Our Faculty


Laura. O. Martin

Founder, Board Chairman

Laura is founder of the organization Playgroup in the Park (PGiP) at Glen Echo National Park.  She is currently the Director, Pedagogista and Atelierista. Laura holds a B.A. in Political Science and minor in 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.



Katie Fioravanti

Lead Facilitator

Katie Fioravanti holds a baccalaureate degree in studio art from Gettysburg College, a Master’s degree in community health nursing and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in nursing, both from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Fioravanti also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Though her field is public health, she has been an educator of students of all ages – from 3 to 63 – and has taught art, English and various courses in international health in a variety of settings including Mayan villages in the Yucatan Peninsula; Santiago, Chile; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Manila, Philippines; and a further 8 years at Georgetown University.




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Sarah Nichols

Director of Programming and Admissions, Lead Facilitator

Sarah graduated from the University of Florida in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Sarah moved to Washington, DC for a graduate program in Social Research at American University. Sarah began her career working with children 10 years ago as a swim instructor and lifeguard for the YMCA. Sarah continued volunteering with children in college with organizations such as Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and Best Buddies. Sarah has been a facilitator at PGiP for 2 years, working with Little Echoes and Playgroup. There is nothing more rewarding than engaging with children and seeing the excitement when children have fun learning and experiencing something new!



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Jessica Horwitz

Director of Operations

Jessica Horwitz participated in Playgroup with her son, Grant, during the 2011-2012 school year. Jessica has been trained in strategies of the Hanen Program to encourage communication skills in young children and loves exploring the outdoors. She comes from a background of account management in the political arena with a BS in sociology and political science from Virginia Tech. She is originally from Long Island, NY and has lived in the DC area for the past 10 years






Millie Webb

Millie Webb earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru. The National University of San Marcos is one of the most important and respected higher-education institutions in Peru. It consistently ranks among the top two universities in the country. Millie moved to the United States to continue her education in 2006. She began taking care of children a couple of years later and found enjoyment in this new career. She then decided to work directly with families in the Washington DC area taking great care of their babies and children. Millie also worked at Kentlands Children Center in 2010. Millie took courses for early stimulation, CPR and First Aid for babies and children. She enjoyed all of these years playing and learning with Children. Millie also participates at the quilting group of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frederick where she is member. The quilts are made to help poor people around the world. Millie enjoys her free time doing crafts, reading a good book, watching a comedy movie and spending time with her husband.


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Kris daCosta-Warshauer


Kris daCosta-Warshauer, a transplant from Rhode Island, has a BA degree from Bloomsburg University of PA and a Masters from Gallaudet University.  Kris has taught in a variety of settings for 15 years including teaching internships with deaf pre-school and elementary students using Reggio-inspired activities, tutoring hearing parents of deaf children in reading aloud using ASL, props and real life applications, teaching American Sign Language (HS, college, adult continuing ed, conference workshops), and coaching sign language interpreters working in mainstream classes. A mother of 3-year old son, she is a parent alumni of the Playgroup in the Park.  PGP was an invaluable experience bonding and discovering the wonders, curiosity, trials of frustrations, sparks, delights in her son.






Helen Schneider