Read more about our founder and fearless leader here
Simmie met Steven in front of his original store when he asked her to skip down the hall with him for coffee. She started working at the store in 1988 before they married, then joined full time in 1994. Simmie’s expertise is special needs children, and she loves to play in her kitchen and test art materials. Before joining Child’s Play, Simmie worked in policy and advocacy for nonprofits. As a child, she played with her brother’s chess set, but instead of playing the game, she used the pieces for pretend play.
Our book buyer, Molly has worked at Child’s Play for nine years. She believes that books are the most important explorations of childhood, and she loves to happen upon a child happily reading in the store. At home, she plays bookcase Jenga (aka finding space for all of her books); puzzles with her son, Max; reads; hikes; and goes down slides. Her favorite children’s book is Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back, by Shel Silverstein.
In 1999, Deborah started the store's book section, where her children grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes in the corner. She loves matching books with kids and currently manages school book fairs. Formerly a journalist, Deborah is one of the founders of Mother Jones magazine and was a TV news producer. If you press her to name a favorite book, she’ll protest but then choose Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. As a child, she loved making her own paper dolls.
If Alexander isn’t discussing board games, you can find him engaged in an intense Whombatz battle with a customer. His current favorite game is Star Realms Frontiers, but he’ll have a different answer next month. Born and bred in D.C., Alexander loved his erector sets as a child, and his favorite children’s book is Dealing with Dragons. In his spare time, he enjoys DIY crafting, sailing, brain teasers and reading.
An artist by training, Kate specializes in arts and crafts at the store. She previously worked in art therapy at a special needs school and taught art. Known for her dry sense of humor, Kate keeps us laughing. In her spare time, she hangs out with her dog, Frank, and plays softball. Check out her art on her website.
A long-time customer, Lisa just had to join the team after watching her children grow up in the store. She loves modern art, reading and family game night and homeschooled her children for four years. Her favorite book as a child was A Wrinkle in Time, and her favorite toy was the dollhouse her father built. Lisa also works as a freelance communications consultant and writer.
The manager of the McLean store, Bregette has worked at Child’s Play “forever.” Although she has a degree in art history, Bregette used to make a list of books she would want in her own book store. Her favorite movie as a child was The Last Unicorn and now she adores anything by Pixar. In her spare time, you’ll find her playing board games and watching movies with her daughter, drawing and painting, and reading. As a child, she loved playing with He Man and She Ra.
For more than 10 years, Donetta has loved playing with children at the store. With a background in daycares, preschools and childbirth classes, you can probably guess that her favorite section of the store is infants. From property management to stained glass to tai chi, Donetta has dabbled in a lot of interesting work. In her free time, she likes jigsaw puzzles, tai chi, meditation and reading. As a child, she read all of the Nancy Drew books.
As the book manager in McLean, Sara loves geeking out about books all day. Although they dabble in games and crafts, books are 100 percent their heart. Sara knew they wanted to be a librarian since they were three years old. For fun, they play with yarn, LEGOs, board games and adorable cats (because every book person is required to also be a cat person). Their favorite children’s book is The Little Prince and their favorite kids’ movie is Finding Nemo, hands down.
A self-proclaimed game nerd, Jimmy loves talking to customers about board games all day. His current favorite is Wingspan, but he also enjoys his extensive Funko Pop collection (he has over 800!) and LEGOs. Before moving to the D.C. area, Jimmy lived in Boston, where he worked at the world’s only Curious George store. As a kid, his favorite movies were Aladdin and The Lion King, and his favorite children’s book is The Phantom Tollbooth.
The manager of the Arlington store, Liz is a child trapped in an adult body. A decade-long veteran of Child’s Play, she learns something new every day and loves being the ring leader of organized chaos. At home, she plays with her daughter — whether reading, building, art or science, the whole house is play. She also loves music, baseball and being outdoors at all times. As a child, her favorite toy was her Pooh Bear, and her favorite children’s book is Giraffes Can’t Dance.
Sue Van Dyk
The book manager at the Arlington store, Sue loves the people who shop at Child’s Play. As you might guess, she adores the book section, but games come in a close second (art is pretty cool, too). She loves reading, games and always has a puzzle going, although with five grown kids, she doesn’t have much spare time. As Sue notes, if her whole day was terrible, she can always find joy in a favorite book. As a kid, she loved her bike and softball glove, and her favorite children’s movie is Up.
As a former customer, Stacey remembers the importance of what she learned at Child’s Play. Now she pays it forward by helping kids maximize their potential with the right toys and books; her background as a therapist definitely comes in handy. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, playing board games with her kids and watching them play basketball. As a child, she loved to play games, especially Perfection and Clue. Her favorite children’s book is The Epic Adventures of Huggie and Stick.