Jo Kirchner
Jo Kirchner
CEO

Jo Kirchner has devoted the majority of her career to pioneering breakthrough strategies for delivering high-quality early education and care. As CEO of Primrose Schools® since 1999, she has led strategic growth of the company from four locations in Georgia to a national brand recognized as an industry leader and innovator.

Jo joined Primrose in 1990 as Vice President and was instrumental in creating and expanding the franchise model that now includes over 500 independently owned and operated schools coast-to-coast.

Today, Jo continues to shape strategic direction for the rapidly expanding franchise company while also providing leadership on the Primrose Schools Board of Directors and the Primrose Early Learning Council. Outside the company, her national advocacy work includes serving on the board as co-chair for the Early Care & Education Consortium, a trustee for Cognia and the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board, and she engages in initiatives internationally to advance early education and child care. In 2017, Jo received the International Franchise Associations Bonnie LeVine Award in recognition of her commitment to the mentorship of women.

Jo founded the Primrose Schools Children’s Foundation and launched the Primrose Promise℠ corporate social responsibility program, which helps the Primrose organization fulfill its mission to forge a path that leads to a brighter future for all children.

Steve Clemente
Steve Clemente
President

Steve Clemente joined Primrose as President in May 2016. In his role, he leads internal operations for Primrose School Franchising Company and partners with CEO Jo Kirchner on strategic growth initiatives.

Steve’s entire career has been focused on providing senior leadership and management in multi-unit businesses. Prior to joining the Primrose Schools executive team, Steve served as President of Field & Stream, a subsidiary of Dick’s Sporting Goods. Before that, he spent five years at the Nebraska Book Company, rising from Sr. Vice President in charge of operations to President and CEO.

He began his career as an Executive in Training at Target Stores and enjoyed a 15-year trajectory there, culminating as a Group Vice President in charge of $3.3 billion in operations. He was widely recognized for mentoring high-performance executives, and his team led the company in customer service and financial profitability.

Steve holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Webster University.

Kristin Goran
Kristin Goran
Chief Legal Officer

Kristin Goran joined Primrose Schools as Chief Legal Officer in April 2018.  In this role, she leads the legal and franchise administration functions and advises the company on a broad range of legal and strategic issues to help strengthen and grow the brand.  Prior to joining Primrose, she served as Vice President, Legal at Focus Brands (now GoTo Foods), the parent company of seven foodservice franchisors.

In private practice Kristin specialized in intellectual property law, focusing primarily on pharmaceutical and medical device patent issues.  She received her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, and her Juris Doctor from Emory University.

Kristin is passionate about supporting non-profit causes, both inside and outside of Primrose.  She provides legal support to the Primrose Schools Children’s Foundation.  Also, she currently serves on the board of Goodwill Industries International, which supports a network of more than 150 local Goodwill organizations that provide programs for people who face barriers in their employment. She previously served on the board of Camp Kudzu, a nonprofit that provides camp programs to children and teens with Type 1 diabetes throughout Georgia, for six years.

Rob Gray
Rob Gray
Chief Accounting Officer

Rob Gray joined Primrose in 2018 and currently serves as the Chief Accounting Officer. He is an experienced CPA with strong leadership attributes, progressive management experience, global business exposure, project management expertise and invaluable Franchising, Fortune 50 and Big 4 audit experience across various industries.

He has a proven ability to deliver high quality results, professionally develop teams and execute within complex and fast-paced business environments.

Rob holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Georgia State University.

Josh Greear
Josh Greear
Chief Financial Officer

Josh Greear joined Primrose as CFO in February 2018. In his role, he leads Finance, Analytics, Accounting, and Business Services for Primrose School Franchising Company.

Prior to joining the Primrose Schools executive team, Josh served as Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. where his responsibilities included leading the Off-Premise Business, Strategic Planning, Real Estate, and finding acquisitions and new business ventures.  Before that, he was with The Home Depot/HD Supply where he held various financial leadership roles and graduated from their Internal Audit Leadership Development Program.

Josh holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Vanderbilt University.

Annette C. Heng
Annette C. Heng
Chief School Excellence Officer

Annette Heng joined Primrose in September 2016 and leads strategic efforts to foster a brand-driven, high-performance environment for Primrose School Franchising Company and the Primrose schools system. She has worked in education for more than 30 years, having previously served as a regional vice president for Aramark Education, among other roles for the company. Heng holds a bachelor’s degree from National Louis University and a master’s degree in education from Erikson Institute and Loyola University, and currently pursuing her Doctorate in Strategic Leadership. She and her School Excellence team are responsible for building trusted relationship while providing on-going support for all Franchise Owners and schools across the system. This support incudes quality assurance, compliance, school training and development, new and mature school performance and communications.

