The Advisory Council of the Playgarden serves to assist and advise the current Board of Directors in fulfilling its responsibilities, to retain institutional and historical information about the organization, and to provide reference for the foundational values of the organization. The Advisory Council is comprised of former members of the organization’s Board of Directors holding diverse skills, professional backgrounds and experiences who have illustrated a proven commitment to the not for profit (service) organization, or leaders of the greater community with a particular expertise in organizational leadership and development of a non profit entity.
Advisory Board Member
Kathy served on The Playgarden's Board of Directors for seven years, five of those as Board President. During her tenure, the organization experienced significant growth and was able to purchase the beautiful beachside property it had been renting for over a decade. Under Kathy's leadership, The Playgarden initiated the first Forest Kindergarten in the southeast, and was proud to host LifeWays Teacher Training on site. Kathy was instrumental in the search and onboarding of the organization's first Executive Director and the creation of Board Committees and structure. She also developed the organization's first strategic plan and scholarship program. Currently, Kathy serves on The Playgarden's Advisory Council.
Kathy is one of the founders of the Sophia Circle, an anthroposophical study group that meets monthly to discuss the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. She was a member of Antioch University’s Administration and Leadership Cohort for 2019-2020 and completed Explorations workshops through the Center for Anthroposophy. She believes strongly in service to the community and is a certified Guardian Ad Litem (Child Advocate) Volunteer, a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and Non-Profit Center of Northeast Florida. Kathy and her husband Niels, a native of Denmark and retired Merchant Mariner, have three school age children. She continues to be active in her children's schools as a former PTO Chair and Class Parent.
Advisory Council Member
Mrs. Chris Lester, M.ED, IMH-E® is Co-Founder of The Playgarden, Author of Newborn TOUCH Basics and the Newborn TOUCH Instructor Course. She is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and Infant Family Specialist.
Chris brings expertise from her career in local, state and federal government, to include six years as an education program manager in Europe and Asia and a year on Capitol Hill, mostly running errands for senior staff. She holds a Master’s in Education and, when her kids started school, began a second career as a community educator with Baptist Health System.
Chris’ life trajectory changed in 1995 when she and several other Beaches moms discovered Waldorf parenting philosophy as they passed around a copy of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin. Inspired by the idea of preserving and protecting the magic and wonder of early childhood, this passionate group of families started Waldorf and Anthroposophical book studies, launched playgroups, festivals and camping trips, visited Waldorf schools and attended conferences, formed a nonprofit agency, wrote grants, and brought consultants from across the county to educate our community. Playgarden children continue to paint, make bread and share Stone Soup on tables and chairs purchased through grants awarded during those early years. A member of the Sophia Circle Anthroposophical Study Group, Chris serves as a LifeWays Mentor and is the founder of Newborn Touch Community, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to helping babies cry less, sleep more and flourish as they develop.
Advisory Council Member
Samantha is the owner of Orender Law. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Amherst College and her law degree from the University of Florida. She has three sons and one daughter, two who currently attend The Playgarden. Her oldest son was part of the Playgarden's first forest kindergarten class! She currently serves on the Advisory Council and was a board member from 2013-2017. She loves the Playgarden's delicious organic snacks and all weather outdoor play.