Kiddie Academy Leadership

Kiddie Academy News or Activites for infants

Meet the Life Essentials Curriculum Advisory Council

The Kiddie Academy Curriculum Advisory Board meets regularly to review the activities that are instrumental to the Life Essentials® program. The board also provides valuable insight and guidance related to current research and trends in early childhood education.

Richard Peterson

Richard joined Kiddie Academy Curriculum Advisory Board in January 2021 after retiring as the company’s Chief Academic Officer. Richard came to Kiddie Academy® Educational Child Care in 2013 as Vice President of Education. In that role, he was able to apply his more than 30 years of executive-level leadership in guiding the education team to continually update and enhance the Life Essentials® curriculum, assuring it meets the highest quality standards. His team also facilitated franchise and director training. He holds a B.S. in biology and biological sciences from the University of Maryland and completed post-graduate certification in franchise management at Georgetown University.

Dr. Ocie Watson-Thompson

Ocie Watson-Thompson is Professor and Chairperson for the Department of Early Childhood Education at Towson University. Her graduate degree and undergraduate degree were earned at the University of Alabama in the areas of early childhood education, elementary education and special education with a concentration in language and literacy. She has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and teacher educator. Developmentally appropriate practices, culturally inclusive instruction for young children and quality preparation of teachers/practitioners have been the focus of her scholarly work. Dr. Watson-Thompson continues to teach, supervise and mentor undergraduate and graduate students as they deliver effective instruction and learning experiences in diverse and culturally inclusive environments.

Meet Kiddie Academy’s Executive Leadership Team

Kiddie Academy’s Executive Leadership Team brings together years of experience from every field necessary in running a dynamic and successful educational child care operation.

Michael J. Miller

Executive Chairman

As the son of the Kiddie Academy’s founders and the father of two Kiddie Academy graduates, Michael has been involved in the family business from the inception which has provided him with significant experience and guidance in all aspects of Kiddie Academy. Over the years, Michael has become a veteran in the childcare and franchise industry and has guided Kiddie Academy to become a national leader in education-based child care. While his responsibility is the overall management of the company, his primary role is centered on continual enhancement and development of the Kiddie Academy brand experience. Michael currently is Executive Chairman of Essential Brands, Inc.’s (Kiddie Academy’s parent company) Board of Directors. He holds a B.S. degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from Towson University.

Joshua Frick


Joshua became President of Kiddie Academy® Educational Child Care, effective January 1, 2020. He provides overall strategic leadership and guidance in all aspects of the business and maintains ancillary oversight of all departments. Josh joined the company in 2001 after working in the commercial properties sector. Since coming to Kiddie Academy, he has served as a Manager, Director and Vice President for our Real Estate team. In 2017, Josh was promoted to Chief Development Officer. Josh, who has over 18 years of franchising and real estate development experience, attended York College of Pennsylvania where he earned a B.S. in marketing.

Susan Wise

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Susan has been with Kiddie Academy since 1989, making her the longest tenured member of our executive team aside from Executive Chairman Michael Miller. Starting more than three decades ago in a data entry position, she has grown with the company. Susan has been involved in the Accounting, Education, Operations and Marketing departments and, as Chief Operations Officer, was instrumental in expanding the company’s Technology Department. In her current role, Susan provides overall financial and strategic leadership for Kiddie Academy, while maintaining direct supervision of the Accounting and Human Resources departments. Susan is also responsible for the implementation of the company’s financial plans, policies and accounting practices.

Casey Miller

Executive Vice President

Casey became Kiddie Academy’s Executive Vice President in January 2020 after serving as Director of Franchise Development. Since joining the company in 2013 after graduating from Loyola University in Baltimore with a degree in business management, Casey has shown his versatility, working in many departments, including Operations, Construction and Franchise Development. He has been instrumental in onboarding new Franchisee’s and expanding Kiddie Academy’s nationwide footprint.

Patrick Dandino

General Counsel

Patrick joins Kiddie Academy after holding senior legal positions with leading franchise organizations in the restaurant, retail and hospitality sectors. He also previously served as a government relations director for the International Franchise Association in Washington, D.C., and has collectively over 35 years’ experience in the franchising industry. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from DePauw University and earned his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Jeff Brazier

Chief Development Officer

Jeff was promoted from Vice President of Franchise Development to Chief Development officer in January 2020. He leads all development activities for the company, including franchise development, finance, real estate and construction. He became a member of the Kiddie Academy team in 2016. He brings over 15 years of business development and marketing experience to his role. Jeff has a B.S. in sports management from Towson University and earned his Masters from California University of Pennsylvania.

Greg Goodwin

Chief Technology Officer

Greg Joined Kiddie Academy in 2014 and oversees all technical aspects of the company. He has over 15 years of experience developing technology solutions within the education industry. Greg holds a M.S. degree in advanced information technologies and a B.S. degree in business information systems from Stevenson University. In 2019, Greg was recognized as one of the Baltimore area’s top young business leaders when he was named to the The Daily Record’s VIP List – Very Important Professionals Successful by 40.

Kevin Murphy

Chief Operating Officer

Kevin joined the Kiddie Academy team in 2005 as a Franchise Business Consultant, after a distinguished run as head of one of Maryland’s top private schools. In 2009, he was named Vice President of Operations, a role he held until 2018 when he was promoted to COO. Now, with more than 30 years of education experience, he oversees the Kiddie Academy Operations, Learning & Development and Education departments. Kevin attended Washington College where he earned a B.A. in philosophy and Loyola University of Maryland where he earned his M.Ed. in supervision and administration.

Nicole Salla

Chief Marketing Officer

Nicole joined Kiddie Academy as Vice President of Marketing in 2017 and was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer, effective January 2020. She is charged with continuously growing the company’s brand awareness and driving marketing innovation. She draws on more than 20 years of corporate and agency marketing experience. Nicole has a B.A. in English literature from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a M.S. in business management and marketing from the University of Maryland University College.

Meet the Kiddie Academy Education Team

Kiddie Academy’s Education Department oversees the day-to-day implementation and updating of the Life Essentials curriculum; advises the franchise system throughout national and state accreditation processes; and provides training to corporate staff and designated trainers in the Academys.

Tina Gates

Vice President of Learning & Development

Tina Gates, MS, MSEd, joined our company in March 2022 as the inaugural Vice President of Learning & Development. The department designs and develops Franchisee training, adult learning and development programs. She comes to us with a breadth of experience and knowledge as a senior-level adult training and learning leader. Tina also frequently writes and speaks on issues related to leadership, training and performance improvement. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University, an M.S. in Computer Information Systems from Boston University, and an M.S.Ed. in Learning Design Technology from Purdue University

Joy Turner

Vice President of Education

Joy has been Vice President of Education since January 2020. Her team continually updates and enhances the Life Essentials® curriculum. Joy joined the Kiddie Academy Education team in 2014 as the Director of Education Quality and spent two years working with Franchisees and Directors providing trainings, establishing and maintaining best practices through visits to the Academies as they worked to achieve NAEYC accreditation. In 2017 , she joined the Operations team as a Franchise Business Consultant, where she was able to provide support and guidance for both the educational and operations functions of Academies. Prior to coming to Kiddie Academy, she spent over 20 years in the early childhood education field with a national leader in corporate child care. Joy earned a B.S. in education from Salisbury University.