Leadership Team

Brightside Academy is a company made up of strong, talented individuals including the company’s leadership team. Knowing that children 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 programs.

Jack Safer, Chief Executive Officer

Jack Safer joined Brightside Academy as the Chief Operations Officer in 2016 after working in the social services and healthcare sector for over a decade. Spending almost 5 years overseeing daily operations, he will shift focus, and work towards the development and expansion of ancillary support systems, which will complement our core ECE program. Through Jack’s commitment and dedication to our communities, he and the team plan to implement a number of initiatives which will include children and families of all backgrounds, a therapeutic nursery model, behavioral and mental health awareness, parent and family support groups, and educator career paths. A key component will also be the establishment of the “Brightside Academy Foundation”. 

Ray Wojtowicz, Chief Financial Officer

Ray Wojtowicz joined Brightside Academy in May 2007. He holds a master’s in business administration in accounting and finance from the Katz Graduate School at the University of Pittsburgh. He has held multiple positions in the Finance Department throughout the years within Brightside Academy. As Chief Financial Officer, he oversees all accounting functions, grant administration, and CACFP compliance.

Tamara Cooper, Chief Operating Officer

Ms. Tamara Cooper has over 20 years of experience as an educator.  Her educational background has supported her efforts in serving in urban, rural, and suburban education.  A high impact leader, Ms. Cooper has served for over ten years as an Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of several independent schools.  She has served for over fifteen years in the public school arena as principal, director, assistant superintendent, teacher, and instructional assistant in grades Pre-k-12.  She currently holds superintendent licensure in several states and serves on several volunteer boards and state committees. She also serves as an independent district consultant. A global citizen, she is a visionary leader that focuses on community first and the impact of the collective.  

Sharen Woodley, Regional Vice President, Philadelphia

With over 20 years in the ECE field, Sharen brings extensive experience as a trainer, leader, and operational specialist. She has trained locally and nationally on topics such as diversity, leadership, classroom management, succession planning, and difficult conversations and behavior modification. Her experience and proven track record of success in training and leading early childhood organizations to success are an extraordinary asset to Brightside Academy.

Raina Kelly, Regional Vice President, Pittsburgh

Raina brings over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She has held both teaching and management positions throughout her tenure at Brightside. She focuses on team building, management, training, coaching, employee engagement, and bringing high quality to all areas of our service. Raina is a community partner and takes pride in being able to support and be of service to all families and children. 

Kim Kemp, Vice President, Human Resources

Kim comes to Brightside Academy with over a decade of human resources leadership in healthcare and retail built upon years of operational leadership and business management.  Kim focuses on driving recruiting and talent results by leveraging both traditional and innovative recruiting development strategies.  Kim has a tremendous passion for people and believes in supporting a safe learning environment for all ages.  Kim strives to support and invest in our Brightside Academy employees, wanting to help them achieve their highest potential as they continue to positively influence the futures of the children and the families we serve.

Shawna Starling, Vice President, Intervention and Development 

Having served in a leadership capacity within early intervention and special education for over 15 years, Shawna brings passion, drive, and focus to enrich the lives of our staff and students through optimal growth and learning opportunities.  Shawna’s mission is to not only nurture the early growth and development of young children but to also nurture the nurturer and cultivate sustainability in communities with the intent of achieving long-term positive effects on the global society.

Tracy Sammons-Venonsky, Vice President, Education and Development

Tracy Sammons-Venonsky joined Brightside Academy in January 2010. Coming from a family of educators, Tracy is passionate about the field of education and teacher growth and development. In partnership with her quality coaching team, Tracy supports teachers and leadership in implementing quality standards and best practices, which assists them in providing high-quality educational experiences to the children we serve. Tracy graduated from Rowan University where she obtained a degree in Education. In addition, she holds a highly qualified teacher certification.