Playworks Arizona Advisory Board | Playworks

Playworks for every kid

Playworks Arizona Advisory Board

Joe Gaudio, Chair

Plan President/CEO, United HealthCare

Why I joined Playworks: Childhood obesity, bullying and challenging school environments are critical issues facing us today as a society with long term implications. I joined Playworks not only because the Playworks mission is clearly aligned to address these issues, but just as critical, I joined because of the passion and commitment of the Playworks staff to drive positive change. It’s one thing to read about the Playworks model, it’s entirely another to witness the model in action. Inclusion and smiles on the faces of the kids, laughing and playing, a safe and secure environment, improved attendance and academic performance; these are what I think of when I think about Playworks and its mission and why I joined.

My favorite recess game growing up was kickball.


Brett Angner, Vice Chair

Owner, Everyday Investments

Why I joined Playworks… great organization and I feel it is time we work collectively to make sure kids are provided environments to just be kids. 

My favorite recess game growing up was foursquare!


Jerry Acuff, Emeritus

CEO, Delta Point Inc.


Timothy Bidwill,  Emeritus

Vice President, Vermilion IDG

I joined Playworks because I wanted to be involved in an organization that not only provides an unmet need facing my community but one that's just downright fun. What's more fun than seeing kids playing games during school recess?

My favorite childhood playground game was kickball, because I was too short to shoot hoops, and the line for foursquare was too long.


Brett Adams

Director of Operations, Phoenix International Raceway

One opportunity to see the program playing out in the school recess yard was all it took. It’s an incredible opportunity to see the lives of kids changed in a positive way. I want to see the youth of today enjoy the outdoors and look forward to being outside on the playground, interacting with classmates. Playworks is all about making that happen.

My favorite recess game was bombardment with bowling pins and dodge balls. I can’t remember the rules, but do remember it was fun!


Zack Barna

Owner/CEO, BoomPromo

I joined the Playworks because I believe in the power of play and this organization is proving it on a daily basis. I was inspired by Playworks ability to create a safe and fun school environment that gives kids the opportunity to develop life skills through play.

My favorite recess game was basketball.


Justin Bayless

CEO, Bayless Healthcare Group

The reason I joined the Playworks board is because I believe in the mission and have seen the results first hand at Loma Linda. I believe that all children need to learn interpersonal “soft skills” that are just as important as their scholastic achievement. Playworks programs help students gain the much needed interpersonal skills and support to succeed in the future.

My favorite recess game was “Basketball Bump-Out”


Tricia Chiodo

CFO, American Traffic Solutions


Brent Demmitt

J.D. Candidate 2016, Arizona State University

I joined Playworks after seeing it in action. Every kid was active, courteous, and happy. As a parent of three kids, I know that is not the usual situation! A Playworks recess is truly recess at its best.

Twice a day for six years, my friends and I never played anything at recess but football, but we played kickball in gym class, and I loved it.


Daniel Feavel

National Sales Manager, YELP

I joined Playworks because of the tangible impact the program has on children in our community. Playworks empowers kids to resolve conflict, be considerate of their peers, and develop lasting leadership skills. Playworks works - and that's why I wanted to join.

My favorite recess games were football and basketball.

Bill Floyd

PresidentBreason, Inc.

I joined Playworks because fundamentally it works and makes a positive environment for kids. The philosophy is simple - have fun and be a kid! The result is a decrease in bullying and improvement in overall school climate. A “Win Win” for ALL!

My favorite recess game was foursquare.


Judi Gargiulo

Principal, JG Law

I joined Playworks because education changed my life.  Neither of my parents finished high school let alone attended college.  Despite them being bright people, they never seemed to recognize the importance of obtaining a good education.  Despite the lack of support or guidance from my parents, I somehow realized that obtaining an education was critical to my future success.  I was determined and committed, and I somehow managed to stumble my way all the way to obtaining a law degree.  Obtaining an education changed my life, and has provided me with many opportunities for myself and my children.  I love Playworks' commitment to making school a safe and fun environment for learning, and keeping children in school.  I look forward to being part of a team that makes those things happen. 

While there is hardly a recess game I don’t like, one of my favorites is “Simon Says.”  It seems so simple to follow directions and only do something that Simon says to do, but it quickly makes you realize how poor your listening skills can be when you do something that Simon did not say to do.  Great to test your listening skills and learn to laugh at your own mistakes.


Cynthia Hammersley

Vice President, Mediware


Joel Johnson

President East Valley, First Bank

I think that what you are doing is making a positive impact in the lives of every kid that you “touch”, and it is exciting for me to be able to become a steward/ambassador for what you are doing, with the hope of getting more attention for the organization to expand the mission. Also, I love being involved and active in the community.  Playworks is making a difference by promoting activities and an active lifestyle  - which make perfect sense to me, and I believe in the method and the cause!

