Chris Commarota, Vice President of Construction
Chris joined Kiddie Academy in 2000. He oversees all construction and opening activities for Kiddie Academy. Chris has over 25 years of construction management experience and holds a degree in Business Management from the University of Baltimore.
Joshua Frick, Chief Development Officer
Josh joined Kiddie Academy in 2001 as a Real Estate Manager and in 2003 was promoted to the Director of Real Estate and was subsequently promoted to Vice President of Real Estate. 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 has over 15 years of franchising and real estate development experience. Prior to joining Kiddie Academy, Josh worked for a regional real estate developer in Pennsylvania. Josh earned his BS in Marketing with a double minor in Management and Entrepreneurship from York College of Pennsylvania. When he’s not working at Kiddie Academy, Josh enjoys spending time with his two daughters, traveling and working out in the gym.
Greg Goodwin, Chief Technology Officer
Greg joined Kiddie Academy in 2014 and oversees all technical aspects of the company. Greg has 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. Besides following the latest technology trends, Greg enjoys hiking and traveling with his wife and two children and spending time in the garden.
Gregory Helwig, President
Greg joined Kiddie Academy in October 2008. He provides overall strategic leadership for the entire company, while maintaining direct supervision of the Franchise Sales, Real Estate, Construction, Legal and Marketing departments. Greg received a BA degree from Kean University and attended Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Graduate School of Business. Greg has over 25 years of executive-level franchise industry experience, including work in optical manufacturing and dispensing, vitamin and nutritional supplement retailing, and the after-school tutoring industries. Greg has been married for 25 years and has two children. When not with his family, Greg enjoys fly-fishing and often travels to out of the way destinations to pursue his hobby.
Ben Lieb, Vice President of Technology
Ben joined Kiddie Academy in 2017 and leads our Technology team in helping support Kiddie Academy’s strategic and tactical initiatives. He has over 20 years of IT experience across a wide spectrum of industries, including extensive experience in the education space. Ben earned his Bachelor in Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in both Computer Science and Information Systems. Ben enjoys the outdoors, fishing, biking and spending quality time with his wife and four children.
Kevin Murphy, Chief Operating Officer
Kevin joined Kiddie Academy in 2005. After leading the Operations Department for over a decade, Kevin now oversees the Operations, Education, and Marketing departments. Kevin has 28 years of experience in education and over 20 years in organizational leadership. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Washington College and a MEd in Supervision and Administration from Loyola University. Beyond his duties at Kiddie Academy, Kevin is a family man who cherishes his time with wife and son, staying busy with the many ongoing demands that school, sports and family commitments bring to bear.
Michael 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 led 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 BS degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Towson University. Beyond office hours, he frequently cultivates new initiatives for Kiddie Academy while bicycling.
Greg Owens, Vice President of Real Estate
Greg joined the Kiddie Academy Team as Vice President of Real Estate with more than 15 years of experience working in franchising. He began his career working with Subway Development Corporation, transitioning to Taco Bell, and more recently working for Halvorsen Real Estate as their Vice President of Acquisitions. Greg attained his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Clemson University and has recently relocated from South Carolina. Greg enjoys running in 5K events and up to marathons, traveling and exploring exciting local restaurants, and time with his wife, son, and Border Collie. Greg is also an avid college football fan.
Richard Peterson, Vice President of Education
Richard joined Kiddie Academy in 2013. He leads the education team in the development and updating of Kiddie Academy’s proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum, guides the company’s accreditation process and Educational Advisory Board, and oversees the company’s Training Department. Prior to joining Kiddie Academy, Richard led education and operations for the Eastern division of an employer sponsored child care company and spent more than 20 years in multi-site management in educational settings. Richard holds a B.S. in Biology and Biological Science from the University of Maryland, a Certification in Franchise Management from Georgetown University and a Certified Franchise Executive designation from the International Franchise Association. For over fifteen years, Richard has served the community in which he lives as a highly trained and sworn Baltimore County Auxiliary Police Officer. He holds the rank of Major and serves as East Side Commander and Academy Instructor.
