Our Board of Directors
Our vision Contagious Inspiration, to inspire, to inspire, to inspire…
Our mission To create collaborative communities that connect families, inspire parents and motivate children’s exploration.
Laura is founder of the organization PGiP (Playgroup in the Park) at Glen Echo National Park. She is currently the Head of School, Pedagogista and Atelierista. Laura holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Purdue University, and a M.Ed. from National Louis University in Heidelberg, Germany. Her thesis, “Building a Bridge between Parents and Pedagogy.” was the starting point for Playgroup in the Park. Laura participated in a Reggio Emilia Study tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy and has applied the Reggio approach as a parent for the past 13 years. In addition she is Montessori Apparatus Certified from the Montessori Centre International in London, England. She taught Summer Connections at a Reggio Emilia inspired Preschool in Washington, DC. The first Play Group she organized was in Charlotte, NC. Laura had the wonderful experience to live in many places; Heidelberg, Germany, London, England, NYC, Charlotte, Boston, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and has spent a great deal of time in San Francisco and Dallas. Before children she was Director of Training for Keep America Beautiful, founded and managed a boutique consulting firm, Impact Training, was Manager/Retail Trainer for Franklin Covey and Materials Manager for DuPont. Laura lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her two children.
Chiara Goodyear lives in Rockville, MD with her husband, two sons and soon to arrive baby girl. Chiara credits Playgroup in the Park with helping to acclimate her to the MD/DC area after moving from Brooklyn, NY in 2010, She continues to practice law for her NY law firm on a part-time basis.
Kristen Farmen received a B.A. in Economics from Connecticut Collage and M.As in Early Childhood Education/Special Education and Child Development from GW University. She has worked as a Case Manager and Diagnostician for the DC Public Schools and as a Learning Specialist for Georgetown Day School. Kristen has also worked as a Media Strategist with OMD in New York. Kristen holds a real estate license with TTR Sotherby’s and on the annual Gala committee for Rachael’s Women’s Center. She started Playgroup with her daughter Lindley in 2011 and currently attends with Lindley and her son Palmer. Kristen and her family live in Northwest DC.
Tom Lewis is a stay-at-father whose two children, Thomas Joseph, aged 4, and Adelaide, aged 2 attended Playgroup in the Park. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and has experience in Small Business Development, Translation, and Web Development. He is an avid lover of music and played in several local bands before embarking on parenthood.
Pamela Southerling holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a M.S. from American University in Health and Fitness Management with a focus in health promotion. In 1996, Pamela founded her own heath and fitness consulting business and since that time has developed nutrition, fitness, and specialized training programs for men and women of all ages and abilities. Pamela devotes a significant part of her overall practice to working with women and female athletes focusing on specific health and fitness issues unique to women. As a nationally recognized athlete, Pamela’s consulting business naturally includes developing sport specific nutrition and training programs for her clients. Currently she coaches athletes of all experience levels to reach their particular goals in the sports of triathlon, swimming, cycling, mountain biking, running, tennis, golf, and soccer. Pamela is a regular speaker at triathlon clinics and events in the Mid-Atlantic region and conducts health and wellness seminars and consulting services to Fortune 500 companies and universities in the Washington DC metropolitan area.
Along with her twin sons Alex and Wyatt, Mary has been a part of the Playgroup community since 2011. Through playgroup, her sons have taught her that lentils have many uses besides eating them, the skills required to build exceedingly tall towers, and how much fun one can have with a salad spinner and paint. Before she became a mom, Mary was Counsel on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She has also worked at the Central Intelligence Agency and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Mary received a BA from Yale University and a JD from the University of Virginia. When she is not chasing around two toddlers, Mary enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, and blogging.
Nedda Lewers is currently fulfilling her life long position as Mom to 7 year old Lucy and 19 month old Violet. Originally from New York she moved to Bethesda with her family two years ago when she was pregnant with Violet. Violet and Nedda have been part of the Playgroup community since Violet was 3 months old and attended the weekly Infants group. In the Fall of 2013 they began attending Playgroup on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and can’t wait to return to the group again this September. Nedda holds a Masters Degree in Education from Bank Street College and has worked with young children and their families since 2001. She looks forward to returning to the education field as Violet gets older and consulting with early childhood programs in the area on supporting and meeting the needs of all young learners in their classrooms.
Sharon Cady is a stay-at-home mom to her two ½ year old daughter, Ainsley, and her almost five month old son Steven. Prior to Ainsley’s birth Sharon taught for three years at The Langley School in McLean, Virginia. There she was a reading specialist for junior kindergarten through fifth grade and taught science to fourth and fifth graders. Before coming to Langley, she taught for five years at Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Alexandria, Virginia. There she was a reading specialist for junior kindergarten through fifth grade and taught science to second and third graders. Sharon holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from George Washington University and a M.Ed. with a concentration in Reading from the University of Virginia. Ainsley attended playgroup in the Park during the 2012-2013 school year. Steven will be attending Playgroup for Infants this fall and hopes to continue with Playgroup the next school year. Sharon is so pleased to have found Playgroup for her family.
Robert Achtmeyer grew up in the Boston area. After moving to Washington, DC with his wife Kate in 2006, Rob taught humanities and was a Grade Dean at the Maret School in Woodley Park. After teaching for ten years, both in Boston, as well as at Maret, Rob became a stay-at-home dad in 2010. Additionally, he serves the City of Rockville, MD as a Commissioner for the Historic District. He has served on the boards of Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society, the Concord Museum in Concord, MA, and the Lawrence Academy Board of Visitors. He was a Playgroup in the Park parent from 2010-2012. Rob lives in Rockville, MD with his wife and two boys.
Jon is a father of three who has attended Playgroup in the Park with his kids since the year after it started. He loves watching each of his children explore the classroom in his own way and learn from Playgroup’s environment. Jon’s diverse background includes environmental work, hands-on animal rescue, an MBA, and several entrepreneurial ventures in the technology and health care sectors. He enjoys travel, food, and photography. Jon and his wife, Sarah, live with their family in Washington, D.C.
Flavia Malheiro 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.
Marion Goldman is excited to be a part of the Playgroup in the Park community as both a parent and a member of the faculty. She earned her MS in Case Management Nursing from Samuel Merritt College in California, focusing on the bringing together of the medical milieu and families with extremely ill children. Her undergraduate work at Kenyon College emphasized attachment theory in early childhood development with a concentration in neuroscience. She has more than twenty years of experience working with children enjoys sharing that knowledge everyday.
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.”
Liz Katsaros and Micheal Katsaros
Liz Katsaros considers herself a native Marylander, even though she was born in Minnesota and moved around the country several times. Her roots, as she remembers, have always been in the DC, Bethesda and Potomac areas. After graduating from Villanova University, (where she met her husband Michael) Liz spent most of her career working in the entertainment industry. She honed her skills in NYC handling marketing, promotion and PR events for record labels, film studios, and the like. Her fast paced time in the big apple helped prepare her for her current endeavor as a professional apple slicer and award winning child wrangler. Moving “back home” has been exciting for the Katsaros family and Liz enjoys bringing her two daughters to her old stomping grounds, including Glen Echo Park.
Michael and Liz Katsaros are thrilled to share their knowledge and interest in fundraising in the role of Development chairs. They look forward to expanding the reach of Playgroup in the Park.