When a child faces medical challenges, the whole family is affected.
Project Sunshine brings volunteer-led programming to pediatric patients and their families in a variety of medical settings. We recognize the tremendous weight of managing a child’s illness or injury, whether it requires short-term or long-term care. Every child with a medical challenge is unique, and our programs seek to adapt to the individual needs of each child.
We partner with medical facilities across the United States and beyond to provide opportunities for play in the medical environment- restoring a crucial sense of normalcy for patients and their families.
To deliver the healing power of play to children with medical needs through passionate and dedicated volunteers.
A Journey of Joy
Founding & History
Envisioning healing through play
In 1998, college student Joe Weilgus visited a friend in the hospital. Walking by the pediatric wing, he noticed so many young patients sitting alone in their rooms with nothing to do. Unable to forget what he saw, Joe returned to the hospital the following week dressed up as a clown determined to spread cheer.
Joe’s positive energy boosted the morale of scared patients and anxious caregivers. Through “clowning around” with the kids and keeping them company, he realized that every young patient could benefit from the same support and companionship. He recruited classmates to join him in his volunteer efforts to brighten the lives of local pediatric patients. Shortly after, other college campuses expressed interest in making a difference, with Joe’s co-workers later doing the same.
And Project Sunshine was born.
Officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1999, Project Sunshine opened its first professional office in New York City in the early 2000s. US based programs continued to flourish during this time, and in 2006 Project Sunshine launched its first international program in Mombasa, Kenya.
Today, Project Sunshine operates programs in 5 countries, impacts over 150,000 pediatric patients and their families, and provides meaningful community service opportunities to over 18,000 volunteers. We work hard to raise awareness for the emotional needs of children facing medical challenges and their often forgotten caregivers.
Reach by Numbers
We work with healthcare staff to create a space for kids to socialize and play. Each year, over 3 million children are hospitalized in the United States. 30% of chronically ill kids face academic disruption, missing out on instruction and social interactions.
Project Sunshine's staff is the heart of the organization. We are passionate about kids and big fans of fun. We strive to embody the spirit of our founder and make every day and every smile count.
Whitney Namm PollackShe/Her
Whitney joined Project Sunshine as the Executive Director in 2018. She has built her career over the last twenty years at the Robin Hood Foundation, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, University of Pennsylvania and 92nd Street Y. She has consulted with non-profits including the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Character Lab, Riverdale Country School and The Center for Jewish History.
Before coming to Project Sunshine, she served as Interim Executive Director for EB Research Partnership, a national medical venture philanthropy. After completing this leadership role she accepted a position on their Board of Directors. She received her BA and MA from Penn and is a member of the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women.
In her downtime, she can be found spending time with her husband and two young sons or reading fiction.
CHILDHOOD FACT: According to family lore, for years the only “vegetable” Whitney would eat was olives. Now, she eats all sorts of vegetables.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Amneet is Project Sunshine’s Marketing & Communications Coordinator. She’s passionate about bringing creative ideas to life that speak to the community. Before joining Project Sunshine, she worked in tech building marketing campaigns and strategies for a variety of audiences. She’s also been a health advocate for a non-profit organization that improves lives for those affected by rare skin conditions, like hers.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Amneet joined the theater club when she was young and landed her first role as an Oompa Loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Since then, she continued to be a cast member in plays until high school.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Hannah is passionate about bringing light to both the extraordinary and the mundane stories of people’s lives. Prior to Project Sunshine, Hannah served at DREAM, an education nonprofit, as the Director of Communications. Over her nine years at DREAM, she built a powerful brand narrative for the organization by highlighting authentic stories of individuals and teams. She was responsible for both internal and external communications for the organization. Most recently, she was at Praxis, a nonprofit serving entrepreneurs, managing marketing efforts around original content while supporting entrepreneurs with developing clear organizational narratives. Hannah is a proud Michigan Wolverine. She lives with her husband and daughter in New Jersey.
Childhood Fact: Hannah developed her love for coffee at the age of 4 when her grandma would sneak the last sip to her every morning without her parents knowing. It was especially a treat because Hannah’s grandma would daily use 7 packets of sugar. Today, Hannah mostly drinks her coffee black but will reach for a sweet sip to honor her beloved halmuni.
Rouane joined Project Sunshine in the fall of 2019 and brings with him more than a decade of nonprofit’s best practices and operations experience in human resources, technology, and management. As our Operations Manager, Rouane leads our operations and provides high-level administrative support to our Executive Director and her team.
