About Us

About Us

The US Play Coalition is a partnership that promotes the value of play throughout life. We are an international network of individuals and organizations that recognize play as a valuable and necessary part of a healthy and productive life.

We fulfill our mission by educating our national and global community, encouraging and conducting play research, connecting play advocates, and providing avenues of communication about the value of play worldwide.

Our membership comes from a cross-section of industries and professions – play researchers, educators, park and recreation professionals, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians, parents and more.

Founded in 2009 at Clemson University, our leadership announced a new home for the US Play Coalition in March 2023 at the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands.

Our Mission: To promote the value of PLAY throughout life.

Our Vision: Play will become a valued and integral part of the lives of people of all ages and abilities.

Steering Committee

Stephanie Garst

Executive Director
US Play Coalition

Stephen A. Wolter

Executive Director
Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands

Brett Wright

Dean Emeritus, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, Clemson University

Fran P. Mainella

Chair Emeritus & Founder

Former National Park Service Director and Visiting Scholar Clemson University

Peggy Riggs

Co-Founder, Brio 2 Solutions, Retired Deputy Supt of Springfield Public Schools

Dee Stegelin, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Early Childhood Education, Eugene T. Moore School of Education, Clemson University

Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA

Chair, Musculoskeletal Institute & the Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA

Meghan Talarowski

Founder and Director
Studio Ludo

Heather Von Bank, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor
Family Consumer Science
Minnesota State University-Mankato

Ryan Fahey

Communications Director,
US Play Coalition

Coalition Advisors

Richard J. Dolesh

Chief of Public Policy, National Recreation and Park Association

Jackie Epping

Retired, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dan Hendy

Site Masters Inc.

Tom Kalousek

Director, Safe Play for All

Danielle Marshall

Certified Diversity Professional

Rita Watts

Play and Playground Encyclopedia

In Loving Memory

Joan Almon

Co-Founder, Alliance for Childhood

Joe L. Frost, Ed.D.

Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus, University of Texas

Eric W. O’Brien

Chairman, O’Brien & Sons, Inc.

Doug Youngblood

Chairman of Partners for Parks & Founder of Charlotte Regional Partners for PLAY