Our Team

Karen, GiGi's Playhouse Rockford Team Member

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 kcarlson@gigisplayhouse.org or (815) 654-7529, ext. 211.

Stacy, GiGi's Playhouse Rockford Team Member

Stacey Bonetti, Administrative Assistant

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 sbonetti@gigisplayhouse.org or by calling the playhouse at (815) 654-7529.

Board of Directors

President - Penny Wirtjes
Founding Board Member

Vice-President - Nicole Morig
Assistant Vice President, Illinois Bank & Trust

Treasurer - Ellen Poppen, CPA, CMA
EKP Solution Source

Secretary - Jerry Guinane
VP/Human Resources, SwedishAmerican Health System

Past President - Michael Dalke
Assistant Deputy Chief, Rockford Police Department


Fred Muehlfelder
Funeral Director, Fitzgerald Funeral Home

Thomas McMahon
Regional Financial Services Manager, WESCO Distribution, Inc.

Jeff Klarman
President, KMK Media Group

Scott Freeman
Senior Pharmaceutical Sales Manager, Amgen, Inc.

Steve Summers
Morning Host and Brand Manager, Mid-West Family Broadcasting