Brightside Academy Ohio - Leadership Team

Brightside Academy Ohio is a child care company made up of strong, talented individuals, starting from the leadership team. Knowing that people learn the most in childhood, our entire team, from leaders to teachers and staff, work hard to provide all families access to an excellent educational and child care experience. Guided by strong principles and genuine passion, we make sure that all children enrolled in our preschool and child care programs in Ohio experience the Brightside Academy difference.

Learn more about our leadership team, the bright minds and kind hearts behind the Brightside Academy Ohio.

Ezra Beren

CEO & President

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

COO

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.

Cherry Orlina

VP of Human Resources and Operations

A seasoned business and HR professional, Cherry has assumed a number of executive roles in different organizations. However, she has always had a soft spot for children. One of her aspirations was to have her own childcare facility. She also actively serves at their local school board and parent-teacher organizations, and volunteers as a tutor. With an extensive HR and management background coupled with the love for early childcare, she felt more than happy to take the VP of HR and Operations role at BSA.

Cherry has a bachelor’s degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also holds a dual master’s degree in Business Administration and Human Resources from DePaul University. 

Cherry can be reached at corlina@brightsideohio.com

Kylie Kukul

Regional Director - Columbus, Akron & Cleveland

Naturally good with children, Kylie started her education journey as a nanny 25 years ago. Aside from her natural inclination toward childcare and education, she also loves business and operational management. Fortunately, she got the opportunity to work at Brightside Academy in 2006. Kylie holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development and a masters degree in Public Health. She has worked as a teacher, director, business director, and regional director in her 25-year career.

Outside work, Kylie enjoys traveling and outdoor adventures such as skiing, which she has been doing since she was three. 

Kylie can be reached at kkukul@brightsideohio.com.

Katherine Maccagnone

Executive Director - Toledo Head Start

Katherine has been leading Brightside Academy Ohio’s Head Start grant in Toledo for the last four years. Her 14-year early childhood education experience started when she worked in Germany with toddlers and preschool children. She then joined 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, covering 16 counties.

Katherine attained a Bachelor’s Degree of Early Childhood Education from the University of Toledo. An advocate for young children, her goal is to help 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

Amanda Uhrig

Director of Education and SUTQ Licensing

With a bachelor’s degree in Education from The University of Akron, Amanda has devoted more than 10 years in the education field. She is committed to creating a strong, developmentally appropriate early education program that meets or exceeds state and local regulations as well as their best practices.

Prior to joining Brightside Academy Ohio, Amanda was the Director for the Early Head Start Childcare Partnership Program at the YWCA Canton. Since joining Brightside 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. 

Amanda can be reached at auhrig@brightsideohio.com.

Darnisha Allen

Director of Education and SUTQ Licensing

Darnisha Allen attended Miles College where she received her bachelor’s degree in Child Development. After working at child development 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 her current role as a director. She has worked at three of the four BSA centers in Columbus. 

Darnisha has an amazing goddaughter whom she loves unconditionally. She is also a part of Sigma Tau Delta (National English Honor Society) and Impact Mentoring. Outside work, her hobbies include traveling, taking care of her pets, and discovering creative ways to help children learn.

Darnisha can be reached at dpallen@brightsideacademy.com

Loretta Williams

Director of Corporate Training and Professional Development

As a lover of children and education, Loretta (AKA Lady Pearl) has always had the passion and love for educating young children. After earning her degree in Early Childhood Education and Curriculum, she decided to dedicate her teachings and knowledge to the entity of educating young children. Prior to joining Brightside Academy, she spent five years teaching in Akron Public Schools’ special needs programs, three years as a preschool teacher in Garfield Heights, and 10 years as a Center Director for Childtime Learning Centers.

Married for 38 years with one beautiful daughter and five grandchildren, Loretta enjoys singing in church, cooking, baking, crafts, and spending time with family and friends.

Loretta can be reached at lwilliams@brightsideohio.com.

Courtney Harris

Marketing & Enrollment Director

Courtney joined Brightside Academy Ohio as 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. With more than a decade of experience as a marketing professional in both the public and private sectors and in different industries, she manages and oversees community engagement, events, charitable contributions, marketing training, and more.

Courtney has a bachelor's degree 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.

Mary Davis

Sr. Director | Cleveland and Akron Regions

Mary has been with Brightside Academy Ohio since 2013, starting her career with us as Child Care Administrator and working her way up to becoming Senior Director. Early Childhood Education has been Mary’s passion for over 25 years. 

Mary believes that she can make a difference every day for the Brightside Academy Ohio students, teachers, and directors by sharing her knowledge, compassion, and support for the betterment of the children in our care. As one of the long-time members of Brightside Academy, Mary loves the excitement and adventure that each new day brings working with the diverse cultures and enhancing the skills of so many individual personalities.

Mary can be reached at mdavis@brightsideohio.com.

Jill Bowe

Senior Director - Columbus Region & Harrisburg Pike

Jill joined Brightside Academy Ohio in 2018 as a preschool teacher and has since worked every role leading up to director. With a passion for early childhood, she has been in childcare for 23 years. She has made it her goal to make sure every child receives the best care and love that WE ALL deserve. Jill aims to continue growing as a professional and to give children at Brightside Academy Ohio the best possible learning experiences that will help them develop in all aspects of life.

Jill has three lovely children: Allie, Memphis and Cruz. She is a proud breast cancer survivor and is involved in many charities related to the cause.

Jill can be reached at jbowe@brightsideohio.com

Susan Frazier

CACFP Specialist

Susan has been an educator for over 35 years. Her experiences include teaching and being an administrator in various for-profit and non-profit educational centers and 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. 

As a founding member of the Tom Green county chapter of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, Susan published the Dayton AEYC newsletter The Kiteline. She also serves on the board of directors for Ohio AEYC. She has also written and facilitated numerous staff training, as well as preschool and summer camp curriculums. 

Susan can be reached at sfrazier@brightsideohio.com

Tara Hereford

Sr. HR Generalist

Tara joined Brightside Academy Ohio as its Senior Human Resource Generalist in September 2019. With over 14 years of experience working in human resources, she decided she wanted to enter a different field after working 10 years in the long term care field. Skilled in many areas of human resources including payroll processing, talent acquisition, HRIS, benefit administration, on-boarding, training, and employee/labor relations, Tara is currently studying to obtain her Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional, SHRM-CP certification. 

During her free time, Tara enjoys watching movies, spending time with her family, and cooking delectable dishes.

Tara can be reached at thereford@brightsideohio.com.