Volunteers & Directors

Please view below our Newtown volunteers and team directors. With every workshop typically new volunteers and team directors join Kids Share Workshops.

Kids Share Workshops is dedicated to helping children discover the superheroes inside each of them—to identify the talents and the traits that make them great, and to awaken them to the feats they are capable of accomplishing.

It takes a team of adults (in this case, volunteers) to guide these children in the journey. Ultimately, these leaders may discover their own inner heroism along the way. Meet some of our heroes below!


It is the program directors’ job to ensure a successful experience for all. They oversee the entire workshop, guiding and directing its course from the initial need assessment and site investigation to the curriculum design and practical instruction. Questions regarding the workshop should be addressed to the program directors.

Kristina Applegate, Founder & Executive Director

Kristina founded Kids Share Workshops in 2008 with the help of two retired school teachers, Roger Crowley and Newton Baker of central Vermont. The team-thinking started right from the beginning and has carried strongly forward, with many lessons learned over the course of five workshops to date.kristinachildguatemala

Kristina holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Art Institute of Boston, and landed her first job at Scholastic Publishing in New York City. For over 20 years, she has been actively freelancing as an illustrator, portrait artist, art teacher and entrepreneur. Her past endeavors include a line of greeting cards depicting endangered species from A to Z, which were sold nationwide in zoo gift shops and Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Today her passions are her two children, learning Spanish and uniting professional volunteers from all backgrounds to empower children through the creative arts. A onetime resident of Ridgefield, Conn., she is proud to have several of her former high school classmates join the volunteer team that will lead perhaps the most important Kids Share Workshop yet, in neighboring Newtown, Conn.

Email Kristina

laurenprofileLauren Lee, Curriculum Director 

Kristina’s Ridgefield High School classmate, Lauren brings to Kids Share Workshops many years of teaching experience and curriculum writing. She has been a strong team leader at her middle school in Connecticut, and a supporter of animal rights. Lauren has brought her dry wit and her valuable skills to our team, leading the writing curriculum and assisting in all aspects of workshop planning structure.

JenPC HeadshotJennifer Ponte Canning, Marketing Director

Another former Ridgefield classmate, Jennifer has more than 20 years of experience as a professional writer, editor and layout designer, plus years of invaluable experience as the mother of two boys. She is currently creative director of Vision Accomplished! LLC, a Connecticut-based public relations and event-planning firm that she launched in early 2012 with her sister, Kirstin Cerulli. A former PTO president, Jennifer is thrilled to be once again working with children in a community that is dear to her heart.


The KSW creative team consists of graphic artists, writers, editors and photographers who will help plan and promote the workshop through various media. These talented women will also play key roles in the production of a book resulting from the children’s work during the program.

ChrisShonkProfileKris Shonk Pfeifer, Graphic Designer

Originally from Ridgefield, Conn., where she attended school with the current KSW directors, Kris is the founder and creative director of Pfeifer Design, a graphic design company based in New Jersey. She has worked in a variety of design capacities for the last 20 years, with clients ranging from toy manufacturers to hair salons. Kris is also a mother of two young boys. We are excited to have her on our team!

Erica Keane, Workshop PhotographerEricaPhotographer

Born and raised in Newtown, Erica now works in New Milford, Conn., as a full-time health education teacher and part-time photographer. She enjoys capturing meaningful moments through her camera lens, whether it be a wedding, a newborn baby or the playful antics of her own two-year-old son. Erica has volunteered to act as Kids Share Sandy Hook’s official workshop photographer. Her photos will appear throughout this website and in the final Kids Share Newtown book.

Kathy Potter headshotKatherine Potter, Illustrator

We are extremely happy and proud to add published children’s book illustrator, author and graphic designer Katherine Potter to our KSW roster! Kathy will incorporate the children’s paper art designs into her original illustrations for two chapters of the future Kids Share Newtown book. Kathy and her husband raised two daughters in Westchester County, N.Y., where she continues to work for a newspaper publisher while putting the finishing touches on her first novel. Please view Katherine’s beautiful illustration work at: www.katherinepotter.com


These mental health professionals play a vital role in the workshop, gently guiding students and volunteers through the delicate process of healing through artistic expression. 


Mary Pellicci Hamilton, MSAT, ATR, LPC

As owner and practitioner at Art for Therapy in Westport, Conn., Mary employs the creative arts as a tool for healing children and adolescents. She recently organized an art therapy and reading program at Newtown’s C.H. Booth Library, and was one of the first volunteers to sign on with Kids Share Workshops. Mary is the mother of six-year-old twins, a licensed professional counselor and a registered art therapist holding a Masters of Science in Art Therapy, with additional study in Turin, Italy. Her areas of specialization include divorce adjustment, grief and loss, and childhood anxiety disorders. We are thrilled to have her expertise behind us.


Kian F. Jacobs, LCSW

We are also grateful to have Kian on our team! In her private practice in Ellington, Conn., Kian uses art therapy to support people who suffer from anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, childhood abuse trauma, acute incident trauma, family economic stress, grief and loss issues, sexual identity disorders, and other crises.

