Karen Carlson, Executive Director
Serving as the Executive Director of GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford, I now know what it means to be part of a place that lives its mission out loud!
The first time I stepped into the Playhouse, the logo tag line that reads “educate. inspire. believe.” came to life and took on new meaning. I have a background in psychology and close to three decades of professional experience in Rockford’s social service community, but I didn’t need any of that to be able to see and feel immediately that GiGi’s is a place that makes a difference every day in the lives of the individuals and families it serves.
It’s truly an honor to be part of a team that stands at the forefront of changing the world’s perception of children and adults with Down syndrome. If you haven’t seen “the magic” up close, we encourage you to stop in … whether you’re an interested community member, enthusiastic volunteer or new family to our playhouse, be prepared to open your mind and heart to those with Down syndrome and GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford!!! Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (815) 654-7529, ext. 211.
Stacey Bonetti, Operations Coordinator
I am a Rockford native who has a background in Administrative work. I answered an ad for Administrative help here at GiGi’s, not knowing much about Down syndrome. I have now been here since January of 2013, and my administrative duties pale in comparison with the interactions I have with the many participants of the various programs. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and I was meant to be here…not as much for my help to run GiGi’s office, but to learn about people with disabilities and what a wonderful addition they are to our community! These people are warm, caring and wonderful and I am proud to call them my friends. GiGi’s Playhouse has given me much more than I have given it, but I believe it is a wonderful partnership between us. I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have and I can be reached at email@example.com or by calling the playhouse at (815) 654-7529.
Devyn McNeany, Education Coordinator
I began my journey at GiGi's Playhouse Rockford as a volunteer when I was 13 years old and loved every moment I've spent here. GiGi's has helped me find my path and my passion in life. After volunteering at the Playhouse through high school and college, I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in family social services, and I have also had extensive experience in special education. Having a special education and social work background has given me plenty of opportunities to work with and learn from various populations. Still, I have never felt the sense of community, family, and acceptance present at the Playhouse. As Education Coordinator, I hope to become a pillar of support for the families and participants that I am lucky enough to get to know during my time here. It means so much to me to be given this opportunity to learn and grow with the fantastic individuals, families, and volunteers I encounter here, and I hope I can give back at least a small portion of what I have received from my years at GiGi's. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (815) 654-7529, ext. 212.
Kyra Casalena, Education Coordinator
My name is Kyra Casalena, and I am a Senior at Rockford University - my major is Human Development with a minor in Psychology. I was placed at GiGi’s Playhouse as an intern during my junior year and continued to volunteer through the summer. I was placed on this path for a reason to help me find my passion, and the paths aligned as the position opened for Education Coordinator. I use my knowledge of human development and psychology every day in the playhouse to help individuals with Down Syndrome learn and grow just as much as they have helped me. My goal is to be a resource for every participant and their families involved in the playhouse, and to create a positive space of growth and learning for those with Down Syndrome. I hope to continue making wonderful relationships with participants, their families, and volunteers, and making an impact on the way the world views Down Syndrome. I am so grateful to be a part of GiGi’s Playhouse! Please feel free to reach out to me @ email@example.com or (815) 654-7529 Ext 112.
Board of Directors
President, Nicole Morig
Vice President, Sarah Johnson
Secretary, Susan Arntzen
Past President, Penny Wirtjes
Board Member, Michael Dalke, Retired