Rouane has a strong track record in philanthropy, with an emphasis on being a partner and a resource to the leadership team. Previously, he worked at the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) for more than a decade, most recently serving as the Office Manager. While at the NCF — a private family foundation working to create a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society through grantmaking in the United States and Israel — Rouane took a leading role in managing the NCF’s Ladder of Opportunity Internship Program and overseeing office administration.
Before joining NCF, Rouane was a teacher assistant at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, NY through an Academic Peer Instruction program, a free peer tutor initiative that helps students succeed in their courses.
Rouane graduated summa cum laude from the City College’s Groove School of Engineering in New York. He is a native of Togo, West Africa and speaks about half-dozen languages.
Manager of Corporate Partnerships
Shelley collaborates with Project Sunshine's corporate partners to build engaging and meaningful volunteer opportunities. Sharing her passion for the mission of Project Sunshine and the amazing children and families we serve brings her professional joy and purpose each day. Shelley previously worked in college admissions and college counseling, and her love of fostering relationships, initially with students and families and now with corporate partners, has been a highlight of her career. In her free time, Shelley loves cheering on NYC sports teams, planning an adventure with her husband, and seeing her favorite musicians in concert.
CHILDHOOD FACT: One of Shelley's prized possessions when she was a little girl was her Smurfs sleeping bag, which she would often put out on the living room floor and snuggle in. One of her favorite childhood pictures includes Shelley, her sister, her brother…and the Smurfs sleeping bag
Pediatric Experience Coordinator
Tenzin Dickyi is our Pediatric Experiences Program Coordinator. She graduated from Colgate University with a B.A in Educational Studies and Women’s Studies where she passionately advocated for women of color. Before joining us, she was a Care Coordinator and Memorial Sloan Kettering, guiding cancer patients through their outpatient appointments. She is so excited to join Project Sunshine’s team and further the work PS is doing!
Childhood fact: Tenzin didn’t know that she spoke two different languages (English and Tibetan), until she reached Kindergarten where she was confused why no one could understand her when she spoke Tibetan.
Coordinator, Project Sunshine Israel
Ariela manages volunteers and operations abroad as the on-site program coordinator for Project Sunshine Israel. Ariela gained her expertise in early childhood development through her work in preschools and early childhood daycare programs. Since 2016, she has been using her wealth of experience managing fun-filled bedside programs at 6 medical facilities throughout Israel. She proudly continues the Project Sunshine tradition of dressing up for our patients- Ariela holds a certification in Medical Clowning from the Simchat Halev Organization. Ariela speaks four languages and loves to travel.
CHILDHOOD FACT: As a 4 year old, Ariela received a yellow Canary, named Olly. Unfortunately, she had to part from Olly about a year later when her family immigrated from Argentina to Israel.
Gregory is Project Sunshine’s Development Manager. He became interested in the non-profit world at a young age and even founded his own organization called “Threads to Thrive” as a high school student. He graduated from The George Washington University, before moving to Amsterdam, Netherlands to explore the intersection of sport and social impact at the Johan Cruyff Institute’s Master of Sport Management program. Most recently, Greg worked at The Over Under Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to increasing access to play for youth around the country.
When he is not working, you can find Greg being constantly let down by his favorite sports teams.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Greg has never been a history buff. In fact, there is an entire family photo album dedicated to all the tourist attractions where he has been caught napping.
Corporate Partnerships Coordinator
Camille serves as the Corporate Partnerships Coordinator for Project Sunshine and works to support corporate volunteerism and social impact while bringing play and joy to children. Camille has been a tireless child advocate for much of her life, beginning with volunteering at Head Start in Cleveland, Ohio. Most recently, Camille worked on engagement programming for Child Life Specialists, and is excited to bring her passion for child advocacy to Project Sunshine and this role! Camille enjoys spending time with her husband and family and rooting for all Cleveland sports teams.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Camille’s parents often say they knew she would grow up to be a tough cookie because when she was delivered, she had balled up fists for hours.
Director, Volunteer Engagement
Kaitlin manages Project Sunshine’s volunteer programs, working with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers across the country. Kaitlin has a passion for volunteerism and has spent her career developing sustainable volunteer programs for various organizations.
Prior to joining Project Sunshine in 2019, Kaitlin worked at the Girl Scouts of the USA, where she was responsible for driving strategy to design and implement volunteer delivery models that aligned with girl and volunteer demands, and increased membership and market share. Kaitlin also worked at NYC Service, a division of the New York City Mayor’s Office. During her time at NYC Service, she oversaw all external relationships and managed the recruitment, placement and tracking of volunteers to NYC Service initiatives. Kaitlin received her Executive Master’s in Public Administration from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College and her BA in Political Science from Dickinson College. In her free time, you can find Kaitlin spending time with her husband, and traveling to new and interesting places around the world.
