A Peoria Park District Facility

Meet the Staff

THE PLAYHOUSE FLOOR STAFF

Manaar Asad

PlayHouse staff member Manaar

Manaar Asad is one of our amazing Riverplex Playologists. Manaar is a born and raised Peorian. Currently, she is in her junior year at Bradley University, where she studies Family Consumer Science. Her favorite color is pink. Manaar loves adventures and wants to travel the world!

Ashley Bailey

PlayHouse staff member Ashley

Ashley is an explorer of the world. She has lived in several states in the United States. Ashley has lived in Peoria for the past four years. She enjoys camping and arts and crafts. Ashley's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion!

Henry Bolden

PlayHouse staff member Henry

Henry is a born and raised Peorian. Currently, Henry is a student at Illinois State University, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Management. He enjoys Free-Form Jazz and Indie music. He also likes experimental movies and music. Henry's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion, especially the basketball hoop.

Krystopher Brown

PlayHouse staff member Krystopher

Krystopher is a self-taught recycle artist. He likes many animated movies but his top favorite is The Iron Giant. He graduated from Peoria High School in 2011 in Music Studies. Krystopher's favorite exhibits at the PlayHouse are the Water Table and Motion Commotion.

Benjamin Carter

PlayHouse staff member Benjamin

Benjamin grew up in Mississippi. In middle school, he memorized an entire joke book. He always carries hard candies and taught himself how to sing screamo. Benjamin's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion.

Lace Crayton

Lace Crayton

Lace is one of our Riverplex Playologists! Lace grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and made her way to Peoria, Illinois. She attended Illinois Central College and the Midwest Technical Institute. Lace loves the Marvel Universe movies and is a book fanatic. She also loves origami.

Cameron Culberson

PlayHouse staff member Cameron

Cameron is a born and raised Peorian. He currently attends the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he is studying Psychology. In his free time, he loves to paint, draw, and create digital art, as well as hang out with family and friends. Cameron's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion.

Jordan Davis

Jordan Davis

Jordan grew up in the Chicago area. He will be transferring to Illinois State University in the Fall. In his free time, Jordan likes to create video games. His favorite movie is the Lego Batman movie. You can always find him wearing crazy socks. Jordan's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion.

Allison Easley

PlayHouse staff member Allison

Allison is a born and raised Peorian. She attends Northern Illinois University, where she studies English. She has a total of eleven ear piercings and purple hair. In addition, she's involved in color guard. Allison's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is the Water Table.

Haleigh Flaherty

PlayHouse staff member Haleigh

Haleigh grew up in Haeworth, Illinois. Currently, she attends Bradley University, where she studies Nursing. Haleigh's favorite color is Baby Yellow. She loves to hike and can play the trombone! Haleigh's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Fossils Rock.

Jon Fulton

PlayHouse staff member Jon

Jon is a born and raised Peorian. He graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Early Childhood Education and is a full-time Kindergarten teacher! He is passionate about reading and his favorite color is cerulean. Jon's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is the Sci-Lab.

Shane Hanjay

PlayHouse staff member Shane

Shane grew up around the Peoria area in Morton, Illinois. Currently, they attend Bradley University, where they study Game Design. Shane has had a total of four fancy rat pets. They are certified in Advanced Diving, meaning they can explore below 60 feet! Shane's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion.

Robin Hasty

PlayHouse staff member Robin

 Robin is the main leader of our Dungeons and Dragons program! She has a Bachelor’s degree in Music. Her favorite movie is Mulan. She loves all things music and art, and animals, too. Robin's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is the Theater.

Debby Mantick

PlayHouse staff member Debby

Debby is a born and raised Peorian. She has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary School Education. Before coming to the PlayHouse, Debby was an elementary school teacher for 35 years! She loves her fairy gardens and traveling. Her favorite thing to eat is donuts. Debby's favorite exhibit at the PlaHouse is Motion Commotion.

Katherine Moody

PlayHouse staff member Katherine

Katherine grew up in Normal, Illinois, and is currently a Psychology major at Bradley University. She loves to crochet and sing. She’s even a part of an a cappella group at Bradley University! Katherine's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is the Water Table.

