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Lightbridge Academy Positions Itself for Rapid Growth in 2021 With the Announcement of Key Leadership Appointments

The early education and child care company promotes Chief Operations Officer, SVP of Franchise Development, and hires new director of construction.

By Chris LaMorte1851 Franchise Editor
SPONSORED 11:11AM 01/12/21

ISELIN - Lightbridge Academy, Innovators in Educational Child Care® announced the promotion of Joanne Sofia to the role of Chief Operations Officer and David Falzarano as Senior Vice President of Franchise Development. Additionally, the company announced it has hired seasoned industry veteran Terry Owens as its new Director of Construction. 

As Chief Operations Officer for Lightbridge Franchise Company, she will be overseeing operations for both company-owned and franchise centers, education and training, and human resources. She brings a compelling blend of experience in educational services with a track record of success in driving business growth.

“I am honored to be part of a team and company that truly embodies its core values,” said Sofia. “I am looking forward to continuing to support our franchise system, while increasing market presence and company growth and expansion into new markets.”

Sofia possesses over 20 years of experience in franchising. Prior to joining Lightbridge, she worked for Wilton Industries, a $150 million consumer products company, overseeing their educational program with a focus on the retail customer experience and quality. In the educational and franchise sector, she spent 12 years at Huntington Learning Centers overseeing operations for 33 company-owned centers and over 300 franchise centers.

“Joanne brings extensive franchise management skills and experience to the company, but most importantly, she shares our commitment to the Lightbridge Academy core values and importance of early childhood education,” said Lightbridge Academy President Gigi Schweikert. “Over the past four years, she has driven corporate and franchise centers to all-time-high levels of customer loyalty and business profitability.  Her character and leadership skills are a perfect fit for our high-care culture.”

The company also announced the promotion of David Falzarano to Senior Vice President of Franchise Development for Lightbridge Franchise Company.  In this role, Falzarano will drive growth by leading the corporate and franchise site selection process, along with lease negotiations for all new locations. A 20-year Lightbridge veteran, Falzarano’s experience will help expand the brand’s footprint as he leads the team in the construction and development of over 100 child care center locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions over the next five years.

“David brings a unique perspective as a founding family member of Lightbridge Academy. His passion for the brand and commitment to its success is unparalleled,” said Schweikert. “We look forward to leveraging the strengths and skills of our development team to fuel long-term growth of our corporate and franchise system.”

As a founding member of the franchise company, Falzarano has held numerous roles, working his way through center operations and into development, where he was instrumental in building the highly successful system of over 50 operational child care centers.

“I couldn’t be more excited to bring our cutting-edge brand to communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond,” said Falzarano. “Franchisees want more than just a real estate transaction. They know that identifying a prime location is an important key to long-term success, but developing the project to completion depends on us to guide them through our proven process.”

Lightbridge Academy is also pleased to announce the new hire of Terry Owens as Director of Construction. In Owens’ new position, he will manage franchise construction projects from early development through project completion. Owens will be responsible for overall construction coordination, working with architects, design and construction vendors, and franchisees throughout the process to ensure brand design standards are met. 

Owens possesses over 30 years of experience in franchise development and construction with companies such as Primrose Schools, Inspire Brands and McDonalds, holding various roles as a development manager, construction manager, and project manager. 

“We are consistently evaluating how to best contribute to the success of our franchisees,” said Falzarano. “Terry will be an integral part of our growth with his main focus on moving projects forward and utilizing his expertise to overcome obstacles and open centers better and faster.”

About Lightbridge Academy: 
Established in 1997, Guy and Julia Falzarano founded the company based on core values and a Circle of Care philosophy that places equal importance on the needs of children, their families, teachers, center owners and the community. Lightbridge Academy provides early education and child care to children ages six weeks through kindergarten, as well as special programming for children up to 10 years old for summer camp and a new school age remote learning program. The company franchised in 2011 to expand their distinctive concept throughout the Mid-Atlantic region; it currently has over 119 child care centers either open, under construction or in development throughout Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. In response to COVID-19, Lightbridge Academy rolled out the Lightbridge Promise, the gold standard in child care health protocols. In 2020, the company was featured on the Inc. 5000 ranking, Franchise Times Top 200+ awards, and Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500. Lightbridge Academy was also recognized on Newsweek’s 2021 list of America’s Best Customer Service.

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