CHILDHOOD FACT: In the eighth grade, Kaitlin won first place in physical science at the Connecticut State Science Fair for her project on Buckminsterfullerenes (aka “bucky balls”). This was her first and last serious foray into the world of science.
Corporate Partnerships Coordinator (Steward)
At Project Sunshine, Mary helps to guide corporate partners in giving back through virtual, in office, and in hospital engagement opportunities. Mary graduated from University of Connecticut in 2019 with a dual degree in both English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies. Before working with Project Sunshine, Mary worked with a disability rights nonprofit in Boston helping folks access their Medicaid benefits. Mary has always been passionate about serving others and building relationships with people in an effort to bring more equity and ease to the world around them. In her free time, Mary enjoys reading, cooking, doing a daily yoga practice, and spending time with friends.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Mary is a survivor of early childhood cancer and spent time in treatment during the first 4 years of their life. Mary has been cancer free ever since, but the memories of friends, family, and everyone at the hospital rallying around her and bringing playfulness and joy to scary, overwhelming moments are still cherished by her to this day.
Director of Pediatric Experience
Meg oversees Project Sunshine’s national programs and medical facility and nonprofit partnerships. Meg’s passion for pediatrics led her to pursue a career as a Certified Child Life Specialist, supporting patients and families both in and out of the hospital setting for over a decade.
Prior to working with Project Sunshine, Meg worked in at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Patient Experience to innovate and enhance numerous pediatric programs. At Cohen Children’s Medical Center of NY, Meg was the lead CCLS of the inpatient surgical unit. As a once former employee of Project Sunshine, Meg is thrilled to return to Project Sunshine yet again to further the impact and reach of its programs across the US.
Chief of Staff
Katy leads the charge as Project Sunshine’s Chief of Staff. Prior to working at Project Sunshine, Katy led girls’ education programs in the Peace Corps and large-scale volunteer programs for dozens of nonprofits in NYC. When she’s not working, you can find Katy exploring with her husband and dog or eating her way through all the dollar slice joints in the city.
CHILDHOOD FACT: An animal enthusiast from birth, Katy spent her summers as a Junior Zookeeper at the Dallas Zoo while caring for up to 8 pets at home. Her father never recovered from the “home zoo” where he resided.
Associate Manager of Strategic Projects
Theresa is an integral part of the Volunteer Engagement and Pediatric Experience teams supporting the elevation and enhancement of programming and partnerships. She joins us with over a decade of experience working as a Certified Child Life Specialist and Educator. Whether teaching elementary and middle school students stateside or abroad, empowering children and families in the hospital setting, Theresa's passion has always been working with the pediatric population.
She enjoys dancing, singing, and taking long warm wagon walks in the Florida sun with her family, including her rambunctious twin toddlers!
CHILDHOOD FACT: Theresa was quite the theatrical youngster. Her mother constantly retells the story in which Theresa was hosting her daily television show on her stage in the garage, 'Theresa Explains it All', when her mom accidentally closed the garage door and shut out her pretend audience. She cried for hours that her fans missed the show. It is still a sensitive subject.
Dennis Ngui Muyangahe/him
Manager, Project Sunshine Kenya
Dennis manages a robust, dedicated team of Project Sunshine volunteers in Kenya- a few of his volunteers have been with him since 2006! Prior to his work with Project Sunshine, Dennis was a community health worker at Bomu Hospital and an addiction counselor in an outreach center. Dennis is one of the pioneers of our Kenya program and has seen Project Sunshine through many exciting developments, including the construction of a hospital play area. Dennis’ work with Project Sunshine allows him to combine his diverse skills and experience with his passion for empowering families to have healthy lives. Dennis holds a BA in Project Planning and Management from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In his downtime, he enjoys reading, attending motivational talks, and having quality time with his family. He is the proud father of two daughters, Abigail and Ciela.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Dennis grew up in Kitui County, in a place known as Ikanga. He loved playing football so much at school and in the community that he was nicknamed “Kadenge,” after a famous footballer.
Louise St. Roseshe/her
Program Operations Manager
Louise coordinates the shipment of craft kits and program boxes for our Sending Sunshine and Direct Service programs nationwide. Before coming to Project Sunshine, Louise worked at after-school programs throughout three boroughs of New York City. In her spare time, Louise enjoys exploring Inwood Hill park with her dog, Shiro, and listening to podcasts.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Growing up, Louise’s parents owned an ice cream store. She even had a sundae on the menu named after her – the LouLou Brownie Sundae! Although her parents sold the business, Louise followed her love of ice cream and worked at a frozen custard shop all four years of high school.