My favorite recess activities were sports related - I was very active in sports when I was young, and I think recess was my first exposure to organizing those types of activities – baseball/basketball/football/soccer.  We learned to play those games at recess, and then played them all summer long.


Brian Moll

Attorney, Quarles & Brady

I joined Playworks because I was very impressed with the recess program after seeing it in person at one of the participating schools. 

My favorite recess game growing up was kickball.


Deb McLean

Broker, ReMax

I was introduced to Playworks by donating backpacks to them through the Phoenix Suns. I was impressed by the Playworks staff I met that day. Chuck invited me to Playworks breakfast and I learned just enough more about Playworks to get hooked! I want to be more involved and help Playworks grow in any way I can.

I like bandaid tag!


Jose Moreno 

Director of Community Relations and Charitable Giving, Fiesta Bowl

From the second I took a tour with Playworks at one of their schools, I was blown away by the program itself, but more so the kids and their involvement. I remember growing outside, never playing video games, rather always out and about and being as active as possible. I love knowing the Playworks is getting kids in the habit at an early age and breaking the lazy cycle, enforcing the importance of active play and character learning. I lived and breathed baseball growing up. I played it in the Arizona summer heat anytime of the day, especially with my friends during recess. It helped pay my way through college and it continues to be a big passion of mine.


Christopher Rude

VP, Commercial Banking, Arizona Business Bank

I picked Playworks as a nonprofit to get involved with based on the following: I have three young kids who have every advantage in the world and to see so many other young people who are starting their lives at such a disadvantage is heartbreaking. These kids didn’t put themselves in their situations so providing them with a path and guidance to be the best they can be is pretty powerful. Also, Playworks' stats are unreal. I’ve worked with many nonprofits and none have come close to impacting as many kids. It's also filled with great people.

My favorite recess games were soccer and foursquare.


Brenton Smith

Partner, The Kobold Group

Well, what peaked my interest was the focus on the soft skills and emotional intelligence with the kids. As I am looking at hiring from out of college that is really first on my list. You can teach most people how to run numbers, spreadsheets, etc. but being able to interact with one another is something I highly value and extremely hard to teach once someone gets older.

Coming from North Dakota, we would play hockey, both floor hockey and boot hockey on the ice rink for recess.


Will Spong

Senior Vice President, Lovitt-Touche

My exposure to Play Works was at the annual kickoff breakfast at Talking Stick Arena in Downtown Phoenix.  I was blown away at the impact that Play Works has already had on our community and your overall success with our children both today and more importantly as tomorrow leaders.  The proof is in the results and I want to be part of helping to grow your presence in the Valley!


Kerry Swarr 

Director of Human CapitalUrban Teacher Center

I originally joined the board at Playworks Baltimore. When my family relocated to Arizona, I knew that Playworks was launching a new site in Phoenix. I wanted to stay involved. My background is in public, urban education, and I’m an avid runner. I’ve seen the benefits to kids both socially and physically having daily organized recess and how it makes kids more ready to learn when they are back in the classroom. What a winning combination.

My favorite games growing up were SPUD and ghost in the graveyard. I’m planning to learn foursquare.


Mike Swayda

VP Business Development, Mobile Mini Inc.


Mike Theile

Senior Vice President, Alliance Bank

I was sold on the Playworks concept upon my first visit with Chuck Warshaver to a local elementary school to see first-hand the positive impact that Playworks is having on the young children it serves. As the father of four boys, I have heard some of the stories of what really can happen on the playground where kids are too often bullied or left out. I feel fortunate to be part of such a great organization that is changing young lives every day.

Growing up, my favorite playground activities were football and dodgeball.


Jennifer Behan-Thompson

Assistant Vice President, FirstWestern Trust

I joined Playworks because I saw a need from the kids in our community that Playworks was filling with an opportunity. I wanted to be part of the movement to make a difference in these children’s lives and to assure that they receive the skills and opportunities to achieve greatness in life!

My favorite recess game growing up was tag, you’re it!


Adam Turner

Director of Partner Alliances, Arizona Credit Union

I joined Playworks to make an impact in my community based on your mission. The playground was a driving factor of my successes in my life.

My favorite game was dodgeball with a twist. Half- court shot won the game….


Kelly Williams

Executive Vice President of Operations, Mobile Mini Inc.

When I moved to the Phoenix area from Indianapolis, I wanted to find an organization that I could get involved with that positively impacted children’s lives. Playworks has demonstrated the ability to change the typical school climate through inclusion, positive reinforcement, and conflict resolution. The anti-bullying message is one that I am truly passionate about and I am excited about the opportunity to involve in such a truly impactful organization.

My favorite recess game growing up was kickball! It actually brings a smile to my face thinking about playing the game as a youngster.