Meet the Staff

Executive Director

Val Madsen, MS, CTRS

Contact Val at or 608-833-4467 ext. 2

Val is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and has a Master’s in Therapeutic Recreation from UW – La Crosse, along with a Bachelor’s in Athletic Training/ Sports Medicine. She was hired as the first staff in 2012 to get Gio’s Garden off the ground. She has grown the respite program from providing 225 hours of care in 2012 to over 11,000 hours of services in 2 locations in 2017.

Prior to Gio’s Garden, Val had spent 11 years at Easter Seals Wisconsin working with the Respite Camp program in Wisconsin Dells. Under her leadership, the camp grew to serve over 880 campers each year, all having a variety of special needs. Val has been responsible for recruiting, hiring and training over a 100 volunteers and staff members each year, and has most recently created an online training program for in-home respite providers through the Wisconsin Lifespan Respite Grant. She has presented at numerous conferences and has lead many workshops over the years.

Val was married during the summer of 2014 and spends her free time with her husband and two step-daughters.

Program Director, Art Therapist

Kristin Schmidt, MS, ATR, LPC

Contact Kristin at or 608-833-4467 ext. 4

Kristin graduated with her Master’s degree in Art Therapy with a concentration in Counseling from Mount Mary University in December 2012. In January 2013, Kristin was hired at Gio’s Garden part-time and in October 2013 she was offered a full-time position as the Program Director. As Program Director, Kristin coordinates schedules for the staff, volunteers and families, provides family support services, supervises full-time and part-time staff, manages volunteers and interns as well as works to develop and implement appropriate therapeutic respite care for every child. Kristin also provides individual Art Therapy services.
During undergraduate and graduate school, Kristin gained experience working with individuals in a variety of areas. She has worked in a behavioral health hospital doing art therapy with children, adolescents and adults with mental health issues. As well as a day treatment program for adolescents where she encouraged pre-teens and teens to use art therapy techniques to express themselves creatively.
In her free time, Kristin spends time with her husband training for half-ironman triathlons, volunteering with various organizations, going to sporting events, cuddling their puppies and visiting their large family.

Development Specialist, Recreational Therapist

Maggie Bayerl, CTRS

Contact Maggie at or 608-833-4467 ext. 3

Maggie started at Gio’s Garden in 2015 as a Respite Care Specialist. In January 2017, she joined the team again as the Sun Prairie Program Coordinator and later transitioned to the role of Development Specialist. Maggie developed the Respite 2 Go program, supports the organization through grant writing, foundation requests, and fundraising, and manages community partnerships. Maggie also oversees the Recreational Therapy intern program.

Maggie has a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from Grand Valley State University and is currently working on her master’s in family education from the University of Minnesota. She is nationally certified as a Recreational Therapist. Her work experience includes school-based Recreational Therapy, inclusion programming, and partnering with families of children with special needs to manage community resources.

Maggie lives in Marshall with her husband and all of their animals. In her free time she loves to work outside in the garden and try new restaurants.

Family Intake Counselor, Art Therapist

Becky King, MS, ATR, LPC-IT

Contact Becky at or 608-833-4467 ext. 4

Becky, a registered art therapist, welcomes new families to Gio’s Garden, facilitates individual and group art therapy sessions and works directly with the children during respite. She joined the Gio’s Garden team as an activity specialist in November 2013 and has taken on many roles since then. 

She holds a master’s degree in art therapy with a concentration in counseling from Mount Mary University. 

Originally from Milwaukee, she lives in Sun Prairie with her husband and son. When she’s not devoting time to Gio’s and her family, she is likely on a run.

Family Intake Specialist

Alexandra Reynolds

IMG_2952Contact Allie at or 608-833-4467 ext. 4

Allie started out as an intern at Gio’s Garden before getting hired on as staff in May of 2016. Allie started her role as Family Intake Specialist in November 2017.

She graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Rehabilitation Psychology and a Certificate in Global Health in May of 2017. She has always enjoyed working with many different populations, especially young children and the elderly because of how much she can learn from them! She has been a Certified Nursing Assistant since 2011 and is also currently employed at Capitol Lakes Nursing facility as a CNA and the Waisman Center as a Research Assistant.