Amy Jackson, PhD
Amy Jackson, PhD
Chief Early Learning Strategy Officer

Dr. Amy Jackson is an experienced business leader and educator who has dedicated her career to ensuring children have access to high-quality early learning experiences and care. As chief early learning strategy officer, she will expand strategic partnerships to facilitate thought leadership and advocacy to support efforts that support access to high quality early learning and care for all children.

In this role, Jackson will provide strategic leadership, research and continuous improvement for the brand’s proprietary Balanced Learning® curriculum. She will also expand strategic partnerships for research-based innovation to strengthen the exclusive, time-tested Balanced Learning curriculum, created from the best early education wisdom to help children build the foundation they need for learning and life.

Nick Koros
Nick Koros
Chief Development Officer

Nick Koros joined Primrose as chief development officer in March 2023. In this role, he leads the overall growth and development strategy for Primrose School Franchising Company to ensure even more children have access to high quality education and care.

Nick has extensive experience helping industry-leading brands strengthen their presence in competitive markets through multi-unit real estate projects and aligning the objectives of franchise owners, real estate partners and other key stakeholders. Trained in working across multiple disciplines to reach common goals, his career is built on producing innovative growth strategies on both a national and global scale.

Koros is well qualified as he holds a Juris Doctor as well as a Master of Business Administration and received his bachelor’s in economics and sociology from UCLA. He has also obtained a master business strategy certification from Cornell and is LEED Design accredited by the US Green Building Council.

Avery Ma
Avery Ma
Chief Technology Officer

Avery Ma is a leader in the Technology space with a background in eCommerce and Software Development in the college retail, apparel, and workwear industries in Nebraska, Chicago, and Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln (Go Big Red!) and lives with his family in the greater Atlanta area.

Tim Roush
Tim Roush
Chief Marketing Officer

Tim Roush joined Primrose Schools as Chief Marketing Officer in January 2020. In this role, he leads strategic efforts to actively protect and promote Primrose premium brand leadership position and grow brand loyalty and advocacy Primrose School Franchising Company and Primrose schools nationwide.

Tim has spent nearly forty years within the marketing sector, having previously served as Chief Marketing Officer for 1-800 CONTACTS, and also previously held marketing positions with Sara Lee, General Motors, Novartis, and Proctor & Gamble. His extensive background in brand strategy, consumer insight analytics, and integrated marketing development makes him the ideal leader to utilize key marketing strategies to drive accelerated growth for the organization.

Tim has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Literature from Brigham Young University and an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Penn State University. He is passionate about helping provide quality education to all children through the Primrose Schools Children’s Foundation.

Shelvia Ivey, MA
Shelvia Ivey, MA
Senior Director, Education Consulting

Shelvia has over 14 years of experience in Early Childhood Education. She earned her BA from Columbus State University and her MA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her Primrose journey began in 2010 as a Pre-Kindergarten Teacher at the Primrose School of Smyrna West. Shelvia joined the Primrose Support Center Team in 2015 as an Education Consultant and is currently the Sr. Director of the Education Consulting Team. Shelvia lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her niece, Amaya, and her dog, Ali.

April Poindexter, PhD
April Poindexter, PhD
Director, Curriculum and Assessment

Dr. April Poindexter leads the Curriculum and Assessment Team for the Primrose Education Department. Her passion for education and supporting schools led her to Primrose in 2017. She holds a PhD in Language and Literacy Education with a concentration in Teaching and Learning and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Her research interests include writing practices and pedagogy, children’s literature and social justice education. She is committed to equity education research that addresses inclusive and culturally responsive practices in the classroom. Prior to joining Primrose, Dr. Poindexter enjoyed 10 years as an elementary teacher and two years as an Instructional Support Specialist. During that time, she was trained in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program and earned a Gifted Education endorsement. Dr. Poindexter lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her two daughters.

