Staff and Leadership | Playworks

Playworks for every kid

Staff and Leadership

Chuck Warshaver
Executive Director

Committed to developing the next generation of leaders, Chuck currently serves on several for profit and non-profit boards and is a certified mentor for SCORE. He prides himself on his commitment to culture and community and has served on the Special Olympics Development and ADL boards. Chuck takes times to coach special needs kids and is a Big Brother.

Chuck's entrepreneurial experience spans the development and design of several unique product lines and product patents. His expertise include marketing, merchandising and brand development with vendors and major customers where highlights include the successfully negotiated sale of his mattress company’s QVC private label brand in 2007 and the sale of his company in July 2010.

He resides with his wife, Shari in Scottsdale, Arizona. Chuck's oldest daughter Ally lives in Phoenix and is an Account Manager at Goodman's Interiors and his youngest daughter Liza lives in Phoenix and is an Account Executive for American Express.

Chuck joined Playworks because he believes in their mission and vision to bring the power of play to all children! And he wants to make a real difference! Play on!

Amber Johnson
Program Director
Amber Johnson began her Playworks journey in 2010 as an AmeriCorps Program Coordinator for Playworks Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she moved to Boston hoping to pursue a position working with underprivileged youth in a diverse community.  Wearing many hats, Amber has had the joy of serving in 3 different roles (PC, PA & PM) in 3 different cities while at Playworks!  Additionally, she has attended Recess Rollouts in Oklahoma, Houston and Indianapolis! 
 
Prior to Playworks, Amber spent many years volunteering and providing consulting to Inclusive Communities and the National Conference for Community and Justice where she served as a facilitator of human relations and leadership programs promoting diversity and cultural awareness for 9th-12th grade students.  Her passion towards inclusion and providing youth positive role models led her to launch a startup mentoring program, OutMentor, in 2014.
 
Amber is thrilled to rejoin the Arizona team as a Program Director, bringing with her a passion for peace, play, and karaoke!
Kara Largent
Partnerships Director

Born and raised in Phoenix, Kara spent the first fifteen years of her career in public education, first as a teacher then Assistant Principal and finally Principal. She received her Bachelors in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University and her Masters in Education Administration & Supervision from Arizona State University. Kara first heard about Playworks as a news story on the radio driving in to school one day during her first year as a Principal. She was so excited about the program she called Playworks Arizona that same day for more information. Kara believed in the power of Playworks so much she spent two years working to bring the Playworks TeamUp Program to her school. She saw the benefits first hand with the change in her students and her staff. Her career focus has always been to make a difference for kids and the community—she is thrilled to now be able to do that with Playworks! In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and trying new adventures with her husband and two kids.

Regina LaPlante
Senior Development Associate

Regina joined the Playworks Arizona team in November of 2013, starting out as Program Associate and recently transitioning to Development Associate. An Arizona native, she received her Master’s degree in Secondary Education at Arizona State University in 2011. Prior to joining Playworks, Regina was the Program Coordinator for a local non-profit managing after school programs for at-risk youth. She has a passion for helping youth succeed inside and outside of the classroom and enjoys her new role as Senior Development Associate in which she is able to help facilitate Playworks growth in Arizona.

Britta O'Connor
Development Associate

Britta O'Connor joined the Playworks Arizona team in June of 2014 as the program associate and has since transitioned into the role of development associate. She is an Arizona native and a graduate of the Univeristy of Arizona (Beardown) where she studied Psychology and History. Prior to Playworks, as the Charities Coordinator for the Phoenix Suns, Britta helped produce their fundraising efforts and was able to give back to non-profit organizations across the state. This is where she discovered Playworks and ultimately fell in love with its mission to provide safe & healthy play for all children, every day.

Britta is also an active member of the Valley of the Sun Active 20/30 Club, where she serves at the Assistant Vice President of Fundraising allowing her to exercise her passion for not only giving back to the community but event planning. In her free time, Britta enjoys traveling with her family, attending country concerts and playing dress up with her pet bunny, Oliver (whom does not share the same enthusiam for this 'hobby').

John Hopper
Program Manager
John joined the Playworks family in March of 2014, beginning as a program coordinator before stepping up to the site coordinator position. As a site coordinator, John was responsible for piloting the new Playworks TeamUp service, empowering four Creighton schools to successfully implement Playworks with his consultative support. Building on his success as a program/site coordinator, John is absolutely thrilled to be starting out the 2016-17 school year as the newest program manager for Playworks Arizona!
 
John's upbringing played a major role in his initial interest in Playworks. He was born in a rough part of Detroit, Michigan but moved to Phoenix at a young age with his mother. Though John grew up in Phoenix, he spent his summers in Detroit visiting his father where he was exposed to less fortunate walks of life. These visits led to John's desire to help impoverished communities. 
 
During his free time, John enjoys indulging in hip-hop music, fitness, films, and cuddling with his Bengal cat, appropriately named Hobbes.
Devon DeLaLuz
Program Manager
Devon has served as an AmeriCorps member through Playworks since 2014 and is now taking on the role of program manager. As an AmeriCorps member, Devon has gained valuable skills that give her insight into the population Playworks serves every day. 
 