Rebecca Mueller

PlayHouse staff member Rebecca

Rebecca is our Real Tools Specialist! She is from Northwest Indiana and is currently an Elementary Education major at Bradley University. Her favorite movies are Raya and the Last Dragon and Big Hero 6. She loves visiting home to see her dogs, cats, and chickens! Rebecca's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Real Tools!

Chris Murphy

PlayHouse staff member Chris

Chris is one of our Riverplex Playologists! She is a born and raised Peorian. She has been married to her husband since 1996. She has always loved working in childcare because it kept her with her kids. She loves animals and has had many cats and currently, has two dogs.

Ang Naylor

PlayHouse staff member Ang

Ang is from the northwest Chicago suburbs and currently goes to school at Bradley University. She is studying Secondary Education along with History & Social Studies. Her favorite movies are Moana and The Princess Bride. In her free time, she likes to watch movies and play various sports. Ang's favorite exhibits at the PlayHouse are Motion Commotion and the SciLab.

Teri Nixon

PlayHouse staff member Teri

Teri is a born and raised Peorian. She has over 25 years working with children in all sorts of different capacities. Teri’s favorite movie is Toy Story as she loves to watch the joy that it brings to children. When not working, you can find Teri curled up at home reading or grabbing a latte from Starbucks. Teri's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion.

Kerah Panzarella

PlayHouse staff member Kerah

Kerah grew up in Chicago, Illinois. Currently, she's a fourth-year student at Bradley University, where she studies Manufacturing Engineering. At Bradley, she's part of the Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS) executive board. Kerah enjoys working with kids because of their fun and carefree nature. Kerah's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Real Tools!

Lottie Prather

PlayHouse staff member Lottie

Lottie is a born and raised Peorian. From an early age, she’s been interested in musical theater and singing. She’s started her own Party Princess business and has dressed up as several different princesses including Elsa, Anna, Belle, Ariel, and more. Lottie's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion.

Miranda Prather

PlayHouse staff member Miranda

Miranda is the main leader of our Tot Time program! Miranda has lived in the Peoria area her entire life and loves watching how kids learn and grow. Outside of the PlayHouse, she enjoys doing puzzles, taking care of her family, and watching her daughter perform. Miranda's favorite exhibits at the PlayHouse are Motion Commotion and the SciLab.

Ashlynn Sauter

PlayHouse staff member Ashlynn

Ashlynn comes all the way from Galesburg, Arizona! She was able to graduate in three years and earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Bradley University. In high school, she only lettered in academics. Currently, she works two jobs with children. Ashlynn's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Motion Commotion.

Ashley Slevin

Ashley Slevin

Ashley grew up in the Peoria area. She is a tabletop gamer. She will burst out into song at any given time. Currently, she has two loveable dogs. Ashley's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is Fossils Rock.

Colette Spears

PlayHouse staff member Colette

Colette grew up in Plainfield, Indiana, outside of Indianapolis. A third-year student at Bradley, she is currently majoring in Accounting and Finance. She was able to study abroad during her time at Bradley. She has four siblings and enjoys cooking. Colette’s favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is the Musical Bridge.

Kenzie Stage

PlayHouse staff member MacKenzie

Kenzie is one of our Riverplex Playologists! She is a born and raised Peorian. She is known to change her hair color every couple of months. In addition to working at the PlayHouse, she enjoys her time working at a library. She loves reading and read over 550 books in 2023! Kenzie's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is the Water Table.

Ezmarelda Urso

PlayHouse staff member Ezmarelda

Ezmarelda grew up in a suburb near Chicago, Illinois. Her favorite movie is A Silent Voice. She likes any shade of red. Currently, she has three cats and one dog. Ezmarelda's favorite exhibits at the PlayHouse are the Chicken Coop and Motion Commotion, specifically the canon.

Cassie Voss

PlayHouse staff member Cassie

Cassie is our photographer! They are a born and raised Peorian. In addition, Cassie is a freelance photographer and poet. Their favorite movie is Paddington 1 and 2. Cassie's favorite exhibit at the PlayHouse is the Musical Bridge.