Nicole Salla, Vice President of Marketing
Nicole joined Kiddie Academy in 2017 and leads the consumer and franchise sales marketing efforts. She brings over 21 years of national marketing experience, mostly in the senior living industry, overseeing the development, execution, measurement, and communications for multi-channel marketing plans. Nicole holds a MS degree in Business Management/Marketing from University of Maryland University College and a BA degree from University of Maryland Baltimore County. She enjoys camping and hiking with her husband and four children.
Kevin Shaffer, Vice President of Finance
Kevin joined Kiddie Academy in 2015. He provides leadership to the Finance team and supports the franchise community through operating analysis and assistance in obtaining lender financing. Prior to joining Kiddie Academy, he has had experience providing finance and operating leadership in a variety of educational service businesses that provided K-12 classroom instruction, virtual learning, post-secondary education and franchise based tutoring. Kevin earned a BS in Accounting from the University of Delaware and a Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University. Away for the office Kevin enjoys sports and traveling with his wife and two sons.
Lene Steelman, Controller
Lene Steelman joined Kiddie Academy in 2005 and leads the Accounting team. Prior to joining Kiddie Academy, she spent four years at a public/outsourced accounting firm and 15 years working in private sector accounting, holding various positions. Lene holds a B.S. in Accounting from Bob Jones University. When she’s not working, Lene enjoys spending time with her two children and her two Doberman Pinschers.
Susan Wise, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Susan was promoted to Executive Vice President in January 2018 while continuing to serve as Chief Financial Officer, a role she obtained in 2003. Susan served as Chief Operations Officer from 2011 to 2017. Prior to her position as Chief Financial Officer, Susan served as Kiddie Academy’s Controller. Susan provides overall financial and strategic leadership for the entire company, while maintaining direct supervision of the Accounting department. Susan is responsible for the implementation of the Kiddie Academy financial plans, policies and accounting practices. Since 1989, Susan has held positions of increasing responsibility at Kiddie Academy. Susan enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering in her community.
Greg White, Vice President of Franchise Development
Greg joined Kiddie Academy in 2013 and leads the franchise development efforts, marketing the Kiddie Academy business opportunity and managing the development team. He also works with franchisees as they expand their businesses to open additional locations. Greg has over 20 years of small business experience and understands the rewards and demands of running a business. He earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Thiel College, as well as Minors in Economics and Philosophy. Greg’s interests include traveling with his family, cooking, and playing golf.
Jeffrey Brazier, Director of Franchise Development
Jeff joined the Kiddie Academy franchise development team in 2016. As part of the development team, he works with franchise candidates as they proceed through our franchise discovery process. Jeff has over 16 years of business development experience. Jeff holds a BS from Towson University and MS from California University of PA. In his spare time, he spends many nights and weekends on the field or on a court attending his two sons sporting events and playing golf.
Chris Shaffer, Director of Franchise Development
Chris became a member of the Kiddie Academy team in 2014. In his role, He works closely with franchise candidates to guide them through our Discovery and Orientation process in becoming a franchisee with Kiddie Academy. Chris has over 18 years of sales and marketing experience. When Chris is not guiding potential Franchisees through the Discovery Process, he enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two sons. He is an aspiring chef and connoisseur of healthy & nutritiously delicious foods, as well as an avid reader.
Broc Silberzahn, Director of Franchise Development
Broc joined the Kiddie Academy Franchise Development team in 2013. In his role, he works closely with franchise candidates to provide a thorough overview of the process required to become approved as a Kiddie Academy franchisee. Broc has 20 years of business experience, with over 12 years of franchise industry experience in the education sector. He earned his BA in Political Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, located within walking distance of his childhood home in Arbutus, Maryland. When not focused on new business development, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, following the Baltimore sports scene and playing an occasional round of golf.
Curriculum Advisory Board
The Kiddie Academy Curriculum Advisory Board meets regularly to review the feasibility of activity implementation and developmental appropriateness of all activities that are part of the Kiddie Academy Life Essentials program. The board also provides valuable insight related to current research and trends in early childhood education.
Dr. Beth Rogowsky, Curriculum Advisory Board Member
Beth Rogowsky, Ed.D. has 14 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 A. Scully, CURRICULUM ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER
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 first-hand 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, 6th Edition.
Dr. Ocie Watson-Thompson, Curriculum Advisory Board Member
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 thirty years of experience as a teacher and teacher educator. Developmentally appropriate practices, cultural 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.