Wil Ennis – founder and President
Wil always knew, in his heart-of-hearts, that he would find a way to give back to his community. He was taught at a very early age, by his Grandmother, Mary Isaac Hobbs, that opening your heart and your home was the only way to live a full life. He now tries hard to honor her legacy by doing just that.
The arts have always been a vital part of his life and he charmed his way into his first theater production when he was only five. From that moment forward, he worked tirelessly until he had danced and sang for over two decades in the world of community and then professional theatre.
Later he would go on to serve as the Community Relations Manager for Barnes & Noble in the Atlanta area for over eight years. Working as the primary liaison with the local community he coordinated public events, author signings, and partner with local school systems. For three years he developed and coordinated the Downtown Teacher Expo with the Georgia Aquarium and the New World of Coke. This event brought the educational community together with the civic community and provided recognition for over five thousand educators. Through his experiences he has learned the importance of serving the community, building partnerships and creating a welcoming environment that fosters passion for the human condition
It was during his time at Barnes & Noble that Wil met and became Inspired by the charitable heart of Jackie Viener, or better known at Children's Health Care of Atlanta's Egletston Hospital as The Fairy God Mother. Wil approached the Family Library Coordinator, Vandie Enloe and asked if he could hold a LEGO day for the children and there it began. The first day started with a bag of LEGO sets and six kids needing a little fun.
With the help of Vandie and Reon Hampton at the hospital, along with a few friends, Wil grew the LEGO day program until it became one of the most popular programs at the facility. Realizing where this program could go, he teamed up with John Millier and together they created Hope Laugh Play and their first program, Little Bricks of Hope.
Currently, Wil is seeking his primary education degree to fulfill his life-long dream to be a teacher. Wil can also be found every Wednesday afternoon at the Cobb County Barnes & Noble hosting Story Time!
Mark Lewis – Vice President
Mark Lewis was born and raised in Columbus, GA. He graduated from Shaw High School and joined the US ARMY Reserves while in School. Mark and his wife Cathy relocated to Jacksonville, FL and made a home there for 17 years.
While in Jacksonville, Mark was called to serve in Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1991. Mark completed his Associated in Science Degree in Marketing Management at Florida Community College of Jacksonville. Mark and Cathy relocated to Fort Mill, SC in 2005 and soon after discovered that the joys of life are realized through volunteering.
In 2008, Mark and Cathy became Foster Parents. We have had several long-term placements and we know that we were able to make a difference. We will continue to volunteer our time to make a difference in someone's life. It's what puts a smile on our face.
I have previously served on the Board of Directors with two other Non-Profit organizations.
I served as the Secretary, President-Elect, President and Immediate Past President for the Association of Water Technologies in a professional capacity and I have also served as Secretary, President-Elect and currently serve as the President of the York County Foster Parent Association.
Cathy Lewis – Secretary
Cathy grew up in Columbus, Georgia and considers Jacksonville, Florida her home after living there for 17 years. She is employed by Bank of America as a Senior Change Manager and now resides in Fort Mill, South Carolina, with her husband, Mark and her son, Erik.
Cathy has a heart of serving others and volunteers her time in different capacities ranging from serving meals at homeless shelters to mentoring foster children at a group home for children. She is widely known for orchestrating diaper drives and sock drives for local shelters and recruiting friends and coworkers to serve the communities around them.
Cathy has a special place in her heart for children, especially those who are disenfranchised or are dealing with illness or challenging
circumstances. This passion led her to become a foster parent in 2007. When her brother, Wil, had the vision for Hope, Laugh, Play, Inc., she knew she had to be a part of it. She is honored to serve on the Board of Directors and attends events in Atlanta whenever her schedule permits.
Dan Hawks – MEmber at LArge
A Connecticut native, Dan attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York. Upon graduation
he returned to his home state and went to work for
ESPN developing software for their advertising and sales departments.
This would be the start of over 25 years now in the software consulting business in the media industry which landed him in New York City in 2001. Dan has worked with many large cable and network broadcasting companies such as ABC Family, Discovery Chanel, Turner Broadcasting, NFL Network and NBC to name a few.
Living in Atlanta since 2003, Dan now considers the south home and has fallen in love with both the weather and the food! Soon after moving to his Brookhaven home, he became involved in his home owners association, serving as both treasurer and president over the years.
Dan's interest in helping his community has grown ever since and he has found a great home at Hope Laugh Play. Besides watching over the books, he has also taken part in several Little Bricks of Hope events. "The look on their faces when they realize they get to keep the LEGO sets is rewarding in a way I never expected….I'm hooked!"
JOHN MILLIER – PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Originally from Maine, John has been migrating south every since graduating from Babson College just outside of Boston, landing in Atlanta in 2003. A former nationally ranked figure skater, he has been involved with the sport ever since he stopped competing in 1990.
After coaching for several years John entered the judging ranks and quickly climbed the ladder earning his National appointment in 1997. Two years later he became an International Judge and in 2005 a World Judge for the International Skating Union. During that time he has also served as a team manager for U.S. Figure Skating, a volunteer position that takes many hours of dedication to both the sport and the skaters. After serving as manager at four World Championships, he was appointed to the 2014 Winter Olympic Team as Team Manager/Technical Advisor for Ice Dance.
John met Hope Laugh Play founder Wil Ennis early in 2013 and immediately expressed interest in joining him at a LEGO Day when he heard what they were doing with all the LEGO sets Wil had been given at his recent birthday party. It took only one visit to the hospital for John to know he was hooked. He quickly became involved in helping the organization become incorporated and expanding in to its second hospital.
John returned from the Olympic Games inspired to continue working with Hope Laugh Play as they prepared to file for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Over the spring the Little Bricks of Hope program was growing too fast and big to run on a part time basis and in May of 2014, John was brought on board as the Program Director for the organization.