Who We Are
Tom has written several original musicals, most recently “Puzzle Piece” which is about a family life living with Autism. After a performance of his musical, “Giggles” which premiered at The Smithsonian. After that performance Tom was invited along with two of his students to visit the White House to meet the President and his wife and to share in dinner and a performance. Tom has been a Guest Speaker and Teacher at Shenandoah University, George Mason University, and The Disability Summit in McLean, Va., and at The Virginia Association of Independent Schools. Tom also stays active as a professional actor and most recently performed as “Donkey” in Shrek the Musical and Leo Bloom in “The Producers” at Shenandoah Summer Music Theater. He along with several of his clients are subjects for a Documentary which is filming presently about the power of Music Therapy. The film is being directed by Award winning Documentary Film Maker, Susan Koch.
He enjoys writing original songs with his students and often shares the talents of those he mentors with the community, reinforcing the idea that creation is to be shared. Tom has had over 20 years of working with people from all walks of life and is excited to see A Place To Be become a reality. He hopes it creates a safe and creative haven for those people who are looking for “A Place To Be.”
Kim Tapper, Associate Director/Life Coach, ACC, CPCC
Kim Tapper, Associate Director of APTB, has been working with youth and adults for almost 20 years as a teacher, director, choreographer, life coach, and mentor. She is credentialed as an ACC through the International Coach Federation, CPCC (Coach Training Institute), as a Life Strategies Coach (Spencer Institute), and holds a BA in Dance Movement Therapy from Goucher College.
Kim coaches individuals to expand their possibilities, reach their personal goals and engage completely in their lives. She specializes in working with people with medical challenges (cancer, Lyme disease, cerebral palsy), family counseling, and women from ages 13-adult focusing on self esteem, finding their voice, developing passion, and building confidence. Additionally, Kim serves as a group facilitator for teenage girls ranging from self esteem issues to young women’s leadership groups. Kim serves as a Life Coach and consultant at the Hill School, where she taught for ten years. At INOVA Loudoun Hospital’s Oncology Department, Kim leads “Life Beyond Diagnosis” coaching workshops and has been a guest speaker and teacher for Life With Cancer. In 2004 Kim co-founded the Creative Youth Theater Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to working with teens in the arts.
She collaborated with Loudoun Youth Initiative creating teen productions addressing bullying and teenage struggles.
Kim served as the co-Artistic Director of the Crossroads Dance Project for six years, a non-profit modern dance company dedicated to bridging communities together through dance. Her acclaimed choreography received multiple nominations from the Metro DC Dance awards. Since 2000 Kim has also choreographed over 20 musical theater productions. In addition to these choreographic endeavors, Kim received a grant in 2009 from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust and the Hill Playhouse to create an original theatrical production, Reflection, about body image and women’s self worth. In 2013 she will publish a book of poetry inspired by the clients at APTB and illustrated by one of her teenage clients. Kim is deeply committed to the mission of helping people live a full, confident life beyond their label or diagnosis. She believes in the power of the arts and coaching to help people attain their goals and live their best life where they are seen and appreciated for their abilities and gifts.
Angelle Cook, Business Manager/Theater & Writing Teacher M.A.
Angelle Cook, Business Manager and Theater and Writing teacher has been working with students for ten years. She holds a masters degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College.
While earning her undergraduate degree at Prescott College, Angelle worked at an emerging performing arts studio where she created a drama program. There she taught weekly classes, designed a summer theatre intensive program, and directed the studio’s bi-annual musical theatre productions. Angelle formed and chaired a nonprofit at the performance arts studio to raise funds for low-income youth to participate in theatre, music, and dance.
In 2010, Angelle graduated from Emerson with an M.A. after completing her thesis titled: Using Theatre of the Oppressed with Youth Offenders: Working to Improve Collaboration, Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills. She spent four weeks teaching at a locked-down juvenile offender facility using Augustine Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed techniques.
In the summer of 2010, Angelle returned to Northern Virginia to join Tom and Kim in opening A Place To Be. Since then she has worked at the center as the Business Manager and teaching individual sessions in theater and writing as well as teaching classes such as Improvisation, Playmaking and Creative Writing. Currently she assists Tom and Kim teaching a class at George Mason University. She truly believes that she has found a niche working within the arts with people with special needs.
From 2010-2012, Angelle spent two seasons with VSA arts as a stage manager and director. In the past she has worked at The Hill School and with The Creative Youth Theatre Foundation.
As a writer she has taken courses in Playwriting, Playmaking, Screenwriting, and Creative Writing as well as composed countless poems, essays, and short stories. In 2006, her children’s play “A Day With Chaos” was work-shopped and presented within a summer-theatre intensive program. Angelle finished her first solo novel, "[UN]Caged" in 2012 and is currently pursuing publishing.
