Our Advisors


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Pam Diener, Occupational Therapist

Pam, a developmental neuroscientist and licensed pediatric Occupational Therapist of 25+ years, is a Professor at Marymount University – School of Health Professions, Department of Physical Therapy in Arlington, VA and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University – School of Medicine. She teaches Neuroscience, Gross Anatomy and Research-Related seminar classes to students receiving a doctorate in Physical Therapy or an M.D.. Pam received her B.S. in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University, an M.S. in Applied Anatomy and Physiology from Boston University and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Georgetown University. Pam has practiced as a therapist in multiple private practices, rehabilitation and acute care pediatric hospitals such as Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. as well as others in NC and MA.   Pam serves on the Scientific Review Board of the International Rett Syndrome Foundation and is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Society for Neuroscience. She is dedicated to helping children with moderate to profound neurologic disorders to recover motor skills through the use of enriched or activity-based exercises. Pam’s hobbies include baking (specializing in nut-free and dairy-free recipes), photography, and sewing/knitting/needlepointing. She resides in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and two children.


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Emily Carmody, Speech Therapist

Emily Carmody received her BSED in Communication Disorders from the University of Virginia and her MA in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Maryland. She currently holds her Certificate of Clinical Competency through the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. Upon graduating from Maryland, she lived in New England for eight years, where she gained various pediatric experiences in the public school system, private and outpatient medical clinics, and, ultimately, her own private practice. After moving back down south in 2009, Emily heard about Playgroup in the Park from a friend and began the second year of the program with her son, Matthew. She returned for the 2012-13 program year with her third child, Harrison. As an Advisor, she hopes to be a resource for the PGIP faculty and families in addition to modeling language-rich opportunities within the classroom environment. Emily and her family live in Falls Church, VA




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Erinn Walsh, Literacy Specialist

Erinn Walsh is a native Washingtonian, mother of three, and former Playgroup in the Park parent. She got her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and her certification in Elementary Education from Duke University. After graduation, Erinn was selected for a Duke teaching fellowship at the International School of Brussels. There she taught First grade and English as an Additional Language (EAL). Upon returning to Washington D.C., Erinn began teaching at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, a model program in museum-based learning. She started as lead teacher for the two year old class and then spent two years co-teaching the Kindergarten class. Erinn decided to pursue her interest in early reading development, getting her Masters in Reading from the University of Virginia. During this time, she worked individually with struggling readers at LearningRx in Bethesda and tutored privately. Erinn has spent the last four years teaching at The Episcopal Center for Children, a program for emotionally troubled children, and is now the school’s Reading Specialist.



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Kathy Herman

Kathleen Herman, former director of admission at Washington Episcopal School, is a third generation Washingtonian. She graduated from the University of Maryland. She taught at Highland View Elementary School in Silver Spring, St. Albans Summer School and CCBC Children’s Center. She has three grown children, six grandchildren and lives with her husband Paul in Bethesda, MD.







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Rita Turner

Rita Turner is a native of Porto Alegre, Brasil. In Porto Alegre, she started working as a babysitter at 13 years of age. Caring for kids was almost natural to her as she got her initial practice from taking care of her own siblings. She found herself nurturing them without even thinking about. Her mom recognized her gift very early in life and would say, “Rita loves kids.” This would eventually be her life passion as a nanny. Since arriving to America, Rita has served as a nanny for 30 years. Her passion is seeing little children evolve into the people they were destined to be. She considers herself very fortunate because it has equally made her into the person she is today. She recently published her first book, “The Heart of a Nanny,” a valuable tool for the nanny and caregiver community. In her book, she shares personal and professional tips compiled from her 30-year experience working as a nanny in Brazil and America. She is currently working on her second book which speaks directly to parents on how to find the right nanny for their children. Rita is married and lives in Silver Spring, MD.



Rocky Galloway

Rocky is an Account Executive for information technology services companies in the public sector.  He brings a strong business background in technology, sales/marketing and project management to the board of Playgroup in the Park.  Rocky holds both an electrical engineering degree and law degree from Howard University.  He is a Fellow of the Southern Africa-United States Centre for Leadership and Public Values which promotes the concepts of servant-based and principle-centered leadership in civil society.  Rocky is a board member of Rainbow Families DC, a non-profit organization providing outreach and support services to LGBT parents and prospective parents.
Rocky and his family were part of the second year class of Playgroup in the Park.  He describes his Playgroup in the Park experience as “a fun, stimulating way for my children and I to explore and learn together through play.”






Flavia Facio

Flavia Malheiro Facio was born in Sao Paulo, Brasil, and has lived in ten different cities across four countries and three continents.  She holds a B.S. in Biology from Eckerd College, and an M.S. in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College.  She began her career in 2001 as a Clinical Genetic Counselor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.  In 2004 Flavia took a position at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland focusing on clinical research.  She became a leading force behind one of the first studies to use whole genome sequencing technology as a way to further understand the contribution of genetics to human health and disease.  Throughout her career Flavia has been involved with teaching at the graduate level, most recently serving as Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.  In 2012 Flavia put her full time career on hold to tend to her other passion – being the mother of her two lovely girls!  She remains involved in her profession, publishing in the scientific literature and speaking at invited events.  She is an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, most recently serving as chair of their Public Policy Committee.  She is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Sarah Lawrence College Human Genetics Program.  Elected to Playgroup in the Park’s Board of Directors in the fall of 2012, Flavia serves as co-hair of the New Programs Committee.


Allison Fedlam

Allison Fedlam

Allison  is a native Washingtonian and former Playgroup parent. She holds a B.A. in English from Roanoke College. Allison has more than a decade of experience in education, beginning her career at the progressive New Canaan Country School in New Canaan, CT as a second grade classroom teacher and mentor in the school’s Horizons academic enrichment program. Her career led her to Vermont, where she worked as a lead pre-kindergarten teacher for several years at the Montessori-inspired Heartworks School. Moving back to the DC area in 2007, Allison taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at fghThe Primary Day School in Bethesda, MD. Throughout her career, Allison has focused her graduate studies at St. Michael’s College (VT) and Marymount University (VA) on differentiated learning styles and the theory of multiple intelligences.
Allison is thrilled to be an Advisor for Playgroup and to be part of its close-knit community – she often describes the year she spent attending Playgroup with her daughter as a magical experience. Allison lives in Chevy Chase, MD with her husband Dave (also a native Washingtonian), her daughter Harper, and another baby girl due to arrive in mid-November.





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Helena Barringer, MCPS Teacher

Helena Barringer is a National Board Certified Teacher in MCPS. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University and the Johns Hopkins University. Helena has taught in MCPS for 17 years, teaching Pre-kindergarten and First Grade. She currently teaches reading at Wayside ES in Potomac. Helena lives in Bethesda with her husband and three sons.







Francesca Mengarelli, Social Worker

Francesca is a social worker with a specific interest and competencies in childhood development and mental health.  A native of Italy, Francesca has lived in the Washington DC area for over 20 years, where she and her husband have raised two daughters. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work Master program. Following a year-long internship at the Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children, she is now an elementary and middle school counselor in the area.