Staff and Leadership | Playworks

Playworks for every kid

Staff and Leadership

Deborah Lukovich
Executive Director

Deborah is a passionate entrepreneur, author, and community leader motivated by making a difference. Her eternal optimism, focus on possibilities, and strategic thinking is why some people call her the cheerleader for nonprofits and why her most repeated testimonial is "You make us feel like we can do this!"

After 11 years of helping more than 70 nonprofits and schools do a better job of inspiring people with their stories in order to build awareness, secure resources, and achieve enrollment goals, Deborah is excited to focus all her passion, talent, and connections on Playworks Wisconsin.

Before striking out on her own, Deborah built a successful financial planning practice with American Express, and then worked as the Development Manager for the National MS Society, WI Chapter.

Deborah has served as community leader and volunteer, positively contributed to many organizations, including President of Milwaukee and WI National Organization for Women, founding board member of Milwaukee Renaissance Academy charter school, president of The Park People, Inc., founder of Friends of Bradford Beach, and founder of Women’s Political Voice.

Her 20 years of speaking and training experience and authoring of two books is a reflection of her interest in inspiring others to achieve more than they think they can. Her most recent books include The Secret to Better Schools; A New Mindset For Engaging the Community and The Secret to Fundraising; It’s NOT About Asking for Money.

PJ Dever
Program Director

PJ joined the Playworks family in 2010 as a program coordinator in Philadelphia. He spent a year and a half as an Americorps program coordinator working directly with students and teachers to infuse play throughout the school day. In the 2011-2012 school year, he stepped into the role of program manager in Wisconsin with the hope of reaching more students and developing some great coaches. He spent three and a half years as a program manager. During this time, he learned about about Milwaukee Public Schools, its families and the community. As program director, PJ is eager to spread Playworks' mission throughout Wisconsin to ensure that every child in Wisconsin has an opportunity for safe, meaningful play on a daily basis.

Carolyn Muckelberg
Development Manager

Carolyn has always loved connecting with people and learning! After graduating from UW-Milwuakee, she began her career as an inside sales rep for a local aeronautics company, but wanted more from her professional life. She returned to school for her teaching certification in French for middle and high school. After spending a year abroad living and working in France, Carolyn received an opportunity to work for a non-profit cultural organization in development. Since 2005, Carolyn has helped local non-profit organizations build strong resource development practices and advance their mission. Carolyn worked for the Alliance Francaise, Milwaukee Ballet, and most recently as director of development for Eastbrook Academy. Her passion is education and since joining Playworks she remains active in serving Eastbrook Academy as well as other local Christian ministries. Carolyn is married and has two sons, Henry and Peter, who keep her involved in Boy Scouts. “I feel so lucky to have a job that requires me to connect with people, to learn how to apply my sales skills to fundraising, and offers me the opportunity to have a positive impact on people.” Carolyn enjoys running and reading, and she and her husband recently joined a couples bowling league.

Tom Cramer
Program Manager

Tom served as an Playworks AmeriCorps coach from 2012–2014 at Allen-Field Elementary and is excited to be rejoining the team as a program manager. Tom is passionate about youth development programs that put the interest of kids first, and has seen firsthand the transformational power of play. After leaving Playworks, Tom took a position as camp director at YMCA Camp Minikani, and then moved on to Northwest Catholic School as the dean of students. Tom is extremely excited to help develop strong coaches and site coordinators who will continue to spread the Playworks mission across Wisconsin.

Atoi Sinclair
Program Manager

Atoi is very excited to join the Playworks Wisconsin office team after spending two years as a coach at Siefert Elementary School. While at Siefert, Atoi helped transform the playground and the school culture. Students were taking ownership of their playground, while adults actively participated in the games with the students. When you looked around the playground you'd see gender inclusion and students using Ro Sham Bo to solve conflicts. While Atoi enjoyed her role as coach, she is excited to transition into the program manager role and help spread the Playworks movement across Wisconsin. Atoi has seen the powerful impact that Playworks can have on both kids and adults and it is amazing. Atoi grew up playing sports, and even though basketball is her favorite sport, she will never back down from any challenge to play any game. If you see her out on your playground ask her to play, but make sure you bring your “A” game.

Maddy Wilson
Program Manager

Maddy joined Playworks for the 2013 school year as a coach in Milwaukee. Before living the coach life, Maddy was a teacher, forensics coach, and camp counselor in Madison, Wisconsin. As a grown up kid herself, Maddy adores the Playworks mission and has loved her two years as coach. However, Maddy is even more excited to grow with Playworks Wisconsin in her new role as program manager. She's looking forward to watching the power of play influence kids across Wisconsin. Maddy loves glitter, kites, and the Green Bay Packers, but her favorite role is as Captain of Shipwrecked.

