Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009
Road to Palm Springs
Le Chaperon Rouge Co. Inc.
Stella Moga-Kennedy battled the Communist government in Romania for five years to obtain a passport that would allow her to flee to the US in 1979. She and her husband faced nearly daily harassment by the secret police after their intentions became known, and when they finally were given permission to leave, all their possessions were seized by the state.
Today, the woman who spoke no English and had no money when she arrived in the US with her husband and daughter is president and owner of Le Chaperon Rouge Co., a thriving regional chain of eight daycare centers and private elementary schools in northeast Ohio that has received accolades from parents and educators.
Moga-Kennedy was inspired to start her own preschool after the birth of her second child, when she was appalled at the care provided for her son at the daycare center she had placed him in so that she could keep her job. Armed with the master’s degree in education that she had earned in Romania, she opened a preschool in a church basement in 1982 with just $1,800. Within nine months, enrollment had climbed from only three to 89 children as demand for her service skyrocketed.
Founded on the principle of providing a caring environment, nutrition and learning opportunities, Le Chaperon Rouge Co. now has more than 1,000 children enrolled in programs serving infants through fifth graders.