 16. Jeanhee’s 44-year-old brother, Sam, with whom she is very close, has Ds and lives in the Chicago area with their parents. Sam enrolled in GiGi’s adult program in May 2015 and Jeanhee decided to open a GiGi’s Playhouse in NC. Jeanhee has worked in retail management, human resources, sales, and marketing. She is currently the Vice President of Marketing at C.W. Henderson & Associates, Inc in Chicago and has been with this firm for 21 years.
The mission and vision of GiGi’s Playhouse is obviously a true passion for Jeanhee and she views this endeavor as not only benefitting Sam, but others as well.
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 Masters in Business Administration from Elon University. Rachel works as a Government Contract Analyst at GlaxoSmithKline.
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 28), Lucia who has Down syndrome (age 23), and Francisco (age 21). 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.
Glenn Wolfe, Board Member
Glenn lives in Morrisville with an English Springer Spaniel named Freckles and a Guinea pig named Buttercup. He retired from academia in 2012 after a 28-year career as a college finance professor, then began working in corporate finance for a large healthcare system in Toledo, OH. Glenn moved to North Carolina in March of 2016 to begin a second retirement. He has been volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse-Raleigh since the Grand Opening in June of 2016 and thoroughly enjoys every minute!
Raven Byrne, Board Member
Raven grew up in Cary, North Carolina and currently lives in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina with her husband Adam and their daughter. Raven’s oldest nephew has Down syndrome. Raven is a family law and adoption attorney licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina. Her law firm, Brooks & Byrne, PLLC is located in Cary, North Carolina.
Raven has been serving on the board and volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh since early 2017. She also helps coordinate and welcome new families to our Playhouse. Raven is honored to serve and empower those with Down syndrome and their families to reach their highest potential through the programs and services offered at GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh. The joy and love surrounding GiGi’s Playhouse is contagious! It is a true blessing and honor for me to work with and serve these families!
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.
Mark Clark, Board Member
Mark is a native of Durham and currently resides in downtown Raleigh. He graduated with a Business Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he was also a Division I wrestler. A salesman by trade, Mark currently works for CEI: The Digital Office where his passions for service and community flourished. Mark has been an avid volunteer with GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh since 2016 and is thrilled to be serving on their board of directors. In his spare time you can find Mark longboarding in downtown Raleigh, working out or spending time with nephew, Carter.
Bo Walker, Board Member
Bo grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina and is better known as “Robert’s brother.” Robert is not only Bo’s older brother, but his oldest friend. Robert also has Down syndrome. By growing up with Robert, Bo has developed a passion for children and adults with special needs, especially those with Down syndrome. Bo has volunteered with Special Olympics, worked at summer camps for children with special needs and is thrilled to be a part of the team at GiGi’s Playhouse. Bo is married to Suzanne and they have two young boys and one crazy dog. They currently live in Raleigh, NC. Bo is partner in the litigation section of the law firm Ragsdale Liggett, PLLC in Raleigh, NC.
Lauren Kilpatrick, 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.
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.