Who We Are

Debra Eileen Lewis, President


Debra holds a BA entitled The Arts and Education from William Smith College in Geneva, NY, which has given her a foundation of knowledge that applies to issues facing toy libraries. She is a graduate of The Entrepreneurship Network in Rochester, NY, and is experienced and knowledgeable in business ownership and in the culture of startups, which helps her in planning and running the organization. She has experience teaching children creative writing and working as a childcare professional. 


Debra is a stay-at-home mom of a 3 1/2 year old named Theia. Theia’s scribbles can be found all over toy library papers and notes where she has added her own two cents to the project. Debra enjoys music, dancing, gardening, yoga, and the arts, and is excited to see the toy library grow.


“I hope every child in our region will soon have access to a large variety of high-quality playthings, and that all our lives will become more playful and joyful because of it,” Debra says. “I look forward to helping the community join together to make our organization's vision a reality.”


Connect with me on LinkedIn! Just say you know me through my job at the toy library ;)





Amber Smith, Vice President, Executive Director


Amber holds a Bachelor's degree in Child Development from Empire State College and has 15+ years of experience as a nanny. Much of her research during her education focused on play and its benefits and international iterations. She has extensive knowledge of infant and toddler development and its relationship to their play. 


In her spare time Amber loves to hike, camp, kayak, and sit around a bonfire with friends.


"Creative, open-ended, and imaginative play are essential to early development. Play is a child's method of communication and growth, and the toy library is a fantastic way to bring children from all corners of our community together in play."





Alexandra Appel, Secretary


Alexandra grew up in Colorado and Illinois. She is an alum of the University of Chicago, where she received her B.A. in history and in gender studies, with a minor in Jewish studies. After graduating, she worked in a variety of administrative, fundraising, event planning, and research capacities for non-profits in Boston and Washington, D.C., before leaving the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom to her son Ira.

When she's not busy chasing her son around the house, she enjoys literature, films, hiking, and toddler art projects. 

"I believe strongly in making educational toys accessible to everyone in the community," Alexandra says. "I have a particular interest in toys geared toward building children's interest and capabilities in STEM fields and the arts and I look forward to helping to bring joy, play, and learning to the children of Ithaca!"



Kelly Sauve, Treasurer

Kelly holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Northeastern University (NU) in Boston, MA and she obtained a teaching license for grades 1-6. While living in Boston, she worked in various educational settings before landing a job at NU as an implementation coordinator for the Center for STEM Education. In that capacity, Kelly worked with the Mayor's office, non-profits and industry professionals to develop and implement programs aimed at eliminating the achievement gap in Boston Public Schools. One of the programs, the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, eventually led to a cross country move to Houston, TX to work for The Harris Foundation in a national role as a program director. 

Kelly's experience in education has focused primarily in the STEM areas and her work has encompassed everything from grant writing to program development and implementation to staff management to data analysis and program evaluation. 

Now in Ithaca, NY as a mom to two children, Jordan and Lucy, and as a nanny, Kelly enjoys watching children learn through play and exposure to the world around them. "I love watching the world coming alive for children as they construct their own meaning. Exposure to high quality, educational toys is one way in which they can do this. The Toy Library is a great opportunity for lots of children and is also affordable and environmentally conscious. I'm excited to be a part of the organization and see how it helps our community."


Dorothy Lovelace, Board Member

A long-time member of the local community Dorothy previously worked as a bookkeeper at Family & Children’s Services of Ithaca, a service coordinator and direct care worker at Franziska Racker Centers, and currently as programs and outreach coordinator at Family Reading Partnership. She has a BA in Human Development with a focus on socio-cultural influences, and is pursuing a Masters of Education. Before concentrating on non-profits she spent ten years working in hospitality. Dorothy grew up on a small family-owned dairy farm in Cayuga County, and loves to travel and ride her motorcycle. 

Dorothy lives with her teenage son Maximus, who will graduate from Lansing Central School next year, and she is married to local entrepreneur John Hughes who previously owned the Lost Dog Café and was a partner in the Bandwagon Brewery from its inception until recently when he parted ways to work with Beta Theta Pi fraternity. As a family they enjoy too many pursuits to list including outdoor recreation, the arts, and lots of reading, they share their home with three cats. 

“After spending time as a young single mother in Ithaca I remember the struggle of trying to obtain high-quality toys, and other resources for my family; now I want to help others get what they need to improve their quality of life, and reach their potential at every age.” 


Sarah Wicker, Board Member

Sarah holds a BA in French Literature from Cornell University and a MBA from Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.  Sarah enjoyed a rewarding career at Cornell University, first as a principal gifts fundraiser and culminating as Associate Dean for Administration at the Graduate School prior to resigning in 2014 with the birth of her twin girls.  In addition to the Finger Lakes Toy Library, Sarah is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Arts Partnership.

You frequently can find Sarah digging in her garden with Laurel and Bridget or quilting with their help.  Sarah also enjoys running, yoga, reading, and travel.

As a mom, Sarah delights in seeing her children engage in creative active play and is thrilled to be part of the Finger Lakes Toy Library with its mission to bring these opportunities to all children in our community while supporting an ethic of reuse and sustainability.   “I love the concept of the toy library,” she says.  “Children learn so much through active play.  The Finger Lakes Toy Library provides a place for parents and children to meet, to discover new toys and engage in new play, and to help our environment. It’s a win for everyone.”

Lila Kwederis, Intern

Hometown: Oakland, NJ


Major: Communications and English


Siblings: One little brother who's off to college, so he isn't so little anymore.


Pets: I have a sweet old dog named Max waiting for me back home.


Prior volunteer work: I used to volunteer at my local library as a library assistant and at community theatre as a peer mentor.


What was your favorite toy growing up: My favorite toy growing up was this stuffed seal that I called Softy. He was white, fluffy, and the best tea party guest. Softy is looking a little more grey these days, but he still holds a special place in my heart.


What drew you to the toy library internship: I think it was the sense of community that drew me to this internship. To me the toy library felt like a chance to give back to the Ithaca that I know and love


We'd like to acknowledge our Former Secretary, Sarah Smith, who served on the board for 8 months. Thank you Sarah for all of your help making the toy library a reality.

Sarah holds a bachelors degree in Human Development from Cornell University and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University. She feels fortunate that her work and passion, young children and play, happen to be the same thing. In her job as a Pre-K teacher she works to create meaningful experiences for young children to learn, and provide opportunities for them to engage in real play- that is self-directed, timeless, and fun. She brought knowledge of play and of early childhood development to the board of the Toy Library.





































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If you are interested in volunteering as a board member, please contact us to discuss the possibility.