Meet The PlayGarden Team

At the PlayGarden our diverse and experienced staff and board work collaboratively to lead our inclusive programs, design our beautiful and fully-accessible gardens, care for our animals and provide children of all abilities and their families a safe, accessible and adventurous place to play.



Elizabeth Bullard, Executive Director
Elizabeth is also the visionary behind and founder of the PlayGarden. She has an MA in Speech-Language Pathology from Indiana University at Bloomington, and a BA in Speech and Hearing Sciences/Spanish from Indiana University. She has worked with children and families in the Seattle area since 1985, and enjoys working and playing alongside PlayGardeners of all ages.




Sophie Barnett-Dyer, Lead Teacher
Sophie received a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education with Special Education certification in 2005 from Mills College, in Oakland Ca. Her childhood spent playing in her family’s garden in Seattle,and later as an adult visiting school gardens in the Bay Area, has inspired a life-long love of teaching and learning with young children in the garden. She is also an avid gardener herself, as well as cook, camper, crafts person, and the mother of two fantastic children.




Asher Brown, Program Assistant
Asher started working as a Preschool Helper in the fall of 2017. He supports the teaching staff by setting up for the morning program,greeting preschoolers and families, and engaging with kids during morning play. When he’s not working, Asher stays busy as a volunteer at Swedish Hospital and participates in Special Olympics, including swimming, soccer, and his long time favorite, downhill skiing. He has been a member of the Skihawks Racing Team for the past 8 seasons and won gold at this year’s winter games. Asher graduated from Garfield HS and Nathan Hale’s transition program.



Office Manager, Emma

Emma Simonson, Office Manager
Emma is a recent graduate from Pacific Lutheran University where she earned a BA with majors in Global Studies and Hisp
anic Studies. She enjoys working with kids and previously worked at Seattle Children’s PlayGarden as a Summer camp counselor. Emma is passionate about helping others and enjoys running, reading, baking, and spending time with family and friends in her free time.






Hannah Gallagher, Inclusive Programs Director
Hannah  is an inclusive, community-focused  environmental educator, speaker, disability-rights advocate from Seattle, WA. Hannah holds a graduate certificate in Education for Environment & Community from IslandWood, a Master’s in Education and a graduate certificate and non-profit management from the University of Washington.

Hannah works as the Inclusive Programs Director at the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden. Hannah has over 15 years of experience working with children and youth with and without disabilities.  This experience aids he in her role as Summer Camp Director and as one of the organizations Lead Preschool Teachers.  She is the co-author of two books on inclusion and has been sharing her gained knowledge in the form of community-based inclusion workshops and presenting at local, national and international conferences on the topics of nature-play, inclusion, child-directed and multi-age learning for the last five years. Hannah is a 2015 Natural Leaders Legacy Camp Leader, and currently serves on the Board of Directors as an alumni representative for a youth-outdoor leadership program here in Seattle called POST 84.

When Hannah is not working, you can find her at local food banks and farms sorting and growing produce, visiting farmer’s markets, hiking the wonders of the PNW forests, on her bike and sharing a home-cooked meal time with friends and family.

Mica Rood, Co-Camp Director

Mica spent her undergraduate years studying Speech and Hearing Sciences at Washington State University. Throughout high school and college she worked at PlayGarden as a camp counselor, in fact it was her first job! Mica, born and raised in Seattle, loves the Pacific Northwest spirit of hiking, camping, gardening and finding ways to stay creative through baking and card making. She is engaged in creating spaces the welcome everyone with positivity, inclusivity and compassion. 



Michaela McCarthy, Program Assistant

“I am excited to be working at the PlayGarden because I like being around kids. I had a lot of fun going to the PlayGarden when I was little and I want other kids to have fun at the PlayGarden, too. During my free time, I like listening to music, writing on my iPad, and taking care of my companion dog, Mellie.”





Annie Jones, Preschool Program Assistant and Camp Counselor
Annie is a born and raised Seattleite, She went to Nathan Hale Highschool and is hoping to continue my education while working at the PlayGarden. Annie started coming to the PlayGarden when she was 3 years old and graduated from camper to counselor. The transition has been a lot of fun! She said “I like using all my knowledge of the PlayGarden to help other kids have fun.  I like working with kids because they always find a way to have fun and I love watching them grow and get smarter every day!” On the weekend you can find Annie hanging out with her friends and family, painting and walk my dog.  



Nicole Ijeoma, Preschool Program Assistant
Nicole is joining our preschool team on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will be in the classroom assisting with snack, storytime, and playtimes, as well as helping us prep projects for preschool. Nicole loves reading and writing poetry, and she’s looking forward to playing with the preschoolers. She will be assisted by her job coach Liv from Provail.


Kaitlyn Murray, Preschool Teachers Assistant
Kaitlyn graduated from University of Washington with a Bachelor’s in Sociology, and is passionate about nurturing the development of positive social skills by creating thoughtful learning communities. Her favorite part about working with children is helping them discover their interests and build supportive friendships. Kaitlyn loves spending time outside in nature and is excited to explore the beautiful PlayGarden with students during preschool this year.




Sofia Bio

Sofia Wells, Preschool Teachers Assistant 
Originally from the Portland area, I made the trek up north to Seattle for university and have loved my years here since! I spend my time baking, eating my way through Seattle, enjoying the easy access to water all around the city, and caring for my first pet of my own, a 12 year old cat named Arjuna!

I’m excited to join the PlayGarden for its nature based curriculum, as I feel everyone could stand to learn a bit more of the natural world around them. As we all move into a new school year, I’m excited to help to support students as they grow and discover themselves and I hope to make them feel empowered and safe to advocate for themselves and others.




Susan Moore, Board Chair
Parent Educator, Parent/Child Center
Seattle Central College

Patrick Henry, Treasurer
Parent Advocate 


Paul Kraegel MSW, MEH, Secretary
Urban ecologist, Parent advocate

Burnley Danner, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

Kathleen Lehman

Kathleen Lehman
University of WA’s Center on Human Development and Disabilities (CHDD) 
Self-Advocate Faculty member for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
(LEND) program

Chuck Cowan
Emeritus Clinical Professor
University of Washington School of Medicine, Dept. of Pediatrics

Steve Barker

Steve Barker
Parent Advocate and Facilities Manager,
Member of International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) and  American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). 

Erica Finsness MPH
Parent Advocate

Liz Bullard MA Founder
Seattle Children’s PlayGarden

Zoë Maddox
Human Rights Lawyer
Director Human Rights Watch

Linda Hunter Suzman
Board Emeritus
Financial Service Professional
MassMutual Financial Group


Abraham Bergman, MD
Board Chair Emeritus
Harborview Medical Center
Attending Physician
University of Washington
School of Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics.

The Importance of Representation

At the PlayGarden we know how important representation is. The impact of seeing yourself represented, whether that’s in media or in the classroom, is powerful.  Our team is made up of individuals across different ages, genders, experience levels, educational backgrounds and across a variety of racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The PlayGarden hires people with and without disabilities to ensure that all of our campers and preschoolers can see themselves reflected in our staff. 

Equal Opportunity Employer 

The Seattle Children’s PlayGarden is an Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes a diversity of applicants to apply. Having a staff that authentically reflects the communities we serve is a critical step in creating the inclusive world we envision.