Coming from a small town in Michigan, Devon has always had a passion for being active and helping those in need. In the past, she has mentored at-risk youth, coached developmental sports leagues, and co-organized community engagement events. 
 
In her free time Devon enjoys exploring the outdoors, spending time with friends, and Michigan Football—GO BLUE!!
Alex Sachs
Program Manager

Alex is originally from Brazil, but grew up in New Jersey and France. She played soccer for the Brazilian Women’s National team for 11 years was a silver medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. She was inducted to the Brazilian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005; only 4 female soccer players have had that honor. She’s a gold medalist in the 2007 Pan American Games and retired from play that same year.

For the past 10 years she has worked at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center in Scottsdale in different capacities, as the Sports Director and Camp Director. She also owned and operated a company called Itty Bitty Sports, which taught basic sports fundamentals for preschoolers throughout the Valley and City of Phoenix community centers. Presently she is the program director for KEEN (Kids Enjoying Exercise Now) a national, nonprofit volunteer-led organization that provides one-to-one recreational opportunities for children and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities. Alex is excited to be a Program Manager with Playworks and is looking forward to being a part of an organization that makes a different in children’s’ lives.

Kari Taylor
Program Manager

Kari was born and raised in Iowa and moved to Arizona in 2006 after earning a degree in elementary education from Buena Vista University. In her first six years in Arizona, she was an elementary school teacher. Although she enjoyed working with younger students, she wanted to broaden her experience and that is when she found Playworks.

Kari joined Playworks Arizona in 2012 as a Coach at Loma Linda Elementary School in the Creighton School District. After that first year, she progressed into a program manager position to support the growth at Playworks Arizona. She is now in her fourth year as a program manager. She loves working with kids and helping her team grow each and every day to support more kids with safe and healthy play. Her favorite component of Playworks' programming is the Junior Coach Leadership Program and she is proud to have been a part of writing the curriculum for it.

Kari enjoys being an active member in the community. She is currently a member of the Arizona Business Education Coalition, an active member in the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, and a master coach with Aspire Program (After School Program Innovation, Reflection Education Project).

Kari is passionate about the communities that Playworks serves. Promoting positive youth development has been the driving force throughout her career, which is why she loves working for an organization that believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors, and shopping.

Madolyn Whitmer
Program Associate

Madolyn is so excited to join the Playworks team as a program and development associate. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Arizona State University, where she spent much of her time creating and performing original works. In addition to her passion for the theatrical arts, her other love has always been working with children. She has worked with kids of all ages as a theatre specialist, summer camp and after-school counselor, gym/dance instructor, and recently as a teacher and social media and marketing manager for ARTS ALIVE!, a creative movement program based out of Houston. In her free time, Madolyn loves to read, go to the movies, write, and spend time with her family.

Heather Checky
Program Specialist

Heather began her journey with Playworks Arizona in 2011 as a development and fundraising intern. She fell in love with the Playworks mission and became a program coordinator in 2012 for Playworks Texas. After spending a year in Texas, Heather transferred her love of play to Playworks Massachusetts where she resumed being a coach from 2013-2015. Wanting to trade her snow boots in for flip-flops, Heather transferred to Playworks Arizona as a program coordinator for the 2015-2016 school year.

After four years as a coach, five different schools, and three different cities Heather is excited to move into the program specialist role.

In her spare time Heather enjoys floating on a raft in her pool, hanging out with her family, and reading.

Rhett Etherton
Pro Trainer

Rhett Etherton is a national trainer based out of the Playworks Arizona office. Rhett first experienced Playworks Arizona as a classroom teacher. After witnessing the positive impact the program had on his students, he decided to join the Playworks team. After coaching for 4 years in both Arizona and Colorado, he became site coordinator and empowered staff at four different Arizona schools to implement safe and healthy play at recess. He became a national trainer in 2016. Rhett holds a BA in multilingual multicultural elementary education and is a certified trainer of the Nurtured Heart Approach—an approach that builds authentic relationships with youth while increasing their self-esteem. He is originally from Grand Island, Nebraska and enjoys yoga during his free time.

Ashley Marengo
Site Coordinator

Ashley jumped on the Playworks Arizona team in 2014. She spent her first two years as a program coordinator for the Loma Linda Lancers. Prior to Playworks she received her BS in Exercise Sports Science from The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma where she developed a passion for children's fitness.

Ashley enjoyed teaching fitness through play for 3 years at The Little Gym. She now loves showing children how play can impact their lives physically, mentally, and socially in our Playworks Arizona schools. In her free time, you can find her exercising, dancing, and hiking with her tiny family of 3.
Kelsey Rendelman
Site Coordinator

Kelsey developed a deep passion for working with youth during a volunteer opportunity as a teen and has been dedicating herself to the nonprofit sector ever since.