Volunteer Engagement Coordinator
Chloe joins Project Sunshine as our Volunteer Engagement Coordinator. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from Lehigh University where she founded a non-profit dedicated to empowering America’s youth to reclaim their civic agency through political activism. In addition, she served as the Campaign Manager for the current mayor of the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Chloe has had a mission to make the world a better place since she was young and is thrilled to be pursuing this passion at Project Sunshine.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Chloe’s favorite activity as a kid was doing backflips off anything possible. Whether it was off a set of monkey bars into the snow, off a balcony into water, or just on the grass outside her house, Chloe was upside down!
Annie Sullivan McCallumshe/her
Director of Development
Annie joined Project Sunshine in 2023 and oversees the organization’s fundraising efforts. She loves building relationships with supporters and sharing how philanthropy advances Project Sunshine’s vital play programs. Prior to Project Sunshine, Annie was a Major Gift Officer and Planned Giving Manager at the Field Museum in Chicago. Previously, Annie served as a Senior Campaign Director at CCS Fundraising, where she partnered with non-profits across the Midwest to raise funds for transformational community projects. Annie’s favorite hobbies include playing tennis and golf, traveling, and spending time with her family. Annie will be graduating with her MBA this May from Loyola University Chicago, Baumhart Scholars program. She earned her BA in History from Yale University.
CHILDHOOD FACT: Annie was a sports lover from a young age and as a child participated (always competitively) in soccer, tee-ball/softball, basketball, tennis, and swimming.
Director, International Programs
Shapari serves as the Director of International Programs, which oversees Project Sunshine’s work in Canada, Israel, and Kenya.
Prior to joining Project Sunshine, Shapari lived in Africa, Asia, and Europe working for non-profits, the public and private sectors, and the United Nations. She received her masters from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and her bachelors from Pomona College.
CHILDHOOD FACT: One year, Shapari forgot her lines at an annual recital and started laughing uncontrollably from nervousness. Eventually the audience joined in the laughter, and she didn’t complete her lines. She was never again asked to perform at the recital.
Digital Strategy Coordinator
Alexis joins Project Sunshine as the Digital Strategy Coordinator. She is passionate about crafting delightful and efficient experiences on and off the screen. She has most recently been a freelance designer, doing web and mobile design and development, marketing content, and branding for a variety of clients including startups and non-proﬁt organizations. She enjoys perfecting her morning coffee brew, dancing, reading, and watching films.
CHILDHOOD FACT: As a baby, her parents would use color coded socks to tell her apart from her identical twin sister. Though sometimes, her father would prank her mother and swap the socks.
Shana Van Valkenburgshe/her
Director, Corporate Partnerships
Shana serves as the Director of Corporate Partnerships, overseeing virtual, in office and in hospital engagement opportunities as well as strategic partnerships. She has been working with corporate and individual donors and volunteers for nearly a decade with the ultimate goal of facilitating meaningful impact. Prior to working in Nonprofit, Shana was a production coordinator in entertainment across soap operas, award shows and reality TV. In her free time, she likes to be outdoors relaxing on a beach or hiking and backpacking with her husband and dog, Pickles.
CHILDHOOD FACT: As an only child, Shana wanted a sibling so badly she told everyone at her preschool that her downstairs neighbor (and schoolmate) was her brother. She was so convincing that a teacher approached Shana’s mom to speak about her son’s progress.
Board of Directors
Meet the passionate individuals who serve on our Board.
Chairman of the Board, Project Sunshine
Chief Accessibility Officer, NYS Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
Senior Vice President, Commercial Marketing Cloud, Salesforce
President & COO, NFP
Gerald M. Loughlin, M.D.
Founder and CEO, Leather Honey
Nonprofit Executive and Strategic Consultant
Senior Vice President, Key Bank
Bernard M. Rosof, M.D.
CEO, Quality in Healthcare Advisory Group, LLC
Founding Executive Director, Project Sunshine
Chief Operating and Financial Officer, CC Capital
CEO and Co-Founder, Silverline
SVP Marketing, PepsiCo
Tylis Family Foundation
Caryn Stoll Unger
Robin Wilpon Wachtler, MSW
Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation
Founder and Chair Emeritus, Project Sunshine; CEO, New Legacy
Partner (retired), PwC
Senior Director of Marketing, PepsiCo
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