Ashley Jewell, Music Therapist MT-BC
Tracey Swope - Music Therapist
Recently graduated from Shenandoah University in May 2013 with a Bachelors Degree in Music Therapy. During her time at Shenandoah University she ran on the Cross Country and Track team from 2009-2011, and was apart of the Shenandoah University Music Therapy Association from 2009-2013. Tracey participated in Chimers, which is a group of adults with Developmental Disabilities that make up a hand-chime ensemble, assisted by the Music Therapy Department at Shenandoah University. Tracey recently completed her Music Therapy internship at A Place To Be, and NW Works Inc. in Winchester, VA. During her internship she was involved with lunch bunch, working with groups from Middleburg Elementary School, A Place To Be’s Spring Recital, Summer Camp, and Same Sky.
A Place To Be Staff and Board 2013-2014 Term
Board for the 2014-2015 season
Rob Lowry: President
Rob is a Senior Vice President and Team Leader for Rutherfoord, a leading risk management, employee benefits and surety bonding broker based in the Mid-Atlantic. He joined Rutherfoord in 2004, working in the Alexandria (DC) office in a business development and team leader role.
Rob began his career in the banking industry in Richmond with the Bank of Virginia. After 8 years of working for a family owned construction business in Connecticut in the 90’s, serving in a number of roles culminating in his becoming an officer and minority owner, Rob has spent the past 15 years in a production role within the insurance brokerage industry. He was appointed Senior Vice President of Rutherfoord in 2012, and has consistently been recognized as one of the top salespeople within the organization, and honored as one of the members of the firm’s Circle of Champions.
Rob is an active member of several trade associations serving the insurance, construction, moving storage & logistics, and real estate industries, including AGC, ABC, AMSA, NAIOP, NAREIT, and WBC, and has participated in a variety of roles for many civic & charitable organizations, including A Place To Be, Autism Speaks, The Connecticut Forum Advisory Committee, American Heart Association, and the National Lupus Foundation – CT Chapter. Rob resides in Leesburg, Virginia, and he and his wife, Tracy, are busy raising three children – Madison, Ryan, and Carson.
Maite Dougherty: Secretary
A Florida native of Cuban parents and a recent resident of the Middleburg area, Maite is the mother of three girls. Her youngest, Veronica, has Down syndrome and is a regular participant at A Place To Be. Maite graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and later moved to England where her children were born. There she became involved with Down’s Ed, an educational foundation in Portsmouth solely dedicated to the cognitive research and development of the potential of Down children. Maite co-founded a playgroup in her town to promote their methods, which encouraged signing as early form of communication.
Later, as an advocate for inclusion, she successfully integrated Veronica at the local private school in Wellington, Florida where she enjoyed an education equal to her peers through the 6th grade. Maite is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in History at George Mason University while continuing to promote more opportunities for inclusion and awareness of children with differences.
Huntington Lyman grew up in New York City and Connecticut, and graduated from Yale in 1983. He then moved to Middleburg and taught English at Hill School, Foxcroft, and Notre Dame Academy. He is presently a teacher and the Academic Dean at Hill School. Hunt earned a Masters degree at Wesleyan University and a doctorate from the University of Virginia, and he has published many articles and given many presentations about teaching. Over the past fifteen years, Hunt has appeared in many Tom Sweitzer productions, including Porches, Of Mice and Men, Working, Little Shop of Horrors, and Into the Woods. Hunt and his wife Sue have a son Christian, and everyone in the family enjoys seeing and supporting the excellent work at A Place to Be.
Carla O'Brien is the founder of Coach Carla LLC, a Life Coaching Company that offers coaching and work with horses to help People, Corporations, and Organizations to find their happiness and success.
Carla is a Mom of 4 kids all with a large variety of "D's," including ADD, OCD, ASD, LD, Dyslexia, and Lyme Disease. She dedicates her life to helping those who are "different" to thrive and be happy in their lives, and their work...their way.
She is honored to be in contribution by sitting on the Board of A Place To Be. brings insights born from actual personal experiences in her own different life, in her family, and in the corporate world. Her children have personally been profoundly impacted from being a part of this incredible organization, and she hopes to be of great support in bringing the work and the message of A Place To Be, to all who need it.
Coach Carla LLC offers coaching to Organizations, Businesses, and Individuals on how to achieve happiness and success.
Dr. Rae Stone is a marine mammal veterinarian best known for pioneering the use of diagnostic ultrasound in dolphins. She cofounded Dolphin Quest in 1988, creating a new standard for the public display of dolphins. Dolphin Quest, now with three locations worldwide, is a recognized leader in veterinary care, and reproductive success, as well as creating natural enriching environments, interactive educational programming, and in fostering ocean conservation and stewardship. Last year alone, Dolphin Quest supported 16 University level research projects and Dolphin Quest employees donated over 2600 hours to research projects and community service.
After graduation from Woodbury High School in 1965, I went to Gettysburg College, Pa., on a scholarship and worked summers and during the school year to make it through. I was an English major with minors in Spanish and secondary education. My inspiration for teaching came from a number of great teachers I'd had in Wenonah and Woodbury, and I was certified in English, secondary.
I met my husband, Alan Platt, in high school. We married in 1969 after his graduation from the Naval Academy, and moved to Florida, where he went to flight training. I wrote for the public relations offce of the University of W. Florida, where he received his master's degree, and began my master's in English literature. There were other short careers wherever we moved, such a being a cub reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, or a newscaster for WJAX radio in Jacksonville, Fla. It would be three continents and three decades later that I finally got my master's degree in education from the University of Virginia in 1999.