James Barenbaum
Account Manager

Jamie joins Playworks with 25 years of professional sales and management experience. Jamie earned his degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University graduating Summa Cum Laude. Jamie is married to his wife Kelly, an elementary school reading specialist and has two children, Caitlin, a High School freshman and Carter, a fourth grader. He spends most of his time as a volunteer coach for travel softball, basketball and football. Jamie enjoys spending time with his family, playing softball and basketball, and watching Chicago sports. His favorite playground game is kickball.

Jena Barjenbruch
Site Coordinator

Jena joined the Playworks Wisconsin team in January of 2014 as a program coordinator. Prior to becoming a Playworks coach, Jena was a primary school literacy teacher, swim instructor, and summer camp coordinator as a Peace Corps volunteer for two and a half years in Guyana, South America. She is thrilled to be entering into her fifth school year with Playworks and third school year as a site coordinator in the School District of Waukesha. Jena is excited to watch approximately 1,600 kids and over 200 staff members take their Playworks journey to the next level this school year. When you see Coach Jena on the playground, you may find her playing toilet tag, four square, or kickball.

Daniel Bolling
Site Coordinator

Danny is entering his second year as site coordinator at Playworks Wisconsin. Danny has been with Playworks for more than three years starting as an intern and working his way to a year-round staff position. After his semester intern, Danny served a year as an AmeriCorps Coach and a year as a staff coach both at Franklin Pierce Elementary School, where he built a strong rapport with the staff and students. As a Native of Milwaukee and a product of Milwaukee Public Schools, Danny found that his passion of sports, play and children directly aligned with Playworks mission. From tag to football, hopscotch to basketball, he is always ready for a game and loves being challenged. Away from the playground, you can find Danny cheering on his favorite team, the Milwaukee Bucks. He attends every game.

Courtney Gonnering
Site Coordinator

Courtney joined the Playworks Wisconsin team in 2016 as an AmeriCorps coach at Ninety-Fifth Street School and has been playing hard ever since. She is very excited to be bringing safe and healthy play to Watertown, Wisconsin this year. She is passionate about youth development, play, and creativity. Courtney especially enjoys working to create a collaborative climate that is positive, inclusive, and empowering. Prior to Playworks, Courtney worked for University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in substance-abuse education. When Courtney is not playing, you can find her hanging outside in nature, finding goats to pet, hiking, eating ice cream, and dreaming up and planning her next grand adventure.

Ant James
Site Coordinator

Ant really has a passion for work that builds youths' social and emotional skills throughout the city of Milwaukee. After he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2013, he taught both elementary and high school at Travis Academy for two years. Ant joined the Playworks team in August of 2015 as an AmeriCorps program coordinator at Elm Creative Arts, where he built strong and meaningful relationships with staff and students. During his time at Elm, Ant fell in love with both the vision and mission of Playworks. At Elm, he directly witnessed the impact Playworks has on not only kids but adults as well. Although he has enjoyed his two fulfilling years at Elm, Ant is excited for the opportunity to be a site coordinator in four schools this year and increase his impact in the city of Milwaukee.

Outside of work, you can find Ant spending the majority of his time with his three children Nyzhaya, Charles, and Travis. Ant is a huge family man by nature and enjoys bringing out the best in every kid through play. 

Kevin Rodgers
Site Coordinator

Kevin joined the Playworks Wisconsin team in 2014 as an Americorps Coach at Hopkins Lloyd Community School. His experience that year helped him shape his humanitarian vision and advance into the role of Site Coordinator. With a playful spirit, Kevin continues to work with Milwaukee Public Schools to cultivate leaders and give every kid a chance to play every day. Off the playground, Kevin loves to explore the city on his bike, eat pizza, watch cartoons, and read a good book. If you want to play some soccer or see pictures of his cat, reach out to Kevin anytime.

Maggie Shanahan
Site Coordinator

Maggie is excited to begin her third year with Playworks. Maggie began working with youth as a camp counselor and administrative staff member at YMCA Camp Minikani, where she found her passion for working with children. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, she served in Milwaukee Public Schools with City Year Milwaukee. Following that, she served two years as a Playworks coach. Maggie can't wait to begin the adventure as a Playworks site coordinator.

Outside of work, Maggie loves spending time in nature and playing with puppies. She has even been to 15 National Parks in the last year! At recess, you can often find her setting jump rope records and catching fly balls in kickball.

Caitlin Gent
Engagement Specialist

Caitlin joined the Playworks Wisconsin team in August of 2017 as engagement specialist. Prior to joining the team, Caitlin served as a Lutheran Volunteer Corps member in Chicago, IL for a nonprofit organization called the Chicago Jobs Council (CJC). At CJC, Caitlin worked on a variety of communications and research projects to advocate for policies that eliminate barriers to employment for disadvantaged job seekers. Caitlin is excited to apply her skills to promote healthy, safe play for kids in her home state. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys exploring state parks, singing in the car, and taking pictures of Lake Michigan.