Kelsey joined Playworks as a program coordinator in 2013 and was selected to pilot the TeamUp service as a site coordinator with four schools in 2015. Now a senior site coordinator, Kelsey hopes to continue to inspire and empower adults in school communities all over Arizona to provide safe and healthy play for every kid.

In her free time, Kelsey enjoys volunteer work, hiking, camping, live music, and spending time with loved ones.

Nicholas Giasullo
Site Coordinator

Ever since he was a kid growing up in Massachusetts, Nick always dreamed of being a superhero. His dream came true in 2014 when he joined Playworks MA.

Nick graduated from UMass Lowell in 2014 where he volunteered with AmeriCorps in a preschool literacy program called JumpStart. His former site manager from JumpStart showed him a video about being a Playworks Coach, and Nick immediately sent in his resume. He finished the school year as a coach in Lawrence where he remained for two more years before joining Playworks Arizona as a site coordinator.

In his spare time Nick can be found playing hockey, writing stories, telling jokes, and fighting crime with the power of play!

Daniel Taylor
Site Coordinator

After starting his journey with Playworks in 2014 as an AmeriCorps member, Daniel has transitioned to site coordinator. Prior, he worked at an after school program teaching younglings the ways of sports.

Born in California but raised in South Phoenix, Daniel is no stranger to the troubles that face the younglings he is now charged with teaching the ways of the "Works". 
 
In his spare time you can catch Daniel playing basketball, listening to music, and training to become a Playworks Master like those before him. In the words of his Master Obi-Wan Warshaver, "May the Play be with you."
Kenrick Escalanti
Site Coordinator

Kenrick is one of the newest team members with Playworks Arizona as the site coordinator for the city of Yuma. Kenrick was born in Yuma and raised on the Fort Yuma Quechan reservation as an enrolled citizen of the Quechan Indian Tribe. Prior to joining the Playworks family, Kenrick worked with Department of Defense US Army Yuma Proving Ground for nearly 10 years with their Visual Information department. Within those years Kenrick worked directly with the Proving Ground's Command Group. Kenrick also earned a Bachelors degree from the Art Institute of California San Diego, where he spent seven years living and working in San Diego, CA as a creative director for two print publications. 

Overall, Kenrick's passion is public service. Kenrick has been involved with non-profit organizations that serve the welfare of children since his days in high school serving as president of his high school's nonprofit, The Strong Hearts Native Society. Since then Kenrick has served on several local boards, most recently with the Bully Rehab Awareness Gym, better known as BRAG Inc. Kenrick joined a collective of local Yuma leaders to organize and mobilize a One Stop Shop for safe and healthy play at the grassroots level. The Bully Rehab Awareness Gym serves low-moderate income families by providing a safe after-school recreational center for Yuma youth with activities such as USA Boxing, USA Wrestling, USA Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Spartan Obstacle Course Training.

Kenrick is beyond excited to take his love for public service and utilize it within the Playworks organization because he strongly believes that every child deserves safe and healthy play every day!

Berlin McGinn
Site Coordinator

Berlin McGinn has always dreamed of making a difference in the lives of children, and her dream came true in 2015 when she joined the Playworks Arizona family. Since starting with Playworks, Berlin has transitioned from a flex coordinator to a program coordinator and is presently a site coordinator. Prior to Playworks, Berlin worked at a nonprofit summer camp for children and adults with special needs while attending Grand Canyon University during the school year. Berlin is very excited to have found a program where she gets to inspire and empower those around her to bring out the best in themselves every day. In her spare time, Berlin can be seen rock climbing, reading, hiking, playing games, or spending time with loved ones.

Katie Mather
Site Coordinator

Katie joined the Arizona team in 2014 shortly after graduating from ASU. She has always had a heart for service, and after learning about Playworks' vision and the impact Playworks was having on Phoenix communities, she wanted to get involved. She initially joined as an Americorps member and had the pleasure of working with Emerson Elementary School for two wonderful years. She is now incredibly excited to help transform 4 schools across Arizona as a site coordinator. Before becoming a part of the Playworks family, Katie had fun and varied experiences working with children of all ages both volunteering with Girl Scouts and as an employee at Build-a-bear and Disneyland. In her free time, Katie enjoys traveling, volunteering, finding new music to listen to, watching TED Talks, and learning about history and culture.

Sergio Gonzalez Jr.
Site Coordinator

Sergio Gonzalez Jr. was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Before Sergio joined Playworks, he worked at a Boys and Girls Club for two years and was a jack-of-all-trades. Prior to that, Sergio played college basketball at South Mountain Community College and Union College. Joining Playworks was a blessing. Sergio's first school was Creighton Elementary and he served that school in 2013. The reason Sergio joined Playworks is because it gives him the opportunity and the platform to make a difference in the community where he grew up. When he sees the kids, he sees himself. Sergio thinks the best part of working at Playworks is being that positive person that makes a difference at schools and helps to change the culture. Sergio's hobbies are playing basketball and hanging out with his childhood friends.