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A lifestyle magazine for Central Florida's modern parents

Letter from the Publisher

Letter from the Publisher

After completing a decade of publications and now into our 11th year in print, it might be a good time to reintroduce ourselves to you. If you’re visiting PLAYGROUND for the first time, we’re so glad you found us! PLAYGROUND is a regional...

Our Team

Heather Reneau

Heather Reneau is an Oviedo mom of two and a graphic designer/art director with a natural flair for writing. Her entrepreneurial spirit has led her down many business paths, including conceiving and producing PLAYGROUND Magazine back in 2007. It's her passion to celebrate local people and spread the word about quality family businesses, services and events in Orlando and beyond.

Wendy Meyer

Wendy Meyer is a Winter Park mom to son, Beckett, a self-proclaimed #Disnerd and an integral collaborator at PLAYGROUND Magazine. She currently holds the titles of social media manager, events editor and writer. (That's what happens when you're good at everything they throw at ya!) You can read her single-mom musings on her blog: Mommy’s Little Rebel.

Cortney Thekan

Cortney Thekan lives in Conway and is the mother of two brilliant, quirky kids. She serves as PLAYGROUND Magazine’s irreplaceable editor-at-large, business consultant and den mother. Cortney is the owner of Core Publishing, providing professional writing and editing services to businesses large and small.

Jessica Friend

Jessica Friend lives in Audubon Park with her husband and daughter. She is PLAYGROUND Magazine’s all-around creative mama, helping with photography, graphic and web design and editorial planning. Jessica also operates her own thriving photography business: Jessica Friend Photo Design.

Alisha Champ

Alisha Champ lives in Ocoee but travels all around Central Florida attending to multiple creative projects and assisting parents with the business of their lives. Alisha is PLAYGROUND Magazine’s special projects manager and fashion editor. She is also the owner of Consider Any Thing Done, where she assists families with everything from babysitting to interior design.

Jessica Ventura

Jessica Ventura lives in Baldwin Park with her husband and two kids. She is PLAYGROUND Magazine’s advertising manager and biggest fan. Jessica knows local business is the backbone of our community, and she works hard to create exciting marketing options for our partners. She is also a successful independent business consultant for Rodan+Fields.

Alicia McKee

Alicia McKee lives in Apopka with her husband and daughter. She is PLAYGROUND Magazine’s advertising coordinator and E-newsletter guru. Alicia came to us excited to have found a magazine that helped her navigate the new world of parenting. We put her right to work on the many important tasks surrounding our advertising partners.

Brant Muekeley

Brant Muekeley is married to the publisher and uses his engineering mind to crunch the numbers for PLAYGROUND as our financial manager. He works behind-the-scenes generating invoices and writing checks to keep PLAYGROUND financially successful. Brant is also the owner of Measure Dynamics of Orlando, which provides laser measuring and drafting services.

Contributors

Amy Nielsen

Amy is a former educator of 20 years. She has four children ranging in age from 3 to 30. In addition to being a mother, she enjoys watching sports and traveling. She is also a special needs advocate and you can read her blog Big Abilities.

Tracey C. Velt

Tracey C. Velt is a married mom of two children living in Heathrow. She's a UCF graduate and has been the editor-in-chief of regional and statewide magazines. In 2004, she start her own freelance writing and editing business, Tracey Velt Consulting. She's also a regular contributor of PLAYGROUND Magazine.

Nicole Mitchem Photography

Nicole Mitchem is a Florida Native, proud mom of three sons and a former model. She picked up a camera when her oldest son was born 18 years ago and fell in love with photography. Nicole has been shooting professionally ever since. Her desire is to convey vibrance, fun and expression in all of her work.

Christa Melnyk Hines

Freelance journalist Christa Melnyk Hines and her husband are the parents of two boys. Christa is the author of "Confidently Connected: A Mom's Guide to a Satisfying Social Life."

Simply Shelby Photography

Simply Shelby Photography is an Orlando mom of three children and natural light photographer. During her photo sessions, her goal is to create a fun experience for your family that will result in capturing true and candid moments together.

Betsy Jewell

Betsy Jewell is a Central Florida-based content creator and mother of two teenage boys. After a long career managing projects and producing digital content for a certain mouse, she has set off on a new adventure as a podcaster and blogger at betsyjewell.com.

Amanda Keefer

Amanda Keefer is a Lake Nona mom and the author of the travel blog "Mamma Mia!". She spends her days at Produce for Kids educating families on the importance of a healthy diet full of fruits and veggies.

Lisa Beach

Lisa Beach is a local mom, freelance journalist, content marketing specialist and copywriter. Check out her writer’s website at LisaBeachWrites.com.

Amanda Green

Amanda Green is a native Floridian and mother of two. She enjoys writing about travel, family, adventure, and living the Florida lifestyle. Look for her next time you're outside exploring Central Florida's parks and trails.

Stephanie Patterson

Stephanie Patterson is the managing editor for Orlando Date Night Guide, a local photographer, travel blogger and food tour guide. She shares her creativity on traveltasteclick.com.

Marliese Carmona Photography

Marliese Carmona is a commercial and editorial photographer in Central Florida. She is a toddler chasing, yoga loving, mad scientist creative with two kids, a house full of corgis, and a serious, serious love affair with light. Marliese also develops talent portfolios for models and actors in the Florida market.