We were inspired to live overseas after a year in Japan, from where we traveled to unusual places such as Katmandu, Nepal. After our son, Joshua, was born in 1975, we traveled cross country in a Winnebago to see the amazing National Parks of the U.S. and Canada. We had no income, but recovered just after the trip. Alan took a job as an engineer while I wrote for some advertising agencies while he applied for the CIA.
We moved to the Washington area shortly after he started his training, and again, I wrote, this time for a publishing company. We began our career overseas after French training in 1979-80. Our daughter, Amy, was born during the time when we were in Bangui, so I flew back to the U.S. for her delivery, then took her there when she was only a few weeks old! While overseas, we had a lot of time speaking French in several countries, including Zaire and Morocco, so it gave me a lot of time to get fluent. For example, I was a teacher and the administrator of an English program in the embassy in Bangui. Lots of times I had to explain things to my English students in French. When we finally returned in 1994, I'd spent a lot of time with overseas students preparing them to enter university here, and decided to begin getting my master's degree. I taught a lot in San Diego, Ca., and began to tutor students in French. I took a lot of classes before we moved back to McLean, Va., where we'd kept our home while living abroad. I also tutored in SAT preparation programs and a few Japanese students.
After receiving my master's degree, I volunteered on some of Fairfax County Public Schools' school board committees. I was hired to teach in the AVID program at several schools, in which I taught English, French, and some Spanish. I began to teach in Loudoun County as a teacher after teaching French part of a year at Foxcroft School to replace another teacher. I began teaching in the home bound program, tutoring ill students for Loudoun County Public Schools, in 2003, and taught summer school for five years while subbing during the school year. I continue to tutor French and sub for Loudoun now.
My biggest interest now is participating in an antiques group of which I was president last year, being on the boards of the Middleburg Garden Club and The Pink Box, and working out in zumba and aerobics classes at the local gym. I love to cook and bake for friends and family and take road trips to visit our granddaughter, Zara Madeline, in Charleston, S.C. I enjoy attending church at Emmanuel Episcopal and am co-chairman for an Easter basket project for Seven Loaves each year.
Tom Neel was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, near his family’s farm and town of Neelsville. Always creative, Tom first enjoyed a multifaceted automotive career which included exotic car service, racing and National Sales Management, before pursuing his love of art in 1987 and moving to Rectortown, VA.
At that time he began selling his paintings while also joining the management team of the fine art publisher, Greenwich Workshop. After nearly four years in this position he left to become a full time artist in 1994. Now in his 26th year of fine art sales, Tom Neel is considered one of the most well known and collected fine artists in the area. His paintings are found in national and international collections, both private and with corporate clients including - Lockheed Martin, Ferrari, The Inn at Little Washington, Salamander Resort, Winchester Medical Center, WolfTrap and he is the artist-in-residence of Creighton Farm Premier Golf Community.
Tom and his wife Linda, own Live An Artful Life Gallery in The Plains, VA. and Live An Artful Life Magazine. He is also the author of “The Land Beneath My Feet”, a columnist for The Middleburg Eccentric newspaper - “The Artist’s Perspective”, and serves on the advisory board of Loudoun Education Foundation. Tom served as an original board member for The Creative Youth Theater Foundation with Tom Sweitzer and Kim Tapper.
Tom has raised notable funds for many non profit organizations through his donation of artwork, including working directly with golf legend Jack Nicklaus and Creighton Farms in support of The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation. He and Linda live with their two cats outside of Marshall, VA.
Teresa Wheeler is a Northern Virginia native. She attended Robinson Secondary School and George Mason University. She has been a Loudoun County resident for 20 years.
Teresa has been a friend of "A Place To Be" since 2011. Teresa's daughter Tess has been the sponsor of an APTB's “Lunch Bunch" for the past two years.
Teresa is a trustee at Inova Loudoun Hospital, a member of 100 Women Strong, and an advocate for the Alzheimer's Association. Teresa lives in Leesburg, VA with her husband of 25 years, Mike; and her daughters, Tess, Maddy and Grace.
Doug Meeker is an accomplished digital media executive with a broad range of experience in publishing, advertising and technology. As a senior leader for co’s such as Best Software, AOL, Examiner and Gannett, he has built, managed and had P/L responsibility for a variety of sales, marketing and operations organizations from start-ups to $100M divisions.
Doug currently serves as a consultant, investor and advisor to start-ups in the local digital media and mobile health space. He also serves on Verizon’s Consumer Advisory Board where he serves as an advocate for the expansion of intellectual diversity in the workplace.
Doug lives in Aldie, VA with his wife Beth and children Scott (11) and Katy (9)
Judy was born and brought up in California but moved to Washington, DC after University to be an Administrative Assistant to General Lucius Clay at the State Department and later at the Republican National Finance Committee. While working there she met her husband. For many years they were very much involved in the early days and development of The Wolftrap Center for the Performing Arts.
A PLACE TO BE is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
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