New York Society of Play

The New York Society of Play is a family services provider committed to making the most of playtime.

  • At the New York Society of Play, every game has a lesson to offer. Through play, we hone social and problem-solving skills, as well as mathematical and textual literacy!
  • Our instructors are experts in the games they play and are committed to turning each game into a learning experience.
  • We strongly believe that play is for everyone. We offer game-based workshops for families, classmates, old friends, and new friends! Foster new relationships, strengthen existing ones, and come together with your loved ones.
  • Our classes and workshops currently take place both in-person and virtually.
About New York Society of Play


Our Founders

Alioune has managed game-related children’s programming for more than ten years, during which time he established core programs for several after-school child-care organizations. His mission with the New York Society of Play is two-fold: (1) to help kids find a safe space in which to express themselves and pursue their interests and (2) to do so at affordable rates which make them accessible to children of all backgrounds. He has been a passionate fan of Pokemon since the beginning of the franchise and has extensive experience with competitive trading card games, and founded NYSoP to be the kind of organization which he would have liked to have access to when he was young.

Ellen grew up in Long Island, New York as a “second-generation gamer” of sorts. Raised on board games and role playing games taught by her father, she developed a taste for gaming early in life. Her background in fantasy and role play was further enhanced by D’Aulaires’ books of Greek and Norse myths, along with the writings of Jorge Luis Borges. After studying literature and foreign languages at NYU, she returned to her gaming roots. One of her main goals as Head of Operations for New York Society of Play is to make gaming more accessible, particularly for young girls, through the cultivation of a supportive, open-minded community.

Our Team

About Whit
I’ve worked in childcare since 2015, and have a BFA in Acting from Pace University.

Seeing the joy kids experience while having fun, playing games, and thinking critically both interests and excites me.

Watching them take the games and systems we make and build on them with their own ideas is both rewarding and inspiring. This is a dream job and I’m so blessed and happy to be able to do it.

In my free time, I like to design new games, play Magic the Gathering, play basketball, and blow the trumpet!

Core Values
Honesty, listening, and being patient in the face of frustration.

Knowledge of many, many games, a good sense of improv, and a vivid imagination for storytelling.

D&D, Fantasy Frontier, Pokémon Battles, Pokémon TCG, Board Games, Non-D&D RPG systems.


  • D&D Class – Druid by far. I love the flexibility and creativeness you need to play a sweet Druid. Being able to turn into any animal allows you to be really free and expressive with your character.
  • Pokémon – Gotta be Muk. It’s a big blob of goop with a smile :) hard not to love!
  • Quote – “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day” – Winnie The Pooh
About Rafi
Before and while earning a B.A. in Music and Theatre Arts from Brown University, I served in many roles with various theatrical organizations. My focus was acting, writing, and directing –  all of which are skills that I have brought with me to the NYSoP.

I work in childcare because imagination is something that is very strong during youth, and can remain strong throughout the aging process as long as it has a solid foundation. During my childhood, I had counselors, teachers, and mentors who encouraged the growth of my imagination. Especially in this modern world where kids have access to all kinds of artificial entertainment, I enjoy helping them embrace and cultivate their imaginations in a fun and healthy manner.

The most inspiring part of working at the NYSoP is the community. We all have each other’s backs. We teach “The Social Contract,” which is something we wouldn’t be able to do effectively if we didn’t practice those values ourselves. 

In my free time, I like to play D&D – both as a player and DM. I also compose music, both songs, and orchestral scores. I’m currently working on a musical. I also like to bake – my favorites to make are custard tarts and cinnamon rolls.

Core Values
The value that drives me most is empathy. I strive to listen to others and put myself in another person’s position before I make decisions or judgments. Apart from that,  imagination. Human creativity is something unmatched by anything else in the world, and it would be a waste not to use it at every opportunity.

Improvisation. Throughout my career in theatre, I’ve learned how to improvise well, especially in stressful situations. So whether that means coming up with a new game to play, making up a storyline to follow, or figuring out what to say to help a kid jump a metaphorical hurdle, my improvisational skills never lie dormant in this job.

