JENNIFER STRAUSSER – director of programming
Jen applied for a job at apple seeds because she truly loves every child she meets (and she could walk to work). In fact, she threatens to take a few home with her every day. (Don't worry her background check came back clean.) In the past four years she has gone from creating and launching our extremely popular apple seedlings gentle separation program to overseeing all apple seeds classes, teachers and curriculum. We call Jen the baby whisperer around these parts. Put a child (or parent for that matter) in her arms and watch the tears turn to laughter in 3.2 seconds flat. Jen is mother to Cole, an amazing 10 year old boy who is obsessed with Ultimate Fighting and his mom.
RYAN DEJAK – general manager (chelsea)
Ryan was born and raised on Long Island, NY. He is a proud graduate of Stonehill College in North Easton, MA, where he graduated with Bachelor Degrees in both Psychology and Fine Arts. While in college, Ryan strengthened his love of working with children and the performing arts through his involvement in early intervention and child enrichment programs and volunteer opportunities. He was often seen on stage and admits to being the biggest theater geek around. His passion for the stage led him to NYC, where he completed a conservatory program in Musical Theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. He is obsessed with theater, music, and everything Broadway! Ryan joined the apple seeds family in 2012 as the birthday and event manager and is now the general manager of our Chelsea location!
WILL ROSE – general manager (upper west side)
Will started at apple seeds right after arriving in the Big Apple from Madison, Wisconsin – almost 5 years ago. He has truly done every job at apple seeds…he has been a teacher, a playground supervisor, apple seeds’ summer camp coordinator, front desk manager, and now the general manager of our UWS location. Will started working with children in 1999, as a Counselor-In-Training at Camp Shalom in the Dairy State. He graduated with a B.S. in political science from the University of Minnesota, and he recently completed his Master’s in Urban Policy at the New School. He plans to utilize his degree by advocating for the expansion of subsidized child care for low-income residents of New York City. He resides in lovely Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, but you can spot him all over the five boroughs (well, at least three of them) in the city’s finest rap-friendly music venues, roaming the parks with a frisbee, honing his karaoke, trivia, and pool skills, or posted up at various purveyors of tacos, pizza, labneh, curry, pho, arepas, pernil, falafel, and gabagoo. Delicious!
CASSIE ORZANO – birthday manager
Cassie joined the apple seeds’ team in November 2010. She started as marketing coordinator and HR administrator and did everything from coordinating marketing efforts, to creating and hanging the signs that you saw around the space, to assisting at the front desk or in classes. She enjoys working with kids and seeing the smiles on their faces when they come to apple seeds. She also loves when the kids remember her name and say hi to her even when they’ve only seen her in class two or three times! Now the apple seeds' birthday manager, she will be planning your child’s ridiculously fun birthday bash. Cassie received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Binghamton University in 2007 and graduated with a master’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising from DePaul University in 2010. She had a great experience living in Chicago for two years, but she now feels at home in the Big Apple. Outside of apple seeds, Cassie enjoys cheering on her favorite sports teams (Go Giants!), cooking and spending time with friends and family. She loves animals and has a mischievous, spoiled cat named Milo.
DAN GRIFFITH – music coordinator
When Dan Griffith was growing up, his only wish was to one day become a horse. He didn’t quite get there, but at least at songs for seeds he can pretend to be a different animal every day of the week. He takes particular pride in his monkey impersonation (but we think his elephant is Oscar worthy). After graduating with a BA in English from Connecticut College in 2005, Dan toured the east coast for two years, playing in various bands, and well over 200 shows. He joined the apple seeds team in 2008 and found his calling working with children. He loves performing more than anything except helping kids smile and dance. Luckily he gets to do both every day in his songs for seeds classes. Dan would never brag about himself so we will...he can often be found performing for children in various hospitals. Check out his debut CD, "The Spaces In Between".
TERRY STREET – facilities/classroom coordinator
Terry’s love of working with children started as early as he can remember. His mother has run a day care (in the home he grew up in) for over 30 years. During his high school and college years he spent every summer as a camp counselor or doing odd jobs and landscaping for his grandfather. After graduating from SUNY Brockport with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Psychology he spent time teaching English in France and working with troubled teenagers in San Diego (and a few other places in between) before making the move to the big city. The first job he got at apple seeds was as a playground lifeguard and he has never looked back. Terry is now the Facilities/Classroom Coordinator at our Chelsea location, as well a lead teacher for apple seedlings, apple CORE training, build it! break it! fix it! and many other classes. If you ever can’t find Terry it means he is practicing his (unbelievably awesome) break dancing moves in the songs for seeds room.