In the future Allie hopes to attend graduate school to pursue her degree in Occupational Therapy. In her free time she likes to read, practice yoga, spend time with her friends and family, and eat delicious food!

Recreational Therapists

Chloe Shutter, CTRS

Contact Chloe at or 608-833-4467 ext. 4

Chloe is a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation from SUNY Cortland.  She started at Gio’s in Fall 2016 as a Recreational Therapy intern and was hired on after her internship.

At Gio’s, she assess kiddos for strengths and needs to create individual goals to work on during their therapeutic respite time.  She also plans and implements group therapy.  Group therapy consists of five different groups each targeting specific goals.  Most of what she works on in group therapy is different social skills and leisure experiences.  She has a few kiddos she works with in individual therapy, further working on their individualized goals.

When she’s not working directly with the kiddos, she assists interns in their learning experiences with us.  In her free time she enjoys exploring the Madison area, hiking, and hanging out with friends and her bunny, Beatrice. 

Ketura Luginbuhl, CTRS

 Contact Ketura at or 608-833-4467 ext. 4

Ketura is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and has Bachelor of Science and Health degree from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse.  Ketura began at Gio’s Garden as a full-time Therapeutic Recreation intern in January of 2017, and was hired as a Recreational Therapist that May.  Prior to joining the Gio’s Garden team Ketura was a welder in her home-town, a camp counselor in Missouri, an event coordinator for UW-L, and a camp counselor at Easter Seals Camp Wawbeek.  At Camp Wawbeek Ketura found out about Gio’s Garden and hoped to someday have the opportunity to intern there. 

At Gio’s Garden Ketura works on the programming side of Recreational Therapy so her responsibilities include:  activity and special event planning, field trip coordination, observing and assisting interns, goal-based activity writing, coordinating with special volunteers, and implementing individual Recreation Therapy services! Ketura’s favorite part of her job is planning fun community outings for the kids to embark on. 

In her spare time Ketura enjoys traveling to new places, kayaking, making art, eating Culver’s custard, and playing with her dog. 

Therapeutic Respite Care Specialists

Natasha Lindquist

bio-pic-3Natasha started out as a Therapeutic Recreation intern at Gio’s Garden in May 2016 and hired on as staff in September 2016. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse in May 2016 with an undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Natasha gained a variety of experience working with a range of populations while volunteering on a hospital pediatric floor, Easter Seals Wisconsin respite camp, and private tutoring a child with special needs back in high school. She believes it is important to use teachable moments to help unlock a child’s full potential. She also looks forward to learning something new each and every day. When not at work, Natasha enjoys helping out on her fiancé’s family farm, reading, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and working on a variety of crafts!  

Sarah Dietrich

Sarah started out as a volunteer at Gio’s Garden in September 2013 and was hired on as staff in November 2013. She graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies in May 2015. Sarah has always had an interest in working with children and was a swim lesson instructor for over 5 years. She has worked as a nanny and babysitter for a variety of families and was also a nursery coordinator at a local church. Sarah is a current volunteer at Unity Point Heath Meriter hospital in the pediatric therapy unit. She has also volunteered at St. Mary’s Hospital in the Steady Stride knee replacement and hip replacement program. Sarah is an aspiring occupational therapist with an emphasis in pediatrics. Outside of work Sarah enjoys spending time with family and friends, swimming, knitting, and traveling.

Rachel Eggers, CTRS

Rachel completed her degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in August 2013.  She joined the Gio’s Garden team in November 2013 as an Activity Specialist. Rachel has had the opportunity to work with people with disabilities in many settings including adult day service programs, Special Olympics Teams, Easter Seals Wisconsin Respite camp and an internship with the city of Boulder, Colorado in their program for people with disabilities. Rachel enjoys working with each of the kids at Gio’s to help them grow and celebrate all accomplishments.  In her spare time, Rachel enjoys doing anything outdoors, making crafts and visiting friends and family.

Kaetlyn Taylor

Kaetlyn has lived in the Madison/Middleton area since 2010. She has experience providing respite care to a child with physical disabilities and seizures through Fiscal Assistance of Dane County and Catalyst Home Health. She volunteered with Gio’s Garden for a number of hours since April 2013 and was brought on as staff in November 2013. She has completed her clinical at Ingleside Manor in Mount Horeb to get her CNA certifications and passed the state testing in December 2013. Outside of work Kaetlyn enjoys spending time with her family and spending time outdoors when it’s warm.

