MEET OUR TEAM
“We firmly believe that no matter what country you are born in or what your life circumstance is, every child deserves an equal chance at a happy and healthy life and we will never stop fighting to make that possible!”
Lauren Costabile is the Founder and Executive Director of Hearts of Joy International. A New Jersey native, Lauren is a Speaker and fierce advocate for those with Down syndrome. She is deeply passionate about serving this population and showing the world the immense gift that these children are. Lauren graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College with a degree in Recreational Therapy and has over 13 years of experience working with children with special needs.
After traveling to Uganda, East Africa in 2017, she witnessed firsthand how individuals with Down syndrome are disregarded and seen as a burden to society. As a result, these children are not receiving proper medical care and therefore are dying. This pierced Lauren’s heart and she was inspired to create a program exclusively for children with Down syndrome to receive proper cardiac treatment. In 2018, Hearts of Joy International was born. Lauren also counsels and provides education about Down syndrome and heart defects to families, communities and orphanages around the world. She believes that no matter what country you are born in or what your life circumstances are, every child deserves an equal chance at a happy and healthy life and will never stop fighting to make that possible!
meet our board
Neil Haskell began his involvement with Hearts of Joy in 2019 and has recently joined the Board of Directors as Treasurer. Neil brings over 15 years of Finance experience, working with his family’s insurance business. Neil and his wife have been married for five wonderful years and Neil is a proud father to their three beautiful and rambunctious children.
“It is my hope and prayer that God may continue to use me through the Hearts of Joy as we fight to uphold, protect and celebrate the beautiful and unrepeatable lives of these children with down-syndrome, who are such an authentic and precious gift to our world.”
Kathryn Grifonetti is a proud graduate of the CUNY school system and started her career in Marketing at Hearst Magazines where she held a position in Corporate Marketing and Sales. Always having a heart for helping the young, she decided to switch careers and become an educator in the New York City Public School system after she completed her Masters’s Degree at Hunter College. The call to motherhood came a few years later, when she and her husband John started a family. Kathryn left her career and joyfully stayed at home to eventually raise their four children. When she was not volunteering in her children’s schools, Kathryn became involved with many grassroots charitable organizations, including Change a Life Uganda, which provides education to children in Uganda. As her children grew and went into the world on their own, Kathryn made the decision to go back to work in the field she loves. She is currently teaching Pre-K in a local school and loves every minute of it. The mission of Hearts of Joy International is one that she loves being a part of.
Cassie Panzenbeck, MBA, AAMS®
Myma Albayda is a rheumatologist at Johns Hopkins and is the program director of the Rheumatology fellowship as well as musculoskeletal ultrasound program in the Division of Rheumatology.
She divides her time between seeing patients, educating trainees and conducting research in the rheumatic diseases. As a physician and relative of someone with Down syndrome, she feels a personal connection to the mission of Hearts of Joy and has been involved with the organization since 2021.
Jean Tenaglia is a mother of six children, artist and former teacher. Upon graduating college with a degree in fine arts and education, Jean served as a missionary volunteer. After serving as a volunteer, Jean married her husband John and began her teaching career. After the birth of their first child, Jean became a stay-at-home mother.
Her passion for ministry led her to help start a ministry for a Hispanic community in southern New Jersey, which has expanded over the past 18 years. In 2012, Jean co-founded the Ministry of Motherhood (M.O.M.) in Northern New Jersey, which aims to provide support to mothers in their child raising years as well as organize outreach opportunities which help local organizations in need.
Jean enjoys raising her six children with her husband, having an active role in outreach, spending time with family and friends, painting and running. Jean loves sharing in the mission of Hearts of Joy International, recognizing the gift each child is to the world.
Mia Del Rosario
Mia Del Rosario joined the Advisory Board in 2023. Her college career initially centered around journalism, but her path took a different turn when she volunteered at her brother’s school for children with special needs. This experience inspired her to pursue Communicative disorders, and she has since dedicated the past two decades to working in the field of Special Education in various capacities. Currently, Mia resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband and son while providing Speech therapy services. Her brother Joseph, who has Down syndrome, remains a significant source of inspiration for her.
John Paul Von Arx
John Paul Von Arx enjoys entertaining crowds all across the nation. His love for country music, guitar playing and entertaining audiences of all ages shines through in his dynamic live performances. His song He’s Different, which he penned about his little brother with Down Syndrome, has been embraced by the special needs communities on a national level. John Paul was a National Finalist for Taste of Country’s Hometown Riser competition in 2018. When he is not on the road, he also works as Coordinator of Worship and Adjunct Professor of Catechetics at Franciscan University. He and his wife and daughter reside in Steubenville, Ohio. When John Paul is not performing he enjoys woodworking, house projects, hiking, and kayaking.
Arik Ancelin is a pop & rap music artist and motivational speaker born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. Arik has taken the music industry by storm in just a few short years. He began his music career in 2020, which to many was a year filled with bad, but Arik being the bright and creative soul he is, has used these hard times to create. Since beginning his career, he has put out multiple singles, EPs and Albums. He has proudly achieved over 15 million streams across platforms or his music and has over 1.5 million followers on tik tok.
As his career has grown, he has had the opportunity to work with Grammy award winning producer, DJ Nitti Gritti and performed live on stage with Andy Grammer at the Hearts of Joy International Gala as well as on his tour. The traction he has gained from his music career has launched his life trajectory and grown his reach. Through his music and performance, he is impacting all types of people and is changing lives for the better. As an Ambassador for Hearts of Joy International, he continues to use his platform to spread awareness and education and demonstrates that a Down Syndrome diagnosis does not have to stop you from chasing your dreams. Every single day that Arik continues working hard to live out his dreams, he is inspiring others through his music, words and actions.
Kayla Kosmalski is a seventeen year old senior in high school. She is in National Honor Society with a 3.8 GPA. Kayla will graduate in June with plans to attend college in the fall. During her time in high school, Kayla has been a Varsity cheerleader, Competitive cheerleader, Varsity swimmer and has been a part of the theatre program. Kayla was 2021 Miss Middletown DE Teen USA, earning Miss Congeniality and Top Model. Kayla has spent years building relationships with legislatures and lobbying in her home state of Delaware and in Washington DC to help improve the lives of those living with Down syndrome. Kayla has helped pass several laws, including the ABLE Act which was renamed Kayla’s Law in Delaware. When she isn’t in school or DC, Kayla enjoys modeling and acting. She appears in the feature film, I Win, set to release on March 21, 2024.
Isabella is a model, actress, public speaker and advocate. She was featured in People Magazine, People en Español, USA Today, DEI Kumon, The Acorn, etc. Isabella has been in numerous theatrical productions, is a working model and a paid public speaker. Her passion is to spread awareness for Down syndrome and inclusivity around the world. She is veteran lobbyist in Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. helping to pass laws that will improve the lives of people with disabilities. Isabella is a Sophomore in High School and is fully included. She thrives at the Kumon Institute and was invited to speak at their International Convention. Isabella represented her State of California in the Miss Amazing Pageant and is a cheerleader. She plays tennis, basketball and soccer. In her down time she enjoys the theatre, ballet, the Opera and traveling. Her magnetic personality is unstoppable.