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.
The Kid Empowerist
Becky has been empowering the lives of her clients for 20 years. Becky enjoys advocating for the needs of Artplay clients, often becoming a liaison with teachers and schools. 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 at Ottawa University, in Phoenix. With her extensive education and experience, Becky is an asset to the children that attend Artplay.
The Caring Creative
Allie's youth was spent in Phoenix, before moving to Los Angeles to attend The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She graduated with a degree in Fashion Design and for 13 years, Allie worked for major manufacturers and retailers, creating clothing lines for Target, Disney and beyond. It was a growing experience that, in turn, led her to wanting to be in a more helping-related profession. So, Allie decided to move back to Arizona in order to help under-served children in our community, using art. From there, Allie took the valuable tools that she had gained, plus her Support Specialist Certification, in order to work as a Behavior Coach and Mentor to kids in the foster system. She provided them with a safe place to express themselves openly. Now, at Artplay, Allie is focused on helping kids, 6-18 years old, to lower their anxiety and build strong self-identities using her playful, gentle guidance. Being a lover of animals, she always has a therapy pet in her space, for kids that love to practice nurturing.
The Expressive Artist
Whitney was born and raised on Long Island, New York. Upon completion of her BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Stony Brook University, she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Expressive Arts Therapy. Whitney holds the value of self expression in high regard, as her mother was also an art therapist.
After completing grad school, and yearning for a new environment, Whitney moved to San Francisco, where she sang and wrote lyrics in a band, played soccer and painted. Then, with her husband and two small children, Whitney came to Phoenix in 2018. While being a mom-close-to-home, she has led kids camps, as well as using her fine arts skills as a muralist for local Arizona businesses. Now, with her own children being older and more self-sufficient, Whitney has joined Artplay in order to help kids feel empowered by the knowledge of themselves and the world around them.
The Genuine One
Orren moved to Arizona from Illinois, specifically to expand her career choices. She has a passion for helping children build confidence so they can advocate for themselves. In Illinois, Orren worked for seven years helping kids at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, where she learned a lot about how to treat kids with care. Another job Orren had was as a mobile crisis worker, making use of her Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (CTI) training. She has experience in trauma, foster care, adoption, anxiety, plus grief and loss.
Orren earned her Master's Degree in Family Consumer & Sciences at Eastern Illinios University, followed by a Master's Degree of Social Work at Aurora University in Illinois. She also has a BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology. For fun, Orren loves on her nieces and nephews, always feeling fulfilled by kids! At Artplay, she enjoys helping children between the ages of 7 to 18 years old.
The Super Supporter
Sherry gets the nickname "Super Supporter" because she focuses on each child to the fullest extent. She describes her philosophy as putting every child in a bubble, focusing on their needs so that they can better understand their own strengths. Sherry is the newest member of the Artplay team. Her enthusiasm for helping Artplay kids is humungous. She grew up in a home where her mom ran a daycare, which is when her longing for helping kids was fostered. Sherry also wants parents to feel comfortable with the Artplay process, so she makes sure to create strong working relationships.
Growing up in the St. Louis area, Sherry moved to Arizona in order to enjoy the outdoors she loves. In Illinois, Sherry earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Art and Sociology, followed by getting her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling. She is highly educated, is an artist herself, plus she has a real sense for helping kids in a respectful and kind way.
The Big Boy
If kids want to be followed around the room, this pet rat will do just that! He loves human interaction and human shoes. Periwinkle is a big fan of custom-made toys for his cage, so kids can create items that he attaches to immediately (giving clients a chance to nurture, plus feel pride).
The Cutie Patootie
This friendly female rodent is an absolute riot. She provides so much joy, as kids can hold, feed and play with her during sessions. She is also a really great model for self-care with her kid clients, as she cleans herself incessantly and eats healthy food such as lettuce, carrots and bananas.
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.