Work Together, Play Together
Olenka Villarreal, Founder and VisionaryFavorite thing at Magical Bridge Playground:“I love the top level of the playhouse café — gazing over the magic of the playground through the beautiful windows above the stage always makes my day!” Founder of the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, Magical Bridge Foundation and Vice President of the Friend of the Palo Alto Parks, Olenka brought together an effective team of experts, City officials and volunteers to design and develop the groundbreaking Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, CA. She has since emerged as a respected industry leader and advocate for playgrounds that reflect the needs of everybody in the community. She is co-inventor of several new technologies that enhance the play experience for individuals with special needs, and serves on several boards including Life Services Alternatives in San Jose. Prior to Magical Bridge, Olenka served as the Director of Marketing for TotalPass, Inc. and Siemens Communication amongst other roles for Silicon Valley companies. She has a degree in Economics / Public Policy and an MBA in Marketing. In June 2014, she was presented with the prestigious Jefferson Service Award in recognition for her efforts to make the Magical Bridge Playground a reality, and April 2016, Olenka was awarded the Outstanding Citizen Volunteer Tall Tree award from the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce. Olenka and her creative and musical husband live in Palo Alto with their two beautiful daughters and an adorable dog named Bailey.
Jill Asher, co-FounderFavorite thing to play on at Magical Bridge Playground:“The Disc Swing! I love to swing, and especially LOVE swinging TOGETHER with my daughters. I laugh so hard that tears of joy stream down my face!” On any given Sunday, you may find Jill playing at Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto with her six-year-old daughter. In addition to leading the Public Relations and Digital Media Strategy for Magical Bridge Foundation, Jill actively engages with communities to promote inclusive play and kindness through a full spectrum of communications and fundraising programs. She is instrumental in promoting the values and principles of Magical Bridge to the media and the global community. Prior to her work at Magical Bridge, she served as Director of Public Relations for Appcelerator, Co-Founder and General Partner of SVMoms group, Vice President of Human Resources for Bessemer Ventures and Gloss.com and played similar roles for a number of Silicon Valley companies. She holds degrees in Economics and English. Jill and her CFO husband are the proud parents of three super talented girls and a cat named Kelsey (who thinks she’s a dog).
Kris Loew, co-FounderFavorite thing at Magical Bridge Playground:“I love the roller slide! I vibrate and laugh all the way down, which always reminds me to take some time to let loose and have fun.” Kris leads the effort to create an effective and consistent brand, messaging and visual communication strategy for Magical Bridge Foundation. She helps create the inviting, visual appeal for Magical Bridge Playgrounds to foster a sense of well being and calm amongst visitors, especially for individuals who may be highly sensitive to their visual surroundings. She runs her own Graphic Design firm, is co-founder of Poketti, LLC, and previously served as Director of Marketing Communication for Brio Technology. She has a BA degree in English. As a volunteer, Kris mentors students in entrepreneurship and design, and provides graphic design and photography for various schools and civic projects. She lives in Palo Alto with her husband, two creative daughters, and a super cute bunny named Willoughby.
Peter Jensen, Lead Designer and Landscape ArchitectPeter Jensen is the key architect behind the Magical Bridge Playground, and is instrumental in developing the original design philosophy of Magical Bridge’s mindfully-designed play environment. A founder and principal at Groundswell Design, Peter has been the Lead Manager for both private and public projects, including these public projects, including: Northwest Park – Las Vegas (2004); Jefferson Elementary School Playground – Santa Monica (2008); Eleanor Pardee Park Playground – Palo Alto (2011); Magical Bridge Playground – Palo Alto (2015); and Bowden Park Playground – Palo Alto (2016)
Greg Wolff, Board Member and Director of OperationsAs Executive Director of the non-profit UnaMesa Association, Greg helped the original Magical Bridge team establish the Magical Bridge Foundation as an independent non-profit with the processes and resources necessary to partner with cities to create additional Magical Bridge Playgrounds that build upon and improve the original design. Greg founded the UnaMesa Association to support community-based innovations in health, education, and social services. Prior to that, Greg served as a Vice President for Ricoh Innovations and has been a lead inventor and research scientist spanning the fields of information technology, machine learning, and professional services.
Barbara Butler, Custom Wood Structure DesignerFounder of Barbara Butler Artist-Builder, Inc, Barbara is one of the nation’s premier architects and builders of custom wood playhouses. Over the past 30 years, she has constructed hundreds of imaginative play spaces for both public and private spaces. These unique, custom projects involve tough terrains, unusual sites, special circumstances or special requests, such as matching existing architectural elements. Her projects have long exceeded ADA accessibility standards and ASTM compliance and use all natural and sustainable materials. Barbara designed and built the very first wheelchair-accessible two-story playhouse for Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto.
Jay Beckwith, Playground Apparatus DesignerSince the 1970s, Jay has been a leading voice in the design and development of play experiences that align with and support the critical needs of both children and adults for physical activity that enhances growth and well-being. Equipment based on Jay’s design for a “Post and Deck” system can be seen in almost every modern playground. Jay has written several books on designing and building children’s play equipment. He has also been involved with safety commissions, is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector, and has written publications and developed programs for playground safety. He has consulted with several playground manufacturers in their design processes and pushed towards new directions in play environments. He holds a lifetime achievement from Gymboree Play and Music for making this world a better place to play.