Alleasha Walton

PlayHouse staff member Alleasha

Alleasha is one of our Riverplex Playologists! She is a born and raised Peorian. She graduated from Illinois Central College with a degree in Graphic Design. In her free time, Alleasha loves to hike, draw, and play video games.

BEHIND THE SCENES: THE PLAYHOUSE OFFICE STAFF

PlatHouse Executive Director Melissa

Melissa Sierra

Executive Director

309.681.2853

msierra@peoriaparks.org

Melissa grew up in Illinois and spent most of her childhood within a five-mile radius of Glen Oak Park. Her passion for learning and sharing comes from working in public libraries for almost 10 years, five of which were spent serving the youth of Austin, Texas. She returned home to Peoria in 2019 and came to the PlayHouse with a passion for learning, growing, and sharing access to resources with our patrons and community members.

PlayHouse Visitor and Membership Engagement Manager Katie

Katie Klaus

Visitor and Member Engagement Manager

309.323.6893

kklaus@peoriaparks.org

Katie grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved to Peoria in 2011 after earning her Bachelor’s Degree at Eureka College. She started working at the PlayHouse in 2017, two years after her son was born. She loves watching him grow up and explore at the PlayHouse. Her favorite toys as a child were her beanie babies because of her love of animals, especially cats.

PlayHouse Exhibit Manager Christian Deeds

Christian Deeds

Exhibits Manager

309.232.6892

cdeeds@peoriaparks.org

Christian grew up in Springfield, Missouri. He graduated from Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Theatre. After some years in Colorado, he found his way to Peoria, Illinois. One of Christian’s most treasured mottoes is to “create something from nothing.” He believes in sharing this sentiment and passing it on to anyone, at any age, to enrich their life significantly. He believes learning and playing go hand-in-hand, making him perfect for the PlayHouse team. Christian hopes to continue to be involved in creative environments and leave his mark at the PlayHouse.

PlayHouse Operations Coordinator Ryce

Ryce Ledezma

Operations Coordinator

rledezma@peoriaparks.org

Ryce was born in Evanston, Illinois, but soon moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he lived for fifteen years. In 2022, Ryce found his home here in Peoria. He's a recent graduate of the Engineering Technician program at the University of Illinois at Carbondale. After working in the Real Tools Maker Space, he immediately connected to the idea of learning through play and finds himself constantly inspired by watching children explore the PlayHouse. Ryce takes great pride in learning and contributing to the daily operations of the PlayHouse so that the community can continue to safely enjoy and explore as visitors and also make it a fun place to work.

PlayHouse Education Manager Jen

Jen Stubbs

Education Manager

309.323.6896

jstubbs@peoriaparks.org

Jen is a proud graduate of Peoria District 150 Schools. She continued her education at Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences and Education. She continued her education by receiving her Master's Degree in Child Development from the Erikson Institute in Chicago. From as early as she can remember, Jen has loved three things: family, learning, and the outdoors. As a mother and educator, she believes that science and nature can inspire play and wonder, foster a love of learning, and create time for togetherness -- for both children and their grown-ups.

PlayHouse Education Coordinator Kylan

Kylan Butler

Education Coordinator

309.323.6897 ext. 3805

kbutler@peoriaparks.org

Kylan grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He spent his middle and high school summers volunteering at the Natural History Museum in Albuquerque and developed a great love and appreciation for education outside of the classroom. Kylan hopes to bring this enthusiasm to the PlayHouse and foster a love of lifelong learning through play in the next generation of Peorians.

PlayHouse Monticello Education Intern Rachel

Rachel Aiello

Monticello Education Intern

309.323.6899

raiello@peoriaparks.org

Rachel is a born and raised Peorian. She graduated from Illinois Central College. Rachel has always had a love for nature and animals. She considers her super power to be laughter. Before coming to the PlayHouse, she worked at Wildlife Prairie Park and the Peoria Zoo. At the PlayHouse, Rachel hopes to help children appreciate the world around them through art, learning, and creativity.