Kian has certifications in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Level I, Birth to Three Assessment and Advanced Practice with Children and Adolescents. She has completed level one EMDR training and will complete level two in April of 2013. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and contributes to Smith College Alumni, Survivors of Homicide and CT True Colors.


In addition to their tireless assistance in all aspects of planning the Kids Share Newtown workshop, our team leaders will each guide a subgroup of students through the creation of a particular chapter for the resulting Kids Share book. These fun folks can’t wait to inspire goofiness and greatness in their kids each afternoon!

Hillary & Paul Abrams

Hillary&Paul-NewThis dynamic duo enthusiastically signed up to be team leaders early on, and since then have proven to be tremendously resourceful and upbeat. Hillary is the nurse manager,  BSN, RN at Family Medical Associates in Ridgefield, Conn., where she grew up. Her background includes emergency and psychiatric medicine. Her husband Paul is a Western Connecticut State University graduate who majored in criminal justice. Currently, Paul works as a Firefighter/EMT for the City of Stamford, and volunteers as cub master and den leader for his son’s Cub Scout pack. The couple lives with their son and daughter in Bethel, Conn.

cathyprofileCathy Loudon

We are happy to have Sandy Hook resident (and mother) on our team! Cathy has managed a family medical practice in Ridgefield for nearly 20 years, where she shares her kindness and compassion with everyone she meets. She is fiercely committed to her work, her friends, and most of all, her husband and young son. Cathy is a firecracker who has singlehandedly raised hundreds of dollars for Kids Share Newtown and contributed valuable research to our workshop planning! We are thrilled to have her on board!


There would be no workshop without these wonderful volunteers working behind the scenes! They play a crucial role in every aspect of planning—researching venues, recruiting volunteers and participants, procuring donations of funding and supplies, even baking refreshments! We are so fortunate to have them on our KSW team.

KMpictureKristen Casey Marshall, Sandy Hook Liaison

Kristen is our strongest link between Ridgefield and Newtown. An RHS classmate whose three children attend Sandy Hook Elementary School, Kristen joined our team during our first site investigation; it was immediately evident that her unique insight and sensitivity would shape the Kids Share Newtown curriculum and set the tone of its public voice. Kristen also brings a strong business background to the team. We are very grateful to have her on board!

Meg Sullivan        Meg Sullivan

Meg also grew up in Ridgefield with many of the other KSW volunteers. She studied architectural engineering at Norwalk Community College, and has worked for 11 years  doing computer-aided design for residential and commercial construction projects. Meg recently completed work in Newtown, where she developed a connection to the community that eventually led her to volunteer as a support for Kids Share Newtown. She has proven to be a resourceful and enthusiastic background support person. Welcome, Meg!

JenniferCJennifer Dwyer-Castagna

Jennifer is one of the latest volunteers to join the Kids Share team, having hopped on board without hesitation when we happened to open an account at her bank! Born and raised in Connecticut, Jennifer lives in Newtown with her husband and their six-year-old son; she also has two grown daughters. Jennifer is an assistant vice president and branch manager for Peoples United Bank in Danbury, Conn., and her professionalism and knowledge are a welcome addition to our team!

Margaret HeadshotMargaret Avesato Maier

With a background in design as well as education, newest team member Margaret will bring both creativity and sensitivity to our Newtown students. She holds a degree in textile surface design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and spent 15 years working as a graphic designer in the garment industry before becoming a special education tutor. She is currently working on a children’s book of her own. Margaret lives in Bethel, Conn., with her husband and two young sons. We are so very happy to welcome her aboard!

Roger1Roger Crowley

Roger is a superhero and a very talented retired school teacher, who understands each child’s different way of learning. Today he mainly focuses on sports  photography and often photographs Kristina’s work. What also makes Roger special is that he co-founded Kids Share Workshops with his buddy Newton Baker and Kristina Applegate in 2007, over coffee at Capital Grounds in Montpelier, Vermont. His mentoring skills are outstanding. Without Roger’s many years of experience, compassion for children and insight, Kids Share Workshops would not be what it is today. We are proud to announce that Roger will be supporting Kids Share Newtown workshop as a volunteer.

NewtonprofileNewton Baker

Recently Mr. Baker  was honorably given the State of Vermont Executive Department A Commendation by Governor Peter Shumlin, in honor of  his many talents. He has run more marathons than the average person, some of his races are ultra marathons, while surviving cancer and has inspired countless children for decades as a teacher. Newton is unique and gifted and continues to inspire youth and adults. In 2008 Newton coached the children at Union Elementary School in Vermont to write the first Kids Share Vermont to India book, which won a USBBY award in Washington, DC. We are thankful to Newton for reaching out to Kristina in 2007 at Capital Grounds. He started the chain reaction from Roger Crowley to so many incredible volunteers over the years, reaching from Vermont to Oregon to India to Central America. We are thrilled to be able to call upon Newton as one of our volunteer supports.

One thought on “Volunteers & Directors

  1. Pingback: Home Page: Kids Share Workshops | Home Page: Kids Share Workshops


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