Our Team


Denise Montero, Programs Coordinator

Denise was born and raised in Mexico and has lived in California for over 15 years. She has a BA in Marketing and has 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! She has worked part-time for GiGi’s Playhouse San Diego since 2019, starting as Office Administrator before shifting focus to coordinate the details or the expanding programs offered at GiGi’s Playhouse as Programs Coordinator. She is fluent in both English and Spanish. We are lucky to have her as part of the team!

Marissa Chavez, Site Manager

Marissa (Rissa) is a rehabilitation counselor with a specialization in cognitive disabilities. She holds a rehabilitation counseling certification, utilizing her skills in the field of different abilities encouraging folks to explore their gifts in a wide variety of vocational settings, personal development and socialization skills. She is a long-term member/facilitator of the San Diego People First Community and the current Co-Chair of the San Diego In Home Support Services Advisory Committee. Rissa is excited and ready to explore her new role at GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement San Diego.


Kelci Wilner, President

Kelci is a financial advisor and is passionate about helping people. Although not a parent yet, she has been an active volunteer in the special needs community with school-aged children for several years. Kelci started volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse as a Literacy Tutor and program assistant before joining the Board and serving as Fundraising Chair for over two years. She eagerly took on the President position in July 2022. She is very excited to volunteer at GiGi’s Playhouse San Diego and is looking forward to growing the Playhouse and community!

Jeri Gurley, Vice President

Jeri is a former special education and regular education teacher. She's also a parent of twin sons, one of whom has Down syndrome. She heard about GiGi’s Playhouse on the news when the team was promoting the Donut Run in 2018 and started volunteering for GiGi’s shortly after. She has volunteered as a program assistant, served as the Literacy Program Coordinator, joined the Board of Directors as the Programs Chair, before continuing to Vice President. She was integral in launching the Literacy Tutoring Program, using her expertise as a former teacher to accomplish the program startup details. She has continued to find new ways to give her gifts and time to GiGi’s Playhouse to make it an incredible place for families.

Jennifer Candelario, Secretary

Jennifer worked as an athletic trainer and educator for over 15 years, and currently teaches at a high school in San Diego. She is very excited to be a leader at GiGi's Playhouse San Diego. As a parent of a son with Down syndrome and taking part in many of the programs offered, she joined the team in 2021 as Board Secretary. 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 supports the movement for 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 excited to serve as Treasurer and to be involved with the wonderful people in our community with Down syndrome and their families.

Karen Falk, Fundraising Committee Chair

Karen has worked as a civil engineer in both the public and private sector for over 20 years. Following the birth of her third child who has Down syndrome, she was looking for ways to support the Down syndrome community in San Diego. She joined the GiGi’s Playhouse startup team and eagerly led the team through the steps to open a Playhouse in San Diego before serving as President for several years. She focuses on fundraising now and 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 San Diego County.

April Villafana, Outreach Committee Chair

April lives in North County with her husband and two daughters, her older daughter has Down syndrome. April has been a volunteer at GiGi’s for many years, working as part of the startup team to open the first Playhouse in California. She is an active member of various special needs 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. She enjoys connecting with the community and supporting outreach activities. She also supports and advocates for the North County participants.

Volunteer Committee Chair – AVAILABLE

Ensure volunteers are trained and available for each program, with assistance from Site Coordinator. Ocassionally attend programs to ensure they are representing the playhouse well. Contact groups of volunteers as needed for events and programs.

Marketing Committee Chair – AVAILABLE

Manage all media interactions, PR, etc. including e-newsletters, Facebook posts, mail newsletters, blog posts, etc. and market all programs and events as needed by the other committees.

Events Committee Chair – AVAILABLE

Plan and oversee all events in the playhouse, including scheduling, food, activities.

Interested in one of our open Board Positions? Reach out to any Board Member or email sandiego@gigisplayhouse.org with questions.