Who is Nicky?

The driving force behind the creation of the charity


Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

Nicky before and after brain surgery.  Brain surgery

Nicky was born with tuberous sclerosis complex or TSC. 

At 3 months, Nicky began having infantile spasms, which became full-blown seizures that would occur up to 100 times a day. After two session of surgical therapy, the seizures stopped, but there was irreparable damage to his brain. While the beauty in his existence and resilience is beyond measure, the differences between the level of independence between a healthy child and child with a disability are high. 

Gardens of Hope


As an adult, Nicky is bigger, stronger, and much more aggressive than when he was a child. His physical care & medical needs are greater, and he requires more intensive levels of intervention. Typical group home settings are not adequate to insure he is treated with the care and attention needed to provide  dignity and a quality of life. and further illuminates the vast need for the creation, development and long term vision and planning going into every aspect of a program such as NGOH. Parents like Adriana, want to rest assured that their "Nicky’s" live happy, fulfilling, and healthy lives, in a place of peace, that is run with compassion and care. 

Getting to know the team at NGOH


Adriana Piltz

Founder and CEO, 

Born in Slovakia and a mother of three, Adriana has been a COO and a President for fast paced NYC brokerage firms. Turning her attention to her 20 year old son with TSC & IDD, she left Wall Street in 2018 to leverage her experience and contacts to launch a new generation of services for IDD adults… Nicky’s Gardens of Hope.

"My Child With Special Needs Is Now A Young Adult, And This Is My Biggest Fear"



Chris Niccolls

President & Chief Operating Officer, Chris has worked at the world’s largest Investment Banks, Legal, and Insurance companies. He has managed service delivery, created new departments, re-engineering and improving how corporations work. At NGOH Chris works with other team members to develop disruptive innovations in service delivery, to provide residents and their families with higher standards of living.  


Thomas VanAntwerp


Director of Business Development 

Drawing on 20 years of consulting, sales, and project management experience, Tom can turn common life experience into teaching moments… for his three children, for the teams he coaches, and for his work colleagues. Tom will leverage his professional sales experience and team building to develop and promote the profitable business ventures that will fund Nicky’s Gardens of Hope.


Leyla Collins

Board Secretary, Head of HR

A former head of HR for the SEC, Leyla is a concerned parent, and has developed educational programs for NYC's School Board’s dual language program. Leyla has also evaluated educational programs as part of the District created School Leadership Team, has mentored medical students in testing methodologies and co-wrote numerous grants and scholarly articles.


Jon Merriman

As Head of Capital Markets of B. Riley, Jon develops financial solutions for public & private clients. With over 25 years of I-Bank experience, Jon brings to NGOH a deep understanding of  healthcare, technology, & consumer sectors, and his extensive institutional and personal networks. Jon served on numerous private & public company boards. He is a frequent guest or contributor on: Bloomberg TV, CNBC’s “Fast Money”, The Wall Street Journal, and Barron’s, and contributes to numerous charities and non-profits.


George Raab

Formerly the  Chief Financial Officer for Guggenheim Partners brokerage business, and  the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of Bear Stearns’ Investment  Bank, George has also served as the Chief Financial Officer of New York  City’s Department of Education, where he managed their $20 billion budget. In addition to George’s extensive background in driving profitability and  identifying operational and financial risk, George is also the father of  five children, including a son with autism, and is active in Catholic Charities.


Steven Kelley

President and CEO of Ellenville Regional Hospital (ERH) since September 2003. He has a diverse background in the computer, research, and healthcare industries. Under Mr. Kelley’s leadership, ERH has been recognized with 4 national awards from HRSA for patient safety and medication safety, has been recognized by the National Rural Health Association as one of the top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in the country for Quality, and has been a leader in New York State in the areas of quality measurement and rural health. Many other significant awards have followed.


Sandra Ditore

Sandra Ditore is Regional Director of Membership for the East Region at Family Office Exchange (FOX). In her role, Ms. Ditore is responsible for identifying prospective family and advisor members, assessing their needs and priorities, and ensuring they have a deep understanding of the benefits of FOX membership. In addition to new member acquisitions, Sandra is responsible for identifying and securing sponsorship for FOX forums and educational workshops. 

Sandra has more than 25 years of experience in sales and marketing. Before joining FOX in 2002, Sandra was a Senior Account Manager for a Chicago-based healthcare communications firm, where she developed marketing strategies for global pharmaceutical brands. Prior to this, she held research and marketing positions at several Wall Street investment banking firms, including Drexel Burnham Lambert, Dean Witter Reynolds, and Dillon Read & Co. 


Gitta Lakatos


Jill Woodworth

Social Media Director

Jill, Co-Owner, producer & host of the podcast TSC Talks , brings over 22 years as a case manager, caregiver and parent of children with special needs, including TSC, Intellectual Disability & autism. She has worked with multiple state agencies to explore, develop, and facilitate optimal placement in available programs that contribute to their engagement with society in functional ways, and access the supports necessary to make a transition to more independent life choices. Jill will be focusing on Social Media Marketing, developing creative written, audio & video content for NGOH and developing Nicky’s Gardens of Hope's “virtual village”, podcast development, developing disabilities awareness, a data library, and tools & training for parents/caregivers, guides/webinars/conferences on parent support, & proxy for IDD parents.


Victor Piltz


Follow us!