Home  |  Blog  |  Store  |  National HQ  |  Contact Us


Our Team


Karen Falk, President

Karen lives in San Diego with her husband and three young children. Her youngest daughter, Lindsey, has Down syndrome. Karen has worked as a civil engineer in the water resources industry for over 15 years and has past experience volunteering on a non-profit Board. She is very excited about all of the wonderful programs and opportunities that GiGi’s Playhouse San Diego will offer her daughter and all individuals with Down syndrome in Southern California.


Vice President - Vacant


Nicole Pascarella Palomino, Secretary

Nicole lives in San Diego with her husband and 3 year old daughter with Down syndrome.  As a project manager for 15 years, she has used her experience to help get the first Gigi’s Playhouse in California open and serve as Board Secretary.


Robert Bacsik, Treasurer

Robert lives in San Diego with his wife and 3 year old daughter who has Down syndrome.  He has worked in the accounting industry for 9 years, working for a small firm, his own firm, and most recently as the treasurer for a non-profit respite agency in San Diego county.  Robert looks forward to ensuring Gigi's Playhouse maintains its financial resources in a manner that will allow long term growth and sustainability.


Stephanie Rais Ortiz, Marketing and Outreach Committee Lead

Stephanie resides in San Diego along with her husband Chris and daughter Annette. She worked in the advertising industry for numerous years and currently works as a business consultant for a diverse group of clients. She is very excited to be a part of Gigi’s Playhouse San Diego and she strongly believes it's a great environment for her daughter and others with Down syndrome to be in. It’s a place where confidence is built, skills are gained and friends are made.


Jillean Veroneau, Site Coordinator

Jillean graduated from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island with a BS in Psychology and Biology. She has worked as a behavioral therapist and neurofeedback practitioner, as well as an early childhood educator. Jillean is originally from Boston but has called San Diego home for the last five years. She loves the sunshine, being outside, and camping. Jillean has a heart for giving back and is excited to bring her skills to the non-profit sector. She has a great deal of experience with special needs and children of all ages and a passion for helping everyone live their most fulfilled life, regardless of differences.

Mary King, Events Committee Lead

Mary was motivated to come to GiGi’s Playhouse by the idea of offering support to families new to a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Her son Nate was diagnosed at birth and she wanted to share her experience so that they might understand what an incredible blessing Down syndrome is! In total, Mary has 3 young sons and is married to a Marine stationed in San Diego, where they live. She brings over 17 years of event planning experience to the board and enjoys lending those talents to contribute to the success of our young playhouse!