Leaders Supporting Leaders | GiGi’s Playhouse Annual Leadership Conference 2022

GiGi’s National Leadership Conference 2022

One dedicated volunteer, our faithful Site Manager, and four passionate Board Members had the privilege to attend the National Leadership Conference in Chicago last week. Two of those Board Members have also recently taken on staff roles with the GiGi’s National Office, so they were wearing two hats this year! We came together to build teams, strengthen our mission, and grow together.

Volunteers, board members, and staff join together every year for a 4-day event focused on professional and mission growth. Attendees learn from their peers, community leaders, and experts in the business and nonprofit world, walking away energized, inspired, and ready to take on another year of changing the way the world views Down syndrome.

Kim Cheers, Our Playhouse Site Manager

Can we skip to the good part was the perfect song to describe how we feel about waiting for conference! Conference is truly the best part of the year at GiGi’s and not just because we get to dance our butts off and celebrate! When you hear you belong here that is truly what conference is, you know you belong here, the message hits you in the face and soul. The passion and inspiration that gets poured into me during the conference rejuvenate me to pour even more into others at our Playhouse. The time I get to spend with peers is invaluable, whether its over a drink or in session, the conversation is always how to make GiGi’s bigger and better.

On top of learning from subject matter experts across our network, the guest speaker sessions provided tools and content to take our mission even further! Not to brag  but we did get some pretty special recognition that felt pretty darn good after a year of hard work and selflessness from the entire team.

Nicole Harrigan, Board President

I was especially happy to see that Inc. took our feedback to heart and created sessions that delved deeper into various topics for those of us who have attended before. Of course, after all that learning, we need to relax, and what better way to relax than a dance party with all the self-advocates from Inc?! Cuz there ain’t no party like a GiGi’s party!


Holly Siino, Playhouse Volunteer and Program Lead

The GiGi’s Leadership Conference was an amazing experience. I came back so rejuvenated from spending time with like minded people committed to the same cause. I was inspired by the self advocates sharing their stories and sharing their hopes and dreams for GiGi’s. As a Program Lead, I learned a lot of great tips and ideas that I am excited to take back to the programs and continue to create the most inclusive and innovative programs possible for our participants. We already plan to use Canva to create advertisements in our next Fantastic Friends session as a fun way to promote literacy and technology skills-something I had never considered before! Ultimately, I am honored to be a part of this amazing community and can’t wait to be a part of our continued growth to support individuals with Down syndrome across our community.

Nikki Deters, Board Member | Social Media

Conference 2022 was inspirational and informative. I have helpful tips and tools in my belt to succeed with social media. Being around self-advocates and GiGi’s ambassadors paints a beautiful picture of what my son’s future will look like, bright, and full of endless possibilities. GiGi’s Playhouse makes my heart so full! Everyone from all the Playhouses feels like home. I’m excited and recharged!

April Davila, Board Vice President | National Office Regional Specialist North & West

Always a cup filler…National conference was a wonderful mix of development with the board and staff, plus a blend of education and best practices topped with a festive celebration together!

I am giddy with excitement to hit 2023 with a new year of growth and expansion! We have been so blessed in 2022 and wrapped in love from our Ds family and the community at large. Grateful, humbled and PUMPED UP for 2023!!!!

Olivia Goad, Board Member | Marketing & National Office Social Media Content Creator

GiGi’s National Leadership Conference always gives me that extra push and motivation, reminding me of why I am a part of this organization and how to be even more of an inspiration! There were so many other teams on the same mission as us; we were all so excited to learn together.


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