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Luncheon: Nancy Gianni Chief Belief Officer, GiGi's Playhouse

With over 30 locations across the United States and Mexico and 200 inquiries to start new locations all over the world, GiGi’s Playhouse is the ONLY network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers. Every day, Gigi's provides FREE, life-changing therapeutic, educational and career training programs for 30,000+ individuals of all ages. Programs are always available to participants and families despite their initial skill level or ability to pay. By offering free programs and through our Generation G Campaign for global acceptance, we EMPOWER families by maximizing opportunities for daily achievement and lasting acceptance. To ensure lasting acceptance, we must show the world what individuals with Down syndrome are truly capable of achieving as students, co-workers, volunteers, friends, and valued members of their communities. Our program outcomes help advances this vital social impact goal.
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Nancy Gianni is the Founder and “Chief Belief Officer” of GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers, and the visionary behind the organization’s launch and dramatic growth. In 2002, Nancy gave birth to a beautiful daughter, GiGi. When given the Down syndrome diagnosis, Nancy’s fears, coupled with the negative reactions of the medical staff, made Nancy believe that her life, as she knew it, was over. But she soon realized that GiGi could do the same things that her other children could do! What began as a mother’s mission to change perception has turned into a global enterprise that is spreading an international message of acceptance for all. 

A single Playhouse in suburban Chicago has since evolved into over 35 inspirational Down Syndrome Achievement Centers throughout the United States and in Mexico, serving 77,000 individuals of all ages and their families. GiGi’s Playhouse changes lives through free educational, therapeutic and career training programs, making a lifetime commitment to support and empower families from diagnosis to adulthood. Nancy’s ambitious vision is to meet the demand for programs that target the underserved population of more than 450,000 Americans living with Down syndrome. Fourteen new GiGi’s Playhouse centers will open in 2018, and there are hundreds of inquiries to open more worldwide. GiGi’s Playhouse is 99 percent volunteer run and is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that survives completely on charitable donations.

The replicable model Nancy created of business plus belief combines her entrepreneur spirit with her passion to change the world. The launch of the Generation G campaign was the catalyst for taking her mission beyond Down syndrome and changing the way the world sees people who are different. In just one day, Generation G reached 80,000 people through social media and retweets, all sharing the GiGi’s Playhouse global message of acceptance.

Nancy was recognized as a 2016 CNN Hero, she was named a Chicagoan of the Year, she received the prestigious Social Entrepreneur Award, and she has an honorary doctorate from Stevenson University in Maryland. Nancy repeatedly exhibits an unmatched ability to lead and inspire. She is a sought-after public speaker and has done numerous media appearances. 

“Typically, when a business works as hard as we do, you grow your profits. That is why you go into business! Well, GiGi’s growth is extraordinary, however our profits are not measured in dollars but in the lives we are changing every day. I know our model of free educational and therapeutic programming would not fit into any Fortune 500 CEO’s business plan!  But you know who wins in this plan? The kids and the world!” ~ Nancy Gianni

Tuesday, January 9, 2018, 12:10 PM until 1:20 PM
Union League Club
65 W. Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL  60604

Registration is required
Payment In Advance Only
The Union League Club has a dress code policy, strictly enforced, of business or business casual. No jeans, tennis shoes or other casual attire. Overcoats must be checked upon arrival in the building lobby.
No Fee


ROTARY/One Foundation

Rotaract Club of Chicago

Mailing Address:
65 West Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604 
Meeting Reservations:
All welcome, please register in advance in CALENDAR.
(3 1 2) 8 5 7 - 3 1 6 1
Voice mail  or text message only
Virtual Office:
(3 1 2) 3 7 2 - 3 9 0 0
(not located at ULC)

Khaled Akkawi,

Michael Salamun,
rotaract president

David Phelps,
chief administrative officer

Nancy Phelps,
member services  
Nancy Ashburn,