D&D, Fantasy Frontier, Board Games


  • D&D Class – Druids because of their versatility. I love finding creative solutions to difficult problems, and the Druid class has so many cool features and abilities that I am never at a loss for creative solutions.
  • Pokémon – Bulbasaur. It’s adorable.
  • Quote – “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi
About Ryan
I have owned and operated my own events and portrait photography business in NYC for almost twenty years. I’ve earned Masters and Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees in Acting from the University of California at Irvine and Ithaca College respectively.

I chose to work in childcare because I love introducing kids to games, helping them develop healthy gaming habits, watching them meet new friends, and creating the phenomenal stories only kids can tell.

The most inspiring part of working at the NYSoP is learning new perspectives, games, and ways of playing from kids and my coworkers.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my nine and six-year-old sons, playing board games, watching movies, reading, swimming in any available body of water, and taking long adventure road trips with my family.

Core Values
Building community, sharing, generosity, and providing kids with a safe place to be themselves.

Improvisational storytelling, making the rules and boundaries we set fun and enjoyable, and turning negatives into positives.

D&D, Fan
tasy Frontier, Pokémon Battles, Pokémon TCG, Board Games, Non-D&D RPG systems.


  • D&D Class – Cleric. I love classes that support other party members so they can do more, better, and for a longer time. Keep the fun moving!
  • Pokémon – Armored Mewtwo
  • Quote – “I didn’t get a ‘Harumph’ outta that guy…” Or, anything Mel Brooks.


About Evan
I hold a BFA from NYU in Drama with a minor in mathematics and computer science. I chose to work in childcare because I love working with kids and playing games.

For me, the most inspiring part of working at the NYSoP is getting to watch students who are new to D&D discover the magic of collective storytelling.

In my free time, I play an excessive amount of video games and film videos with my friends.

Core Values
Anything is achievable with enough hard work/discipline and any problem can be solved with honest, direct, and respectful communication.

My theatrical training (my silly voices) and an unwavering good attitude.

D&D, Fantasy Frontier, Minecraft, Board Games


  • D&D Class – Rogue, because it was the first class I played and I love me some sneak attack.
  • Pokémon – Magickarp. It’s the ugly duckling that turns into a beautiful swan.
  • Quote“When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave life wondering how you did it.”

About Sarah
I hold an M.S. in Management and a B.A. in English and Communications. I began my career working in fundraising at a college in upstate NY while writing on the side. I eventually joined Futurism, a science and technology digital media company. After five years of writing, leading strategy, and helping to make science accessible to all, the company was acquired.
I re-focused on my freelance career, where I work as a science writer and marketing specialist. I’ve had the opportunity to consult on Netflix-bound projects, marketing campaigns for my favorite horror movies, and even speak at the United Nations.

I chose to work in childcare to help kids experience, embrace, and be proud of their less-mainstream hobbies, and to encourage lifelong learning in a non-classroom setting. The most inspiring aspect of working at the NYSoP is being a part of something that directly benefits my community – and knowing that I’m contributing to an organization that I wish I had as a kid.

In my free time, I love cooking, playing Pokémon on my Switch, painting,  playing the guitar and violin, and watching horror movies.

Core Values
Integrity, compassion, authenticity, curiosity, and simply making the world better for others.

Flexibility, determination, creativity, and of course – humor!

D&D, Non-D&D RPG systems, Pokémon


  • D&D Class – Fighter: Arcane Archer – I like being able to defend my party, but doing so at a distance. I also love archery in real life.
  • Pokémon – Piplup
  • Quote- “Sometimes, science is more art than science.”

About Marielle
I have a B.A. in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College (go Bulldogs!) with a focus on Fiction. I have worked a motley of jobs before joining NYSoP.

I chose to work in childcare because making a difference for a kid – in any way possible – makes all the difference. I strive to be the person that a younger me needed as a child.

The kids at the NYSoP are absolutely incredible. They come up with stuff that always has me on the edge of my seat. They have boundless creativity.

In my free time, I like to play video games and crochet.

Core Values
I’m going to be honest and say the values in the Social Contract that we follow – safety, trust, respect, cooperation, and consent. When you hear it every day, you learn to live by it.

I’d like to think that I have the ability to make people feel valued and heard. I also have the energy to keep it at 110% – which is very useful in childcare!