Malia Jacobson

Malia Jacobson is an award-winning health and parenting journalist and mom of three. Her latest book is Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades.

Kristen Manieri

Kristen Manieri is a prolific writer who has been blogging about relationships and date night for 12 years through her sites: Orlando Date Night Guide and Date Night Guide. Kristen is also the host of The Synced Life podcast, which explores topics related to human connection. She lives in the Orlando area with her husband, Marc and their two daughters.

Dana Nichols

DANA NICHOLS is an exhausted mommy of two, but she’s enjoying every moment. She loves mom life, shopping, eating, taking photos and exploring Central Florida. Dana catalogs all of these things on her Momlando blog.

Megan Navarro

Megan Navarro is a Central Florida native, born and raised in DeLand and has lived in Orlando for most of her adult life. She is a graduate of the UCF Rosen School of Hospitality Management and is an accomplished professional photographer. Megan produces the YouTube channel "I am Megan Navarro," where she specializes in budget-friendly home décor and organization tips, as well as awesome family-friendly adventures in Orlando. Megan is a truly positive person and lives by the motto: To the Top, Never Stop!

Katy M. Clark

Katy M. Clark is a writer who celebrates her imperfections as a mom at ExperiencedBadMom.com.

JJ West

JJ West lives in Oviedo with her husband and three children. She is a former teacher and a “wannabe blogger.” When she isn’t changing diapers, preparing snacks or answering a million questions, she enjoys the beach, sweet tea and college football. You can read more about faith, family and funny stories on her blog, Mrs. JJ West.

Viviana Valencia-Serrano

Viviana is the Assistant Manager for Community Relations of the Orange County Library System. She holds an M.L.I.S. from the University of South Florida and has 10 years experience as a Children’s Librarian. Viviana is a voracious reader, obsessed with all things Harry Potter and is happy to pass that on to her 5-year-old son.

Tiffany Doerr Guerzon

Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer and the mother of three children. Her family mission statement is “We Pay Attention.” You can find more of her articles at TDGuerzon.com.

Megan Padilla

Megan may live in Orlando, but her friends know she and her family are gypsy nomads at heart. She writes about travel and passionate people who do cool things. Follow her on Instagram @travelswithmeg.

Kodi Churchill

Kodi Churchill is an Orlando mom to a spunky 2-year old boy and enjoys fostering cats, listening to 90's band Hanson and watching Disney movies. Her previous roles include writing and marketing for the tech and sports media corporations. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Angelique Luna

Angelique Luna is a sex education advocate, coach, educator and entertainer. She is mom to her daughter, Diva (a nickname), and believes that education is essential in keeping our children safe.

Angela Browning

Angela C. Browning and her husband, Brandon, are the proud Orlando-based parents of three boys. Angela holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and literature from Eastern Michigan University and earned her Juris Doctor from Ave Maria School of Law. Follow her group’s effort at facebook.com/groups/ocpsrecess and @RestoreRecess on Twitter.

Jodi Aman

As a Family Therapist for over 20 years, Jodi empowers people to become their own healer. As an anxiety survivor and a mom of teens, Jodi totally gets it. Her TEDxWilmington talk, “Calm Anxious Kids,” and her new book, Anxiety...I’m So Done with You! are changing the way we understand the current mental health crisis.

Kate De Luca

Kate De Luca is an Orlando mom and wellness advocate who has fun beingcreative with healthy foods she buys at Trader Joe's. For more easy recipes that parents and kids can follow, check out Kate’s Instagram @katedoesjoes.

Avani Desai

Avani Desai is a mom of two, executive vice president at Schellman & Company, member of board of directors at Central Florida Foundation and co-chair of 100 Women Strong, a collective giving initiative of the Central Florida Foundation that inspires women in Central Florida to help improve the lives of women and children through strategic philanthropy.

Dr. Mandana Nabizadeh, DDS

Dr. Mandana Nabizadeh, DDS, known to her patients as Dr. Nabi, attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her D.D.S. degree in general dentistry. She specializes in working with pediatric dental patients in the downtown Orlando-based pediatric practice Your Downtown Dentistry. Dr. Nabi is married to Dr. Ali Behzadi and has a young daughter, Melody.

Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro is a lifelong angler. She works to introduce newcomers to the water as senior vice president of marketing & communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing initiative. Outside of work, you’re likely to find her fishing and boating with her family.

Debbie Helton

Debbie is a local mom and owner of The Craft Shack in Longwood, which provides arts and crafts enrichment with a recycled flair through scheduled classes, private parties and corporate meetings.

Dr. Sanam Hafeez

Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental and educational center in Manhattan and Queens.

Dr. Hafeez masterfully applies her years of experience connecting psychological implications to address some of today’s common issues such as body image, social media addiction, relationships, workplace stress, parenting and psychopathology (bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc…). In addition, Dr. Hafeez works with individuals who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), learning disabilities, attention and memory problems, and abuse. Dr. Hafeez often shares her credible expertise to various news outlets in New York City and frequently appears on CNN and Dr. Oz.

Galina Sullivan

Galina Sullivan lives in Tampa with her husband, John, and her two kids, Sophia (11) and Theo (5). The four of them love to travel together as a family and explore places near and far. You can follow Galina and her family travel adventures on Instagram at @kidslivemodern.

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