Laura Jana, MD
Laura Jana, MD
Early Learning Council

Dr. Jana is a pediatrician and award-winning author of more than 30 children and parenting books. Currently on faculty at Penn State University’s Prevention Research Center, she has over 20 years of experience working with parents, educators, media, academia, government organizations, nonprofits and corporations alike. From early literacy advocate and nine-year owner of a Primrose school to advisor to the world’s largest toy company and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Jana is a social entrepreneur dedicated to addressing the most pressing needs of children, families and communities. She has given three TED talks and over 100 talks and keynotes to audiences as far-reaching as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the World Bank and the British Parliament. In addition to serving on the Early Learning Council, Dr. Jana co-authored the Primrose Wonder and Venture children’s book series, advises on health and nutrition and serves as strategic consultant to the CEO.

Kathy Trundle, PhD
Kathy Trundle, PhD
Early Learning Council

Dr. Kathy Cabe Trundle served as the lead author of the next generation of Balanced Learning, and her leadership in science education spans 40 years. Before joining the faculty at Utah State, she served as the Department Head of STEM Education at NC State (5 years) and as a Professor in Early Childhood Science Education at Ohio State University (13 years). Dr. Trundle has more than 200 publications, including research articles and books that focus on early childhood science, and she is an author with National Geographic Learning. Her research includes the integration of art into STEM learning (STEAM), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding allows her to explore garden-based learning, biodiversity and sustainability with children and their teachers.

Douglas Bell, PhD
Douglas Bell, PhD
Early Learning Council

Dr. Douglas Bell has expertise in early childhood curriculum, early literacy, early social-emotional development and working with young dual-language learners. He has published and presented on local, state, national and international levels.

Carol Donovan, PhD
Carol Donovan, PhD
Early Learning Council

Dr. Carol Donovan received her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in Multicultural Teacher and Child Education with an emphasis in reading and writing. Her research interests include children’s and teachers’ selections and uses of books for science, children’s genre knowledge development, and children’s writing development.

Gloria Julius, EdD
Gloria Julius, EdD
Early Learning Council

Dr. Gloria Julius is a strategic consultant advising on research and development of early childhood curriculum and instructional programming. Prior to consulting, Dr. Julius served as Chief Academic Officer for Primrose Schools, overseeing the research, development, evaluation and continuous improvement of the Primrose Balanced Learning curriculum. She also served as a company spokesperson and author on early learning and child development. Prior to joining Primrose, Dr. Julius served as the Chief Learning Officer for Calvert Education Services, a 115-year-old home schooling and virtual learning provider.

Jennifer Sutton McDonel, PhD
Jennifer Sutton McDonel, PhD
Early Learning Council

Dr. Jennifer S. McDonel is co-author of the Harmony & Heart® music program for Primrose Schools. She has over three decades of teaching and mentoring experience with students from birth to adulthood and is a recipient of the Donald N. Dedmon Distinguished Teaching Professor Award at Radford University. She mentors undergraduate students in research both locally and abroad in Nepal. Also a composer, her band works are published through Boosey & Hawkes, and her early childhood compositions and activities are featured in music teaching resources as well as in the ZERO TO THREE “Problem Solvers” early childhood mathematics curriculum. Her album, Little Beats: Counting, Shapes, and Sets is available on all streaming services and received GRAMMY Award consideration.

Rebecca Parlakian, MA, Ed.
Rebecca Parlakian, MA, Ed.
Early Learning Council

Rebecca Parlakian serves as Senior Director of Programs at ZERO TO THREE where she directs a portfolio of projects related to child development, parenting, early learning, social-emotional skills and high-quality teaching and caregiving. In her role, Rebecca has co-authored five parenting and professional curricula and developed resources for teachers, home visitors and parents. Rebecca’s written work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the peer-reviewed Young Children, and she has been quoted by media outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post. She holds a master’s degree in infant/toddler special education from the George Washington University where she currently teaches as an adjunct professor.

Scott McConnell, PhD
Scott McConnell, PhD
Early Learning Council

Dr. Scott McConnell has been a teacher, program director, researcher and college professor interested in preschool and early elementary education for more than 40 years. Scott is a professor emeritus of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota and an advisor in early education for Renaissance Learning. Prior to joining Renaissance, Scott was part of a multi-university team that developed Individual Growth and Development Indicators and he has conducted research on their use in preschool classrooms. His professional interests focus on young children’s paths to becoming proficient readers and the ways that systematic interventions like multi-tiered systems of support can help all children achieve that goal. Scott lives in Minnesota, and he and his wife, Laurie Davis,
are parents of four adult children.