 Anna Wilson

IMG_2279Anna started as a volunteer at Gio’s Garden in the Fall of 2015. She excitedly joined the staff in May of 2016 immediately following her graduation from Edgewood College where she received a Studies in Education Degree. Anna has been working as an in-home respite care provider for over 6 years. She also teaches dance to children of all ages and abilities. In addition, she helped initiate a program to incorporate children with special needs into Sunday School at her local church. Anna is currently a volunteer at Communication Innovations where she assists with occupational and speech therapy sessions. Anna is planning to get her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy to work with children and young adults with special needs. When she is not working Anna likes to spend time outside with family and friends, watch movies, running, and traveling.

Amy Anderson

Amy joined the staff April 2017 and works at the Sun Prairie location.  She graduated from Upper Iowa University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services.  Before Gio’s Garden Amy was employed for an agency that worked with a variety of children with disabilities.  Amy has always enjoyed interacting with kids and loves spending her time at Gio’s.  In her free time Amy loves to bake, scrap book, and explore new places with her husband and three kids.


 Emily Messiner, CTRS

Emily is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Health degree in Therapeutic Recreation and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Emily began working at Gio’s as a Therapeutic Care Specialist in September of 2017. In this position, she is able to work with kiddos one on one to help meet their basic needs during respite. She also has the opportunity to facilitate group therapy sessions, complete child assessments, and find “in the moment” recreation opportunities correlating to a child’s goals. Emily’s favorite part about her position is watching young kiddos explore and discover the world around them through play, regardless of their abilities.

While studying Therapeutic Recreation in La Crosse, Emily gained experience working with children of all abilities while volunteering in the Child Life Department on a hospital pediatric floor, as a “buddy” to children in inclusive programming at the YMCA, at community teddy bear clinics, and at the Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center. She also attended a Sibshop Facilitator Training Conference to help meet the needs of siblings of children with disabilities as well.

In her free time, Emily enjoys “living life as play” by running long distance, spending time with her family, and cuddling with her dachshund, Bella.

Amber Troy

Amber loves working with kiddos and helping them learn. She has a undergraduate degree in linguistics and a post baccalaureate certificate in communication science and disorders. She has done one on one in home therapy with kids with ASD. She loves her new job at Gio’s and plans to eventually get a masters in speech pathology. Amber loves to dance and make crafts.




 Isabel Pohlkamp

Isabel joined Gio’s Garden in January 2017. She graduated from UW-Madison in 2014 with a degree in psychology and plans to pursue graduate school in the near future. Isabel currently volunteers at UW Hospital in the American Family Children’s Hospital and at St. Mary’s Hospital in Pediatrics. She has always enjoyed working with children in any capacity and loves spending time with kids at Gio’s! Outside of work and volunteering, Isabel enjoys spending time with family and friends, cheering for the Badgers, reading, and traveling.

Casey Taylor

Casey started as a Respite Care Specialist at Gio’s Garden in June, 2017 on the weekends. She graduated from Blackhawk Technical College with her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, and will be going to UW-Whitewater for her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education. She is currently working in the Brodhead School District as a Paraprofessional in Special Education. She has worked as a Nanny for the past 8 years and loves the job. When she is not working she likes to spend time with her daughter who is involved in several extra curricular activities.

 Cassie Feller

Cassie started at Gio’s Garden as an intern before being hired on as a Respite Care Specialist in January of 2017. She graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Rehabilitation Psychology in May of 2017 and plans to attend graduate school to obtain her Masters in Child Life.

During her time at UW-Madison, Cassie was involved in the Adaptive Fitness volunteer program and the Special Olympics. It is through these programs that she found her passion for working with individuals with special needs. Her favorite part about working at Gio’s is seeing the kids grow and work toward their goals in fun ways.

When not at Gio’s, Cassie is a teacher at Little Red Preschool and enjoys spending her free time reading, hiking, doing DIY projects and playing with her yellow lab.



There are a number of volunteers that might assist throughout the year. Many are PT/OT students (or other related fields) that are looking for hands on experience for classes, some volunteers are retired special education teachers or nurses; and other volunteers are parents or other people who want to give back to the community. All volunteers must go through a training session before they start working with any children.