Meet Our Staff
Programs Consultant / Regional Manager – Denver
In this role, Ellen supports PlaySmart’s youth development activities at the local and national level. Ellen provides leadership to PlaySmart’s Denver programs while also helping to facilitate activities for the organization throughout the country. She has been instrumental in the development of the PlaySmart Academy helping it to grow in content and cities where it is held.
Ellen has over 20 years coaching and playing experience in collegiate athletics. She coached at the Division I level both as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. In 2005, she transitioned from court coaching to a brand new arena, as branch manager for Wells Fargo Bank. Her coaching skills quickly transferred to the financial world and she became an Assistant Vice President in 2006. In addition to her duties with PlaySmart, Ellen is the supervisor of athletics for Denver Public Schools and oversees the sport programming for 33 middle schools and 11 high schools.
Ellen earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and philosophy from the University of Bridgeport where she led her team to its first ever NCCA tournament appearance and was the student-athlete of the year. Ellen also holds a master’s degree in sport management from East Stroudsburg University. Ellen can be reached at email@example.com
Regional Director – Omaha
Chad was born and raised in the state of North Dakota in a ranching community. A four sport athlete in high school, he was a standout receiving honors academically, as well as athletically. Chad went on to receive a BA in Education from Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Minnesota. While at Moorhead State, Chad participated in sports such as football, broomball, and basketball. After graduating from Moorhead, Chad entered St. Mary’s University’s and received a Master’s in Education. He continued his quest for higher learning by attending Bemidji State University where he received his secondary degree in math and science. Chad earned his latest Masters Degree from the University of Nebraska where he received his degree in Educational Leadership/Administration.
Professionally,Chad has taught elementary grades and secondary grades in the area of math and science. He has worked at poverty stricken and affluent school districts. In both situations he has immersed himself into programs that have engaged students in learning, deflated bullying, and most importantly getting kids connected/belonging to their communities. As a community member he is involved with the local YMCA, he coaches several youth sports, serves on multitude of boards and is active in his church. Chad is now the principal of a middle school in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. Chad was asked to lead the construction of this middle school. It was a two year project that he took from bricks and mortar to learning. After its third year of existence the middle school was named the number #1 highest academic performing school in the State of Nebraska.
He is an avid runner and loves to fish. Chad is married to his wife Shelly and together they have three wonderful girls. Chad and his family reside in Omaha, Nebraska. Chad lives by his motto in making a difference in the lives of children, as well as the greater community. He can often be heard saying …”Did you make a difference today?” Chad can be reached at Chad@playsmart.org.
Regional Manager – Omaha
John leads PlaySmart’s efforts in Omaha by working with the local advisory board and national board member. He is a figurehead in the Omaha community and has furthered PlaySmart’s mission of working with at-risk kids and by helping to partner with mission similar organizations. He has received numerous awards for his community work and helped PlaySmart land the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the United Way of the Midlands. John also has helped Omaha Playsmart be the primary sponsor of the Greater Omaha Sports Committee High School Scholar Athlete Awards.
In addition to his PlaySmart duties, John is Assistant Football Coach, Omaha Northwest High School, Past President of the Heartland Youth Football League and coach. Currently board member at the Nothing but Net Foundation and the Playmakers Mentoring organization. John has held position as State Coordinator for USA Football. John also was instrumental in helping organize and fund Nebraska Special Olympics Football. He currently coaches the Jr Huskies youth football team. He loves coaching football and using sports as vehicle to teach life skills which is a perfect fit for PlaySmart! John can be reached at JDManna@cox.net.
Regional Director – Oklahoma City
McKenzie heads up PlaySmart’s programs and outreach in Oklahoma City. Raised in Dallas, Texas and a resident of Oklahoma City for the past 11 years, she holds an undergraduate degree in Marketing from Oklahoma State University where she was a member of the Women’s Golf Team. With a background competing in high school and collegiate athletics, McKenzie understands the important life lessons that are taught through teamwork and sports activities. McKenzie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regional Director – New York
Liz coordinates PlaySmart’s summer and year-round programs in the New York area. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Health Education from Columbia University. Liz is a Certified Health Education Specialist and has worked with both adult and adolescent populations. Liz can be reached at Liz@playsmart.org.
Darlene coordinates PlaySmart’s office functions, accounting and marketing efforts. As a Tampa native, she has been active in many community organizations and is passionate about working with PlaySmart. She worked for 15 years in Ybor City, the cigar capital of the world. Darlene enjoys traveling, networking and marketing activities. Darlene can be reached at Darlene@playsmart.org.