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team cayton


Who We Are

Our Vision

We envision a world where all children, and the adults they grow up to be, experience the transformational and lifelong benefits of abundant, creative and purposeful play.

Our Mission

The Cayton Children’s Museum is a nonprofit organization that activates the power of PLAY to enrich the lives of children and their families, build stronger, more connected communities, and create a better world. We strive to nurture children of all backgrounds and abilities to become engaged citizens of the world by facilitating collaborative, experiential learning and creative expression, both in our museum space and through our community programs. 

Located in Downtown Santa Monica just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, the Cayton Children’s Museum offers 21,000 square feet of discovery-based exhibits and immersive play. We offer a robust calendar of arts and cultural activities designed for children 0 to 8 and their families, including public programs, festivals, camps, classes, workshops and more. 

Beyond museum walls, our community programs bring the Cayton experience into neighborhoods and schools to reach children with limited access to the museum. These experiences, which celebrate the creative, performance and visual arts, are offered throughout the year in partnership with non-profit and community-based organizations that serve parts of Los Angeles County where opportunities for creative, safe, purposeful, and free play are needed most. 

While the Cayton Children’s Museum opened to the public in 2019, our organization comes with 30 years of experience in values-based learning. Before we were the Cayton, we were the Zimmer Children’s Museum, serving more than 90,000 visitors a year in our home on Museum Row. Today, building from the heart of the Zimmer and nurtured by the soul of our diverse community, the Cayton is inspiring children and families everywhere to PLAY THEIR WAY TO A BETTER WORLD. 

Our Values

We believe people of all ages benefit from and need the inspiration, creativity, learning, connection, and freedom fostered by play.

We are a kid-centered organization. We trust, listen to, and learn from children, and we put their needs first in all our decision-making.

We provide a safe space where all kids and families belong. Our institution is inclusive and embraces the rich diversity of cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, identities, family structures, and abilities of our community.

We know that big ideas emerge from collaboration, cooperation, and shared learning. This is also how kids (and adults) come to see the world through each other’s eyes and cultivate empathy, compassion, and kindness. Together we can accomplish great things.

Trying new things can be frightening for kids and grownups alike. But we believe that the surest way to achieve meaningful learning and growth is by taking risks. Stumbles and mistakes can be fertile ground for creativity.

We believe we owe it to our community to courageously and sensitively address issues that affect the lives of children—and us all. This includes honest conversations about social justice, race, and equity.

Our History


Why Play?

Albert Einstein. Plato. Mr. Rogers. What do all three have in common? They all believed in the power of play to improve lives, strengthen communities and shape a better world. Here are just some of the benefits of play:

Play improves academic performance

Play optimizes cognitive development, including critical thinking, problem solving and comprehension, to support learning and improve academic performance. Additionally, play-based learning is shown to enhance “whole child readiness” by helping develop language and early math skills. In fact, as public schools increasingly see cuts to arts education funding, educators are also looking to play to fill gaps where our educational system is lacking.

Play makes our world bigger

Children acquire cultural values, skills, and abilities through play that influence their everyday experiences and interactions with other children and caregivers. Play can also expose us to people that are different from us to promote empathy and create shared understanding. In recognizing, respecting and representing a range of different cultures and perspectives, children develop a sense of identity and belonging.

Play helps children thrive in an ever-changing world

Play is often called “the work of children” because it is through play that children learn how to interact in their environment, discover their interests, and process their surroundings. As our world continues to evolve, play also helps to mitigate a child’s toxic stress and enhance their resiliency so they can more easily adapt to change.

Play builds life skills

Through play, we learn how to communicate with others and self-regulate our emotions to improve our lifelong success. Play also gives us an outlet to explore curiosities in a low-risk environment, building courage and confidence.

Play benefits the economy

Nationally, children’s museums contribute $5.5 billion to the economy each year and are a vital element of the tourism and cultural sector. They also help to improve educational outcomes, attract diverse audiences and transform neighborhoods through community building and local partnerships.


Meet Our Team

Cayton Staff

Jessica Aronoff

Chief Executive Officer

Lisa Sherman-Colt

Chief Program Officer

Rudy Acosta

Facilites Manager

Khadija Ahmaddiya

Visitor Experience Director

Elizabeth Apolinar

Play Guide

Alena Cohen

Development Manager

Paige Colvin

Play Guide

Navikka Dasz

Program Director

Kendra Frank

Donor Database Manager

Jasmine Fricke

Floor Coordinator

Josh Galitsky

Play Guide

Teonna Garcia

Senior Program Manager

Hannah Heimbaugh

Program Manager

Mikayla Hilar

Marketing Coordinator

Ember Ho

Guest Service Associate

Elizabeth Ko

Floor Coordinator


Jay Lujan

Play Guide


Janette Madrigal-Garcia

Program Coordinator

Daniela Martinez

Play Guide

Marbely Martinez

HR Generalist

Tamra Martinez

Retail Store Manager


Aidan Memory

Facilities Assistant

Sheree Mirabato 

Events Manager

Sean Morris

Creative Lead

Roma Murphy

Play Guide

Melanie Olivas

Play Guide


Nathaly Orozco

Guest Services Coordinator

Karl Perry 

Guest Services Manager

Jillian Riley

Events Coordinator

Hayden Roberts

Play Guide

Alexandra Rodriguez

Play Guide

Janine Rubin

Program Manager

Richard Ruiz

Guest Service Associate

Talia Sanchez

Development Coordinator

Annie Sinzinger

Senior Marketing Director

Katarina Stojakovic

Business Analyst

Javan Taherkani

Operations Director

Kali Tilton

Play Guide

Hayden Troy

Grants Manager

Meleny Vasquez

Play Guide

Kristen Williams

Office Coordinator


Board Of Directors

Carl Freed


Susan Goldsmith

Vice Chair

Heather Lindsey


Hillary Mow Cervieri


Susan Amster

Kevin Beggs

Heather Braun

Barry Cayton

Jennifer E. Cohen

Craig Erwich

Dean Golder

Andy Kleinman

Women’s Philanthropy Circle

Alexa Dell


Katie Durko


Jen Garcia Allen


Deepika Chopra

Sarah Dickerson

Tiffany Fong

Diana Glasser

Katie Grosvenor

Halle Hammond

Laura Katzenberg

Mary Kitchen

Lauren Kleinman

Bari Goldberg

Christine Lim

Andy Meyers

Courtney Mizel

Aashika Patel

Elizabeth Polk

Adam Waltuch

Kevin Washington

Grant Withers

Pia Mehta

Heidi Monkarsh

Denise Perlstein

Catherine Powers

Tracy Robbins

Stephanie Schaffer

Gina Wade

Chelsea Washington

Jennifer Wexler

Annie Yi

Haeran Zedeck


Our Annual Supporters

The Cayton is the product of so much love and support. We are grateful to our many donors whose critical support has made the Cayton the special place it is today.


Financials & Reports

Annual Report

Read our annual report to follow our journey from the grand debut of the all-new Cayton Children’s Museum through the momentous year that was 2020.

Progress Reports

Click below to view our quarterly progress reports and see how the work we’re doing each day is helping us fulfill our mission.

If you would like to review earlier financials, please email

Financial Statements

As a non-profit organization, the Cayton Children’s Museum depends on the generosity of donors and foundations to make our work happen. In an effort to ensure fiscal transparency and accountability with those who generously support our efforts, please find our most recent audited financials and Form 990s below.

Audited Statements




Book an Event

Events Department

Make a Donation

Development Department

Community Programs 
& Partnerships

Hannah Heimbaugh, Program Manager


Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the FAQ page HERE

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