/Leadership Team
Leadership Team2020-12-23T02:50:49+00:00

Leadership Team

Brightside Academy Ohio is a company made up of strong, talented individuals — including the company’s leadership team. Knowing that people learn the most in childhood, the company’s leadership team, along with their respective teams, work to provide all families access to an excellent educational experience for all children enrolled in our preschool and child care programs.

Click on each name below to learn more about our Brightside Academy Ohio leadership team.

Ezra Beren joined Brightside Academy Ohio as the President of Ohio operations after working in the financial services sector. Ezra brings a diverse business and operations background, with over eight years of experience helping companies expand their footprint. Ezra’s hands-on leadership style and creative approach to problem solving has enabled him to execute highly complex programs and initiatives within the various organizations he served. He brings a community service and innovative management focus to Brightside Academy with the goal of expanding our services for children and families of all backgrounds by providing them with the highest quality child care and education. Ezra graduated with honors from Fairleigh Dickinson University and holds a Degree in Business Administration.

Ezra can be reached at eberen@brightsideohio.com.


Monty Stefansky joined Brightside Academy Ohio as Chief Financial Officer. With a diverse business background, Monty worked for numerous years in a private equity firm and helped grow the company’s holdings in the Healthcare Industry with a focus on Drug & Alcohol Rehab. In addition, Monty specialized in merger and acquisitions in various different industries.

Monty’s focus and key role with Brightside Academy Ohio is to stabilize the current operations and to grow Brightside Academy Ohio’s imprint across the state of Ohio and to ensure that our Ohio operation is the premier child care and preschool provider available to all families.

Monty can be reached at monty@brightsideohio.com.


Amanda Uhrig is honored to serve as the Education and SUTQ State Licensing Director at Brightside Academy Ohio. Having earned her bachelor’s degree in Education at The University of Akron, Amanda has devoted more than 10 years in the education field, working with programs that serve young children and their families. She is committed to creating a strong, developmentally appropriate early educational program that meets or exceeds state and local regulations as well as their best practices. Her goals and vision include improving early childhood programming and creating a more collaborative, cohesive environment for children, families, and staff here at Brightside Academy Ohio.

Prior to becoming the Education and SUTQ State Licensing Director at Brightside Academy Ohio, Amanda was the Director for the Early Head Start Childcare Partnership Program at the YWCA Canton. Within this role, she was responsible for all program operations and program compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Child Care Licensing, and Step Up to Quality program standards. Within this role, she specialized in the continuous improvement of programming and administrative systems.

Since joining Brightside Academy Ohio in November of 2019, Amanda has used her experience in Early Childhood Education Administration and her strong background in instructional leadership to provide unique insights into how Brightside Academy Ohio centers can support our most vulnerable children in becoming school ready. She has also focused her energy on improving the current program systems and continues to work at both the state and local levels alongside education influencers to affect change.

Amanda can be reached at auhrig@brightsideohio.com.

Courtney recently joined Brightside Academy Ohio as the Marketing Director in August 2018. She is responsible for the marketing, communication, and business development efforts for Brightside Academy Ohio. In addition to strategic business development efforts, she directs community relations, marketing, and on and offline advertising for the Ohio region. She manages and oversees community engagement, events, charitable contributions, marketing training, and more.

She has more than a decade of experience as a marketing professional in both the public and private sectors and in different industries, including contract food service, automotive, and education, and has also worked overseas in Kazakstan. Prior to joining Brightside she was the owner and Creative Director of Through My Lynnz Media, a media company that specializes in visual branding, graphic design, and web design for small to medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations.

Courtney has a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from the University of Louisville and a Masters in Business Administration from University of Dallas.

She has traveled the globe and loves photography along with other artistic mediums.

Courtney can be reached at charris@brightsideohio.com or (216) 313-0429

Tara Hereford has joined BSA as the new Human Resource Generalist. Tara’s current role will focus on Benefits and Payroll. Tara has over 14 years working in Human Resources and is skilled in; payroll processing, talent acquisition, HRIS, benefit administration, on-boarding/training, and employee/labor relations.  After working 10 years in the long term care field, she decided she wanted to enter a different field. Tara is currently studying to obtain her Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional, SHRM-CP certification. In her free time Tara enjoys watching movies, spending time with family, and cooking.

Tara can be reached at thereford@brightsideohio.com.

Susan has been an educator for over 35 years. Her experiences include teaching and being an administrator in for profit, non-profit, and military centers, public, private, and parochial schools. She holds a CDA Credential, a Montessori Pre-Primary Teaching Certificate, a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Ohio Northern University, and a master’s degree in early childhood leadership and Advocacy from the University of Dayton. Susan has written and presented numerous staff trainings for several professional conferences, and has written curriculum for summer camps and preschool. She was a founding member of the Tom Green county chapter of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, published the Dayton AEYC newsletter The Kiteline, and serves on the board of directors for Ohio AEYC.

Susan can be reached at sfrazier@brightsideohio.com.

Susan can be reached at sfrazier@brightsideohio.com.

Darnisha Allen attended Miles College where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development. After working at centers in the Cleveland area, she moved to Columbus. She began her employment with Brightside Academy in 2013 as a lead teacher, working her way up to get her current director’s role. She has worked at 3 of the 4 center in Columbus.  She has an amazing God daughter whom she loves unconditionally.  She is also a part of Sigma Tau Delta (National English Honor Society) and Impact Mentoring. Her other hobbies include traveling, taking care of her pets, and discovering creative ways to help children learn.

Darnisha can be reached at dpallen@brightsideacademy.com.

Katherine Maccagnone has led the current Head Start grant for Brightside Academy in Toledo for the last 4 years, and has 14 years of early childhood education experience. She attended the University of Toledo where she attained a Bachelor’s Degree of Early Childhood Education. 

Ms. Maccagnone started her career working abroad in Germany with toddlers and preschool children. She then worked at the YWCA of Northwest Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral, where she assisted in enhancing the quality of care they provided for birth-to-school-age children. While there, she coordinated the Step Up to Quality Program, providing mentoring to child care centers and homes with developmentally appropriate practices and administrative functions. She covered sixteen counties, organizing state-approved training and technical assistance, serving on various ECE committees, developing state-approved training, and coordinating state reports. 

At the YWCA, Ms. Maccagnone also worked with several local agencies, including the United Way of Greater Toledo, Read for Literacy, and Harbor Behavioral Health, to create an Early Childhood Literacy Collaborative to increase literacy skills in low-income areas. Partners from this collaborative group meet to review the city and state Kindergarten Readiness Assessment scores, analyze licensing information, and work directly with local child care programs and their families to provide intensive technical assistance. 

Ms. Maccagnone is an advocate for young children. She was also on the GroundWork campaign. GroundWork is an advocacy initiative working to advance quality early learning and development as the most transformative strategy to improve school outcomes, increase the life-long success of Ohio’s children, and lay a strong foundation for economic prosperity in our state.

Katherine can be reached at kmac@brightsideohio.com