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Our Team

Jason Allen
Operations Director

Jason is a lifelong learner having earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Louisville, MBA from Webster University, and a Master of Management from Briar Cliff University. He has served in various leadership positions throughout his professional career, most recently as a Director of Operations for another local nonprofit organization. He has trained countless youth and adults in the sport of Judo whose purpose is to perfect oneself in order to contribute to society.

Jason and his wife, Suzanne, have four children ranging in ages from 6-13 and one dog named George. They share the love of movies and a good road trip.

Jason also shared that his inspiration for taking the position was his niece Sawyer Rae, who is a participant at GiGi's Playhouse.

He started Monday, January 22nd as our Director of Operations and looks forward to serving our needs.

Rachel White

President
Gala Committee Chair

Many of you have probably seen Rachel around the Playhouse for the last two years. She previously worked part-time as the Program Coordinator here at GiGi’s Sioux City. She is married to her husband, Jim and has children, Cicily, Kellen, and MacGowan. (All busy preschoolers!)

She was first exposed to GiGi’s in 2004 or 2005 when a fellow teacher had GiGi’s Playhouse calendar hanging in her classroom in the Minneapolis suburb they worked in. “I thought it was the most beautiful calendar, showcasing individuals with Down syndrome. I ended up ordering one for myself and all of my family members. This continued the next couple years and my ears would always “perk up” every time I would hear the name GiGi’s Playhouse. To me it was always an inspired idea to have this place for individuals with Down syndrome.” We are so thankful that Rachel is willing to share her special education expertise at our Playhouse!

Matt Rixner

Vice President
Marketing Committee 

Matt Rixner is the Creative Services Director for KMEG 14 and FOX 44 where he oversees commercial production and station promotion and marketing for the stations. He’s also been actively involved in local theatre for the past 15 years.  His family consists of his wife, Lindsey, and twin daughters Sofie and Stella.

Matt’s reasons for getting involved with GiGi’s are very personal. Stella, his youngest (by one minute) daughter, has Down Syndrome. They did not have a prenatal diagnosis, so found themselves a little unprepared and undereducated when she was born. Stella had some other more pressing medical issues at birth, which have since been resolved, but when the dust settled, they felt very lucky to find that they had information from GiGi’s playhouse.  Several members of the staff and parents of kids who regularly attended had given them support and made them feel welcomed.

“I hope that in my time on the board of GiGi’s Playhouse, I can help to maintain and expand the awesome services that GiGi’s provides to children with special needs in Siouxland. I feel very welcome and fortunate to be part of such a great group, and I hope to give back what has been given to me.”

Jodi Speidel

Board Treasurer

Jodi Speidel is an Accountant in the Finance Department of Boys and Girls Home and Family Services for her daytime job. She received her BA in Accounting from Buena Vista College in Storm Lake. She has been involved in Junior League of Sioux City, Westlawn Presbyterian Church and volunteering with school committees. Her family consists of her husband, Paul and two daughters, Devaney and Callahan. Away from work Jodi enjoys crochet and crafts, learning to play golf, swimming, volunteering, spending time with family and cheering for the University of Nebraska – Go Big Red!

Jodi has been part of Gigi’s Playhouse since its inception as a parent of a child with Down Syndrome. “We did not know that our youngest, Callahan, had Down Syndrome until she was born, we had no prenatal diagnosis. We were unprepared and had many questions. The resources we have access to at Gigi’s has helped.” She and her family have been participants in several of the programs, activities and celebrations the Playhouse provides. Jodi was asked to join the Board as a parent and to share her accounting knowledge.
“I enjoy being able to use my accounting knowledge to help educate other Board members. Giving back and paying it forward for families following ours is important. I am hoping my involvement no matter how big can help others enjoy all that GiGi’s has to offer.”

Mary Motz 

Board Member 

Mary Motz is a retired teacher and principal from the Sioux City Community School District.  She taught at Emerson Elementary and in the Talented and Gifted Program for 14 years.  She was a principal for 14 years at Longfellow, Joy, Spalding Park, and most recently, Riverside Elementary. She earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Briar Cliff, a Masters’ Degree from Morningside, and Administration Degree from Wayne State College.   

She is married to Rick Motz, mother to three grown children, and grandmother to 5.  

She is extremely proud to be asked to serve on GiGi’s board and is thrilled to support an organization that provides such a valuable and caring service for the families of very special children!   

Sandra Burns

Sandra Burns is a local Physical Therapist that has spent the majority of her 20-year career working with children.     She’s had the great honor of working with numerous children with Down syndrome.  These brilliantly unique individuals have given Sandra so much joy, she is honored to be a member of the Gigi’s Board and perhaps, give back a little to this amazing community.  

Sandra was born is San Diego, CA.  She graduated from the University of San Diego with a BA in Biology. Following college, Sandra worked at Scripps Research Institute on the Human Genome Project.  While the work was rewarding, the test tubes never talked back… Sandra craved human interaction.  She went back to school, attending Des Moines University completing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.   

During her time in Des Moines, Sandra met her husband John.  Sandra and John married after graduation and have called Iowa home ever since. The two enjoy hiking, biking, running and travel.   

 

“ Through my involvement with Gigi’s Playhouse I hope to share awareness of this beautiful resource  throughout our community.  I want to let people know that the human potential is infinite. With kindness and RESPECT amazing dreams can be achieved.”  

Cindy Running

Cindy Running is the Clinical Practice Expert for Women’s and Children’s Services at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s. Born and raised in West-Central Minnesota, she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN and her Masters of Science in Nursing Administration from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. She has been involved in Children’s Miracle Network at St. Luke’s and Holy Cross Parish-St. Michaels Church as a choir member, cantor, and volunteer for Lenten fish dinners. Away from work Cindy enjoys crocheting and crafting, following her nieces and nephew’s sporting and school events, and exploring her adopted city.
Cindy started volunteering with Gigi’s Playhouse Gala Event in 2017. “I knew when I relocated to Sioux City that I would eventually become more involved in the community and working with GiGi’s fits perfectly with my love for children and the experiences I have had caring for children and families with Down Syndrome in the Neonatal Intensive Care units and Pediatric units I have worked in for the last 28 years.”

Kathie Petrie

Kathie Petrie is the office manager at the law firm of Moore, Heffernan, Moeller, Johnson and Meis, L.L.P. Originally from Minnesota, and a graduate of the University of Montana (B.S. Social Work) and Creighton University (BSN, MS), Kathie has lived in Sioux City since 1989.

Her first experience with differently-abled individuals came from the three years she spent living and sharing her life in a L'Arche Community in Missoula, Montana and she has always supported community living and inclusion for all people. Kathie is happy to be serving her first year on the Gigi's board.

Kathie has three grown children, three grandchildren and three little dogs. Kathie is married to Mark Bowden. They both enjoy travel, art, music and entertaining.