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
Jennifer Candelario, Secretary
Jennifer lives in San Diego with her husband and son Mateo. She worked as an athletic trainer and educator for over 15 years. She currently teaches at a high school in San Diego. She is very excited to be a part of GiGi's Playhouse San Diego. After taking part in many of the programs they offer, she thought she would join the team! She is excited to build relationships with families and to make a difference in the down syndrome community. She has made many friends through GiGi's and want to continue global acceptance and inclusion for individuals with down syndrome.
Molly Kimpel-Borska, Treasurer
Molly lives in San Diego with her husband and two young children. She worked for several years in different areas of the legal field, most recently as a family law paralegal. Her previous volunteer experience served women and children in crisis, children with special medical needs, and households facing food insecurity. Molly is so excited to serve as Treasurer and to be involved with the wonderful people in our community with Downs Syndrome and their families
Stephanie Rais Ortiz, Events Committee Chair
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.
Denise Montero, Office Administrator
Denise was born and raised in Mexico. She’s been living in California for over 15 years. She has a BA in Marketing and has also done vast volunteer work at the Make-A-Wish-Foundation San Diego and Casa de Las Madres in San Francisco. She enjoys spending time with her son and going out for walks with their dog, hiking and swimming – pretty much any outdoor activity!
Phifer Crute, Site Manager
Phifer is a North Carolina native who moved to San Diego via Washington, DC, 13 years ago. Her entire career has been in the not-for-profit sector. She has worked with an array of organization including Carolina Ballet, NC Museum of Art, and most recently as the Director of Development of the UNC Children's Hospital. Since moving to San Diego, she has been involved as a volunteer in various organizations including Voices for Children, St. Germaine Children's Charities, the Bird Rock Elementary Foundation, and Home Start. She is extremely excited to be part of the GiGi's Playhouse San Diego family and looks forward to using her experience in support of their mission.
Kelci Wilner, Fundraising Chair
Kelci lives in San Diego and as a financial advisor, she is passionate about helping people. Although not a parent yet, she has been an active volunteer in the special needs community with school-age kids for several years. Kelci is very excited to be a part of Gigi’s Playhouse San Diego and is looking forward to growing our playhouse and community!
April Villafana, Outreach Committee Lead & North County Committee Lead
April lives in North County, San Diego, with her husband Luis, and two daughters Isabella and Emma. Her oldest daughter, Isabella, has Down syndrome. April works full-time as an advocate for children with special needs and disabilities. She is an active member of various special need and disability organizations, non-profits, boards, and special education groups. She has a passion for the Down syndrome community, inclusion, and assisting families in obtaining the services, supports, and benefits their child is entitled to.
Jeri Gurley, Programs Chair
Jeri is currently the Literacy Coordinator Volunteer. She is a former special education and regular education teacher. She's also a parent of a 29-year-old son, with Down syndrome.
“I heard about Gigi’s Playhouse on the news when they had the Donut Run in 2018. I started volunteering for Gigi’s that Fall. First, I started assisting in several programs and events. I then started substituting for programs. I became the leader of the Playhouse Pals and later Kids Club both are programs for school age participants. In the summer of 2019, I ran the summer camp. It was for all ages and so much fun. I heard they were looking for a Literacy Program Coordinator. I decided to use my expertise as a former special education and regular education teacher to help develop the Literacy Program which started summer 2019. I was honored to help start a much-wanted program. I coordinated as well as tutored in our program and have been doing it ever since then.
Our participants have been troopers doing their BEST OF ALL, learning. And, if it were not for our GREAT PARENTS we would not be able to do this. It has been a great learning experience. "