Members of the Cayton Children's Museum staff

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 responsible citizens of the world by providing outlets for 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 beyond museum walls and 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 target parts of Los Angeles County where safe and meaningful outlets for 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 how to PLAY THEIR WAY TO A BETTER WORLD. 

Our Values

Cayton Values: Play is essential

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

Cayton Values: Kids come first

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.

Cayton Values: Diversity is powerful

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.

Cayton Values: Collabration is vital

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.

Cayton Values: Perfection is not our goal

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.

Cayton Values: Hard converstatins ae necessary

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

Cayton 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

Esther Netter

President & Founder

Jessica Aronoff

Chief Executive Officer

Carly Harrill

Chief Advancement Officer

Lillian Brownfield

HR Manager

Melanie Cherry

Marketing Director

Paige Colvin

Play Guide

Ellie Cook

Play Guide

Navikka Dasz

Programs Manager

Jasmine Fricke

Play Guide

Trina Garcia

Guest Services Associate

Teonna Garcia

Programs Manager

Sherri Graff

Events & Guest Services Director

Jami Johnson

Community Programs Director

Janette Madrigal-Garcia

Play Guide

Rafael Montes

Facilities Manager

Sean Morris

Senior Designer

Kimberly Mulder

Communications & Marketing


Janine Rubin

Play Guide

Eliza Sanchez

Institutional Giving Manager

Julian Santos

Play Guide

Taylor Scott

Guest Services Associate

Donna Sintic

Retail Manager

Katarina Stojakovic

Sr Director of Operations

Javan Taherkhani

Sr Operations Manager

Amy Tinoco

Development Coordinator

Angela Reynolds

Museum Programs Director

Board Of Directors

Carl Freed


Kevin Beggs

Vice Chairperson

Heather Braun

Vice Chairperson

Susan Goldsmith

Vice Chairperson

James Mandelbaum

Vice Chairperson

Courtney Mizel

Vice Chairperson

Richard A. Smith

Vice Chairperson

Heather Lindsey


Kendra Bracken-Ferguson


Susan Amster

Nathaniel Bach

Tamara S. Brandt

Karey Burke

Barry Cayton

Hillary Mow Cervieri

Jennifer E. Cohen

Nishita Cummings

Mark DiPaola

Craig Erwich

Aryeh Goldberg

Matt Hanover

Sydney Holland

Andy Kaplan

Andy Kleinman

Pauline Malcolm-Thornton

Andy Meyers

Dana Pachulski

Aashika Patel

Rayni Williams

Sheryl Wachtel

Adam Waltuch

Kevin Washington

Grant Withers

Women’s Philanthropy Circle

Alexandra Nechita


Denise Perlstein


Rayni Romito Williams


Stephanie Schaffer


Jaymie Beckett

Andrea Cayton

Victoria Danhakl

Alexa Dell

Sarah Dickerson

Jessica Fogel Scott

Jen Garcia Allen

Halle Hammond

Sydney Holland

Laura Katzenberg

Mary Kitchen

Christine Lim

Lisa Ling

Pauline Malcolm-Thornton

Heidi Monkarsh

Jacqueline Nelson

Navi Rawat

Tracy Robbins

Mia Schaikewitz

Isabella Tang

Chelsea Washington

Jennifer Wexler

Haeran Zedeck


Our 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.

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

If you would like to review earlier financials, please email




Become a Member

Development Department

Book an Event

Sherri Graff, Guest Services & Events Director

Make a Donation

Development Department

Community Programs 
& Partnerships

Jami Johnson, Community Programs Director


Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the FAQ page HERE