Bios

Liz Tomko (owner)

The Child Whisperer

Liz saw that there was a gap in expressive art services for kids in Phoenix, Arizona. So, in 2010, she decided to change that by opening Artplay, a safe place for kids to explore their feelings through art-making and sensory play in a non-clinical setting. Liz found inspiration for her calling while growing up in the outback of Australia. Her local high school art teacher told Liz to one day become an Art Therapist, as she was naturally helping fellow students process their emotions through their art. Liz moved back to the U.S. and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) at Texas Tech in 1997. She then moved to Arizona, where she worked as a graphic designer for 10 years. At that point, Liz took the wise advice of her outback art teacher and received her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling (MAPC) with a Specialty in Expressive Arts Therapy at Ottawa University in Phoenix. Then, Liz asserted her independence and founded Artplay. She continually grows Artplay in order to help as many kids in the community as possible.

Becky Goudy

The Kid Empowerist

Becky Goudy has been empowering the lives of her clients for 20 years. Becky enjoys advocating for the needs of her kids, especially with schools and teachers. She believes in helping kids with self-regulation and stability, always encouraging genuineness. At Artplay, Becky is incorporating her love for art with her exceptional therapeutic knowledge. She connects with parents easily, making sure that they know what they can be doing to support the emotional development of their child.

Becky spent her childhood in Australia and California, before moving to Arizona in order to raise her family. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, plus her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling (MAPC) at Ottawa University in Phoenix. With her extensive education and experience, Becky is an asset to the children that attend Artplay.

Allie Gray

The Caring Creative

Allie expressed an early proclivity towards the creative arts. She moved from Arizona to Los Angeles to attend The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and graduated with a degree in Fashion Design. For the next 13 years, Allie worked for major manufacturers and retailers, creating lines for everyone from Target to Disney and beyond. It was at this point in her career that she decided to be in a helping profession, moving back to Phoenix in order to help at Free Arts of AZ, bringing self-expression through art to the most under-served populations in our community. From there, Allie took the valuable tools that she had learned, plus her Support Specialist Certification, to work as a Behavior Coach and Mentor to kids in the foster system, providing them with a safe place to express themselves through art. Now, at Artplay, Allie is focused on helping kids, 4-18 years old, to lower their anxiety and build strong self-identities through gentle guidance.

Allison Cogswell

The Emotion Master

Allison has a passion for helping children build emotional intelligence through creative arts and play. She has experience in trauma, foster care, adoption, anxiety, plus grief and loss. Allison believes the use of child-led play and art allows children to build feelings of security and increases self-esteem. Allison has worked with kids and in a variety of settings, including schools and agencies.

Allison earned her Masters of Science Degree in Community Counseling from Northern Arizona University. She lived overseas in the UK for several years, completing a diploma program at the Institute of Arts in Therapy and Education, in London. She loves helping children at Artplay, using her experience to help kids feel empowered, so they can manage their emotions in a way that facilitates healthy development.

Anna Lee

The Hope-based Helper

As a Phoenix native, Anna is a 2nd-generation Taiwanese American who is curiously observant and loves art & design. This combination led her to pursue two bachelor degrees at ASU in Industrial Design and in Marketing, believing she would become a corporate designer. However, sometimes a small experience can completely change our course...Anna began to illustrate as a therapeutic outlet and found that it connected her to others who were struggling. Illustrating ignited her desire to create and sell meaningful art that calms the busy soul.

Anna then took a job as a medical assistant at a pediatric clinic, where the owner embraced Anna's therapeutic skills to calm kids before medical procedures. With another eye-opening experience, Anna decided to pursue her Master's Degree in Counseling from Ottawa University. By using her knack for matching clients' energy, she enjoys helping Artplay clients to feel secure in sharing openly.

Lana Schmitt

The Feelings Finder

Lana moved to Cave Creek, Arizona when she was nine years old. She wandered the desert to play, which means she understands imaginative play to the fullest. As an educated adult, she spent seven years providing direct support services to children and families involved in the child welfare system. She attended her undergraduate program (Women’s Studies) as well as her graduate programs at Arizona State University, where she earned a Masters Degree in Family Studies & Human Development in 2017, plus a Master’s Degree of Social Work in 2020.

Additionally, Lana has earned a certification in trauma-informed work with kids. Other areas of training include movement/sensory play therapy, as well as a Nurturing Parent Program. She thoroughly enjoys helping kids learn to identify their big feelings and channel their emotions in healthy ways.

Muffin

The Playful Piggie

This guinea pig is three years old and loves being the older sister. She shares her greens with her little sister, helping Artplay kids understand sibling bonding. Her cool temperament also makes her a joy to hold.

Tip Toes

The Careful Creature

This smaller guinea pig is only a year old and she is more timid than her older sister. She helps teach kids that it is okay to be shy... all emotions are okay. Kids can practice bravery alongside Tip Toes.

Popcorn

The Calm Canary

This sweet bird was hatched by Artplay itself, and has become a friend to so many kids. She is always kind, never mean, and she teaches kids about how to nurture animals. Popcorn loves as many kid-crafted toys as possible in her cage and even flies around the room, when a client earns some direct interaction!

Bubbles and Sushi

The Giving Goldfish

These two very playful fish were donated to Artplay after a child went to the State Fair and won them, to the parents chagrin. They have been with Artplay since 2018... and we attribute their longevity to the love of many sensory-seeking kids, who let the fish nibble-kiss on their fingers.