D&D, Fantasy Frontier, Minecraft, Pokémon Battles, Board Games, Non-D&D RPG systems


  • D&D Class – Anything martial. You’ll never catch me with a spell component in my hand – EVER.
  • Favorite Pokémon – Wooper!
About Meredith
I graduated in 2020 with a major in Medieval Studies and a minor in Art History from Fordham University; subject matters which have been useful to draw on when coming up with storylines for our in-person summer program. Professionally, I have worked with children both as a monitor at an elementary school and as a staff member at the local pool.

I find working with children to be a  rewarding experience, especially when it comes to fostering social and emotional skills. Helping a child connect with others and express themselves in a healthy way is something I take pride in, and helping kids have fun makes me feel like I am making a positive impact.

When I was a kid, I would have loved to go to a camp where I could role-play as a wizard and battle monsters with swords. Children who have more niche interests in fantasy, RPGs, and card games deserve a space to be themselves and have fun with each other, so being able to provide that for kids inspires me to do the best I can.

In my free time, I enjoy drawing, reading, origami, running, tabletop RPGs, and video games. I have also become fond of baking.

Core Values
Empathy, kindness, and respect.

I think the most important skill I bring to my job is being able to help a child cooperate and have fun with the other kids and counselors. Beyond role-playing as a monster for the kids to fight or coming up with plot lines, the most important job of a counselor is to ensure the kids are physically and emotionally safe, and I believe that is something I contribute to.

D&D, Fantasy Frontier, Board Games


  • D&D Class – I love playing as a druid for the simple reason that turning into an animal is cool.
  • Favorite Pokemon – Poochyena and Mightyena
  • Quote “Don’t let the dragon drag on, man.” – Jake the Dog
About Will
I have been a teacher for more than seven years – so working with kids is a passion of mine. I have been playing D&D for more than six years and have been a DM for more than four. In total, I have been playing Pokémon for almost 20 years.

I chose to work in childcare because I love being around kids. It is never boring, they never fail to surprise you, and seeing a kid have an ‘ah-ha’ moment is one of the most satisfying experiences imaginable.

For me, the most inspiring part of working at the NYSoP is seeing the passion these kids have for the game – whether it is D&D, Pokémon, or something else.

In my free time, I enjoy gaming, reading, and spending time with friends.

Core Values
Compassion, empathy, and a desire to help kids become the best they can be while having a great time doing it.

A genuine passion for both the games in question and working with kids. I am also patient and adaptable.

D&D, Pokémon Battles, Pokémon TCG


  • D&D Class – Paladin- hard to hit, lots of HP, the ability to heal and cast spells, and SMITES!
  • Pokémon – Arcanine. No contest.
  • Quote – “I would like to mic-drop the kobold.”

About Taylor
I was a food server and bartender for nine years before moving into restaurant management in 2018. During my time in food service, I was also in a touring rock band for seven years based in Seattle, Washington.

I chose to work in childcare because the mentors I had growing up in theater and music changed my life forever. Being able to provide that support to the next generation of great minds is a dream come true.

The most inspiring part of working at NYSoP is seeing the immense social and emotional progress of every student who takes part in our programming. Gamers instinctively know how beneficial gaming can be, but I am always awed by the range and scope of benefits that every student takes away from our workshops.

In my free time, I love to make music and play chess! I really enjoy looking up new topics and teaching myself new things. I’m currently teaching myself Spanish and miniature painting.

Core Values
Honesty, integrity, communication, resiliency, and changing the world through one’s passions.

My best skill is certainly the ability to learn through mistakes. Never be afraid of failure, it’s the greatest teacher in the world.

D&D, Minecraft, Pokémon Battles, Pokémon TCG, Board Games, Non-D&D RPG systems


  • D&D Class – Druids. They’re just such a versatile player class. Their magic allows them to do massive damage from afar, to heal and support the party, or to overcome tricky situations without the use of skills. Their ability to turn into animals allows them to take on the role of a tank or a melee bruiser or to get into areas they normally wouldn’t be able to reach (climbing through a keyhole as an ant comes to mind).
  • Pokémon – Squirtle squad for life.
  • Quote – “The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability, as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will brittle in the face of adversity.” –International chess master Joshua Waitzkin, The Art of Learning