Doaa Hamed Elwany
Favorite thing to play on at Magical Bridge Playground: “The Slide Mound is my favorite! I love sliding with my twins and I enjoy seeing their smiles while they slide despite of the sheer difference in their size and abilities”
Doaa made the connection with Magical Bridge Foundation as being a loyal visitor with her family to the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto. Doaa is the proud parent of twins. Her daughter Kenzie has special needs caused by a rare genetic condition called Williams Syndrome. Her kids enjoy the Playground very much equally. Doaa serves as Director of Business Development for the Foundation. She is the founder of Tangerine Consulting and serves as the Regional Chair for the Williams Syndrome Association. She is also a family coach and special education advocate for many families in the Bay Area. In the past, Doaa served as Director of Marketing and Business Assessment for Stanford University and, previously, held several Marketing leadership roles with global companies including Citigroup, FritoLay, and Microsoft.
Favorite thing to play on at Magical Bridge Playground: The Community Stage. I love watching my two young daughters run straight to the stage each time we visit, full of confidence and smiles while they sing and dance.
Deborah’s career began in corporate event planning, which eventually led to various marketing positions at Bay Area medical device start-ups. At Avinger, Inc, Deborah was the Director of Marketing Communications before taking over as the Director of Brand, Creative and Interactive. Following Avinger, she helped start Recreation, Inc, a brand strategy, and design agency headquartered in San Francisco. After taking a break from the corporate world to spend a few important years home with her young children, Deborah has rejoined the working world as Director of Community Engagement for Magical Bridge Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization bringing truly inclusive and innovative Magical Bridge Playgrounds to select Bay Area communities.
Favorite thing to play on at Magical Bridge Playground: I love the Net Spinner! My two young boys love climbing up and down it and working with other kids to spin it around.
Meg’s career began by working for the federal Environmental Protection Agency and for the City of San Francisco in environmental education and outreach. At her most recent job at the City of San Francisco, she designed and implemented large-scale education programs for both adults and children, teaching them to tread lightly on our planet.
Meg has two wonderful, rambunctious boys- Lucas is her 8 year old biological child with her husband and was born with special needs. Logan is her 4 year old, whom they adopted at birth from Anchorage, AK. After spending some important years at home with the boys, Meg is reentering into the working world as the Director of Community Outreach for Magical Bridge Foundation.
The Magical Bridge Board of Advisors
- Jill Asher Founder, Magical Bridge Foundation and original member of Magical Bridge Playground team
- Jay Beckwith “Father of Modern Day Playground,” Former President, Kompan, Consultant, Boundless Playgrounds
- Dawn Billman Director of Leadership, Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and original member of MBP team
- Ben Crockett Founding Partner, Peery Partners and strategic advisor to Magical Bridge Foundation
- Jill Escher Attorney, President of Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area, Chair of Autism Adult Housing and Lifespan Care Solutions Initiative, and Escher Fund for Autism
- Karen Holman City of Palo Alto Mayor 2015, member City Council since 2010
- Peter Jensen City of Palo Alto Landscape Architect, Inclusive Design Expert for Magical Bridge Playground
- Adam S. Juratovac Attorney and Founder, AthletesLTD
- Kimberly Lin Part of the original Palo Alto playground leadership team, and a valued community advocate
- Xin Liu President of Enlight Foundation, advocate for improving education inequality and anchor donor for Magical Bridge Playground and Magical Bridge Foundation
- Kris Loew Founder, Magical Bridge Foundation and original member of Magical Bridge Playground team
- Nicole Ofiesh, PhD Learning and Educational Specialist, Stanford University researcher and internationally reknown speaker about inclusive education
- Joyce Reynolds-Sinclair, PhD Managing Director, GEO Strategic Services and co-founder/Strategic Advisor to Association for Strategic Planning NorCal chapter
- Abra Siegel Healthcare executive with extensive background in strategic initiatives and operations
- Amanda Steckler Anchor donor of Magical Bridge Playground and Magical Bridge Foundation
- Vince Stecker Anchor donor of Magical Bridge Playground and Magical Bridge Foundation and CEO, Avast Software
- Olenka Villarreal Chairperson, Founder & Visionary, Magical Bridge Foundation and Magical Bridge Playground
- Holly Wade, PhD, Former Assistant Superintendent, Student Services of Palo Alto Unified School District, former Director of Special Education for both Palo Alto and Los Gatos-Saratoga Districts
- Greg Wolff Magical Bridge Foundation Director of Operations and Finance, Founder of UnaMesa Association
JOIN THE MOVEMENTJoin us as we spread the joy of Magical Bridge Playground throughout the Bay Area and nationwide! Magical Bridge Foundation seeks partners, suppliers, artists, designers, and sponsors as we bring innovative and inclusive playgrounds to more communities. Our valued partners engage in the brainstorming and development process, feedback and usage studies, community engagement events, and placement and construction activities. Bringing a playground to life is an exciting process, and when it’s innovative and inclusive to all ages and abilities, the rewards are beyond compare. As a vendor, supplier, volunteer, artist, designer, or construction partner, we hope you’ll join us on our incredible journey. We thank the following partners who have joined Magical Bridge Foundation in our mission to bring more innovative and inclusive playgrounds to life:
- Babygrand Web Design
- Barbara Butler Artist-Builder, Inc.
- Enlight Foundation
- Groundswell Landscape Design
- Jen Lewin, Artist
- Northbound Films
- RHAA Landscape Architects
- UnaMesa Association
- Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati