Company Leadership

Meet the Team

Learn more about the business and education professionals on our Corporate Leadership and Franchise Development teams and Curriculum Advisory Board.

Meet the Kiddie Academy Corporate Leadership Team

Kiddie Academy’s Corporate Leadership Team brings together years of experience from every field necessary in running a dynamic and successful educational child care franchising operation – business management, operations, finance, real estate, construction, information technology, marketing, legal and, of course, education.

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.

Greg Helwig

President

Greg joined Kiddie Academy Educational Child Care as Chief Development Officer in 2008. In 2011, he was promoted to Chief Operations Officer and then to President later that same year. Greg brought with him a distinguished track record of more than 20 years of executive-level experience in the educational and health franchise industries. In more than a decade with Kiddie Academy, Greg has overseen the company’s tremendous expansion, providing overall strategic leadership and guidance, while maintaining direct supervision of several critical components of the business. He earned a B.A. from Kean University, where he studied business and psychology, and pursued an MBA at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

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.

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, Education and Marketing 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.

Josh Frick

Chief Development Officer

Josh joined Kiddie Academy 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 to oversee all development activity for the company, including franchise development, finance, real estate and construction. Josh, who has over 15 years of franchising and real estate development experience, attended York College of Pennsylvania where he earned a B.S. in marketing.

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.

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.

Nicole Salla

Vice President of Marketing

Nicole joined Kiddie Academy in 2017 and leads the company’s consumer and franchise marketing efforts. She draws on more than 20 years of national marketing experience as she leads the development, execution, measurement, and communications for multi-channel marketing plans. 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.

Sharon Lytwynec

Vice President of Operations

Sharon joined the company in 2018, bringing considerable expertise in early childhood education to Kiddie Academy. After teaching preschool and kindergarten, she rose through the organizational leadership ranks at the nation’s largest corporately owned and publicly traded early childhood education company. There, she served as Center Director, District Manager, Regional Director of Operations, Region Vice President and Vice President of Operations. She holds a B.A. in American studies and early childhood education from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Richard Peterson

Vice President of Education

Richard joined Kiddie Academy in 2013 and brings over 30 years of executive-level leadership to the organization. Richard and his team continually update and enhance Life Essentials®, assuring it meets the highest quality standards. His team also facilitates franchise and director training. He is a Certified Franchise Executive. Richard earned a B.S. in biology and biological sciences from the University of Maryland and completed post-graduate certification in franchise management at Georgetown University.

Chris Commarota

Vice President of Construction

Chris joined Kiddie Academy in 2000. He oversees Academy development and opening activities, including the entitlements process, site planning, design and construction project management. Chris has over 30 years of construction management experience and holds a degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

Kevin Shaffer

Vice President of Finance

Kevin joined Kiddie Academy in 2015. He oversees the finance team and supports Franchisees with obtaining lender financing and providing operating analysis. Previously, Kevin led finance and operations initiatives for a variety of educational service businesses. Kevin earned a B.S. in accounting from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

Greg Owens

Vice President of Real Estate

Greg joined Kiddie Academy in 2017, bringing more than 15 years of experience working in real estate and franchising. Greg’s background in site selection, market planning, lease negotiations and location development makes him the ideal leader for our real estate team. He has a B.S. in business management from Clemson University.

Ben Lieb

Vice President of Technology

Ben joined Kiddie Academy in 2016 and leads the technology team in supporting strategic and tactical initiatives. Ben has more than 20 years of information technology experience on both the software and hardware sides of the industry. He has a B.S. from University of Maryland Baltimore County in both computer science and information systems.

Meet the Kiddie Academy Franchise Development Team

These experienced, knowledgeable franchise industry professionals can answer your questions and guide you through the steps leading to ownership of a Kiddie Academy franchise location.

Jeff Brazier

Vice President of Franchise Development

Jeff became a member of the Kiddie Academy team in 2016. He brings over 15 years of business development and marketing experience to the Kiddie Academy Development team. Jeff works closely with candidates, providing a thorough overview and guidance on how to become a Kiddie Academy Franchisee. Jeff has a B.S. in sports management from Towson University and earned his Masters from California University of Pennsylvania.

Broc Silberzahn

Senior Director of Franchise Development

Broc became a member of the Kiddie Academy team in 2013. He has over 15 years of business experience, with 10 years of franchise industry experience in the education field. He works closely with candidates, providing them with detailed information and guiding them through the process required to become approved as a Kiddie Academy Franchisee. He has a B.S. in political science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Casey Miller

Director of Franchise Development

Casey joined Kiddie Academy in 2013 after graduating from Loyola University in Baltimore with a degree in Business Management. As Kiddie Academy franchise candidates work their way through the discovery and orientation process, it’s Casey’s responsibility to make sure they’re provided with all the information and support they need.

Chris Shaffer

Director of Franchise Development

Chris became a member of the Kiddie Academy team in 2014. He brings more than 18 years of business and marketing expertise to his role as Director of Franchise Development. Chris provides essential information and guidance to candidates who are going through the orientation and discovery process on their path to becoming franchisees with Kiddie Academy. Chris attended the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland and Randolph-Macon University.

Charley Stoessel

Director of Franchise Development

Charley joined Kiddie Academy in 2018. He brings over 20 years of operations, business development and education experience to his role. Charley introduces candidates to, and guides them through, the discovery and orientation process that leads to becoming a Franchisee with Kiddie Academy.

Meet the Kiddie Academy Curriculum Advisory Board

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.

Dr. Beth Rogowsky

Beth Rogowsky, Ed.D. has more than 13 years of teaching experience in both rural and urban public schools. In 2013, Dr. Rogowsky completed postdoctoral training at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University where her research focused on improving the language and literacy skills of learners from birth to adulthood. Being a postdoctoral fellow in a neuroscience research center linked Dr. Rogowsky’s previous teaching experience with the science of how the brain learns. Currently, Dr. Rogowsky is an Assistant Professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in the College of Education.

Dr. Patricia Scully

Pat Scully, Ph.D., is an associate professor of education and the coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she teaches courses in literacy development and curriculum. Dr. Scully received her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Maryland College Park, and has more than 35 years of experience as an early childhood educator of children from 2 to 12 years old. Her firsthand experience directing a child care center helped her establish a training and professional development institute for teachers working in a variety of early childhood settings. Dr. Scully has authored several publications focusing on topics of early childhood curriculum, teacher and child stress, and community building in early childhood classrooms including the textbook, “Families, Schools, and Communities: Building Partnerships for Educating Children, 7th Edition.”

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.

Dr. Scott Anderson

Dr. Andersen has over 25 years of education experience that includes teaching, being a principal and leading a region of preschools in the southeastern United States. He is currently with Pearson, leading a team of educators developing virtual learning partnerships with school districts across 11 states. He has served as a superintendent of schools in three districts and as a high school principal, teacher and software developer. Dr. Andersen has been recognized as a Leader for Learning by AASA – the School Superintendent’s Association – and is a two-time recipient of the Magna Award by the National School Boards Association. He is a founding member and former board president for the ABLE school, designed using effective non-traditional, project-based learning to provide hope to students who fall through the cracks of a traditional classroom. Dr. Andersen holds a B.S. in computer science, an M.S. in educational technology, and an Ed.S. and Ed.D. in educational leadership.

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