Our Mentors/Game Masters
The members of New York Society of Play’s team are not only experts in the games they lead – they are also mentors to the students that we teach. Our mentors are selected based on their ability to be kind, thoughful, and supportive. They serve as role models who exemplify our social contract, as well as trusted adults that our students can confide in.
Marielle has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College (go Bulldogs!) with a focus on Fiction and is currently pursuing an MS in Early Childhood and Childhood Education.
A wearer of many hats, she has worked a motley of jobs before joining NYSoP.
She chose to work in childcare because making a difference for a kid – in any way possible – makes all the difference. She strives to be the person that she 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 her free time, she likes to play video games and crochet.
Ryan has owned and operated his own events and portrait photography business in NYC for almost twenty years. He earned a Masters and Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees in Acting from the University of California at Irvine and Ithaca College respectively.
He chose to work in childcare because he loves introducing kids to games, helping them develop healthy gaming habits, watching them meet new friends, and creating the phenomenal stories only kids can tell.
For Ryan, the most inspiring part of working at the NYSoP is learning new perspectives, games, and ways of playing from kids and my coworkers.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his 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 his family.
Whit has worked in childcare since 2015, and has a BFA in Acting from Pace University. Seeing the joy kids experience while having fun, playing games, and thinking critically both interests and excites him. 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 he feels so blessed and happy to be able to do it.
In his free time, he likes to design new games, play Magic the Gathering, play basketball, and blow the trumpet!
Elizabeth grew up with her mother running a childcare business, and she was the resident babysitter of friends and family well into adulthood. As an adult she mostly did many different customer service jobs, working with people was always a passion, but working with kids even more so.
She believes that children have a remarkable gift for teaching you just as much as you teach them. It is rare to find a calling such as this that you never feel like you are actually working a day in your life, and yet it is one of the most important callings of all because kids are our future. She wants to be a part of ensuring that future.
In her free time, she plays a lot of dungeons and dragons. She socializes a great deal with friends through D&D, through her love of books, movies, and art. Friendships are very important to her, as well as spending time with her family.
Jeffrey received a BA in Theatre from Muhlenberg College, where he concentrated in Acting and Performance Studies. Over the years he’s taught chess, acting, and outdoors skills to kids through a variety of educational programs.
He gets a lot of joy from watching kids indulge in their imagination and creativity. Jeffrey believes in listening to what kids have to say and taking their thoughts and feelings seriously.
For Jeffrey, the most inspiring part of working at New York Society of Play is the notion that sitting around the table with character sheets feels like a new version of sitting around the campfire, telling communal stories. It’s exciting to watch kids learn the joy of working together to build a story.
In his free time, he plays video games and acts. He has also started the process of painting all of the D&D miniatures he’s collected over the years!
Leo has a background in both fiction and advertising. He’s been working with children professionally since 2015. He has been a professional DM and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor. Working with kids is something that he finds fun and rewarding since his journey began at age 15.
For Leo, the most inspiring part of working at New York Society of Play is seeing the kids mature emotionally and develop better problem solving methods.
In his free time, he plays just about every traditional game, tabletop roleplaying games, and hangs out with friends.
Ben is an NYU Game Center alumni with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.F.A in Game Design. He has worked as a sr. software engineer at Digital Continue and is an independent game developer. He chooses to work in childcare because he likes to have fun, to teach, and to grow as a mentor.
For Ben, the most inspiring part of working at New York Society of Play is seeing the kids play games; it helps remind him of the positive impact games can have.
In his free time, he likes to read, cook, host parties, ask big questions, play and listen to music, take walks in the park, play volleyball, watch anime, write, and play games with friends and family.
Chief Founder & Director
Alioune is the Creative Director of the New York Society of Play. He has been developing child gaming programs for more than a decade. He believes that games are a powerful tool for social and emotional growth because they provide the opportunity to confront challenging emotions that we all experience: victory and defeat, jealousy, competition, joy and sadness.
Alioune established the New York Society of Play’s Social Contract as the backbone of our program. The social contract also provides a framework for a healthy play environment where children can learn, grow, express themselves, and develop relationships, safely. Through the social contract, the NYSoP is able to establish clear boundaries, and provide vocabulary for children to calmly express their frustrations.
Alioune is the primary author of Fantasy Frontier, New York Society of Play’s proprietary Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) game. In his free time, Alioune enjoys playing trading card games. His current favorite is Flesh & Blood, but he also plays Magic the Gathering with his friends.
Founder, Head of Operations
Ellen has a BA in Comparative Literature and Romance Languages (Spanish and French) from NYU. In the past, she has worked as a technical writer and SAT tutor. She is also an amateur computer programming enthusiast.
When the COVID pandemic began, she moved New York Society of Play’s programs online using her experience in computers and virtual tutoring. Her methods laid the foundation for the New York Society of Play’s virtual programs, which are still running to this day!
Ellen grew up playing roleplaying games with her father as the Game Master and her brother as the other player. She finds it exciting how her obscure childhood hobby has become a mainstream activity!
In her free time, Ellen can be found at hackerspaces around the city. She’s currently learning about video game console modding and game preservation.
Jess has been working with children and after school based companies their entire adult life. They studied Education, and received a degree in Fine Art and Art Therapy. They also have done work in digital marketing with textile companies in NYC for the last year and a half and currently do Art Direction/Set Design on short films and commercials. Currently, they are teaching an after school cooking class to middle schoolers in Coney Island when not working with New York Society of Play.
Jess works in childcare because they are passionate about contributing to the growth and success of the kids. It’s important to them to be able to provide a safe and understanding space for them to thrive in.
In their free time they like to create. They make movies, take pictures, paint, draw, and craft.
Live Operations Manager
Before and while earning a B.A. in Music and Theatre Arts from Brown University, Raphael served in many roles with various theatrical organizations. His focus was acting, writing, and directing – all of which are skills that he has brought with him to New York Society of Play.
He works in childcare because of the counselors, teachers, and mentors he had who encouraged the growth of his own imagination. He enjoys helping kids embrace and cultivate their imaginations in a fun and healthy manner.
In his free time, he likes to play D&D – both as a player and DM. He composes music, both songs, and orchestral scores. He is currently working on a musical. He also likes to bake – his favorites to make are custard tarts and cinnamon rolls.
Online Manager/General Staff Manager
Taylor originally comes from a food service management background. During his time in food service, he was also in a touring rock band for seven years based in Seattle, Washington. Being able to provide support to the next generation of great minds is a dream come true for him.
For Taylor, the most inspiring part of working at New York Society of Play 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 his free time he loves to make music and play chess! He is currently teaching himself Spanish and miniature painting.