Our Staff

We hire well qualified, experienced staff. We believe in making sure the staff here are happy so that the children get the best experience and turnover is low. All of our staff have CPR/Fist Aid/SIDS training as well as Criminal Background Checks.
Leah Hanlon-Owner
Bethesda, MD

Leah has owned her in home child care for over eleven years. She also co owns Lily Pads Early Learning Center in North Bethesda since 2017.  She has an MBA and a Bachelor's in Business Administration, as well as a degree in Early Childhood Education. She also is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College. She enjoys helping children go through the various stages of development as well as learn new experiences with our program.


"Owning a child care has been my dream job. I have always loved working with children and getting to make that my career is something I am forever grateful for. Watching them grow through the years is an unforgettable experience. I'm a strong believer in communication between staff, parents, and children as the core of our program."

Patricia Oholeguy has been involved in supervising, educating, and creating educational resources for over 20 years. 
Patricia was an Adjunct Early Childhood Education Instructor at Montgomery College, and worked as the Education Manager at a large childcare center in Annandale VA, overseeing more than 50 teachers serving over 200 children.  Patricia also worked at the CDA Council for Professional Recognition, helping to launch the CDA Gold Standard Certification aimed at identifying high quality agencies that provide the highest quality early childhood education training to prospective teachers and caregivers.   

Patricia has also worked in educational publishing, with such companies as National Geographic School Publishing, Robert-Leslie Publishing, And FrogStreet. She has also worked as a free-lance writer and editor for numerous other educational sites including, LDOnline, and  Colorin  Colorado.

Patricia holds an MBA and an MA in Special Education from California State University of Northridge.

Patricia Oholeguy-Part Time Regional Director

Hiroka Fukuhara-Teacher Fernwood Rd

Hiroka has a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology Sociology  and a degree in Early Childhood Education. Hiroka is Bilingual in Japanese and English. 


"I have worked at Lily Pads Child Care for almost four years. I also worked with multi-age groups in Japan for two years. I love how children are full of wonder. I enjoy playing and learning with them. I support them by understanding that they learn and develop at their own pace in their own way. I love watching them learn and grow!"

Rachel Manyak-Teacher Fernwood Rd

Before coming to Lily Pads, Rachel was a private nanny for 7 years.  She has worked with children from ages 3 months to 10+ years old. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.  Rachel is teacher qualified in Maryland and has taken multiple trainings.

"Childcare is something I have always been passionate about.  I love being able to watch the wheels in children's heads turn as they try something new and start to do things on their own.  I am fascinated by how quickly they develop and learn and am so grateful I get to watch that happen every single day working at Lily Pads."

Hanna Abraha-Teacher

Fernwood Rd

Catherine Reyes- Teacher Fernwood Rd

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Nazaree Moore-Ross Teacher Old Georgetown

Hanna earned her high school diploma at Paint Branch High School in 2015.She is attending undergrad at Montgomery College majoring in Early Childhood  Education. She is highly qualified in all ages of child care.She earned her Maryland Child Care Certification Level 3 award in 2019.

"I’ve developed a simple teaching philosophy that drives my engagement with my students: students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. As I continue to develop professionally, I’m motivated to continue implementing this motto  at Lily Pads by forming sincere and nurturing relationships with my students, parents, co-staff, and leadership and helping my students to navigate their dreams to become limitless and valuable assets in their communities. "

Nazaree is currently working towards her degree in Early Childhood Education. She has already taken multiple classes related to the field and is teacher qualified. 

"I've always loved being around children. Watching them grow and become their own unique person is an amazing experience. Working with children is something I love to do. They can make such a big impact on a person". 

Catherine has been working with children for years and has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She has taken multiple classes related to early childhood education and is teacher qualified. 

"I’ve always had a passion for working with children. Watching them develop intellectually and emotionally really fascinates me. I enjoy playing with them and watching them grow and learn new things everyday."

Brenda Gardner-Smith Teacher
Old Georgetown Rd.

Brenda has been working in the Bethesda location since it opened back in Jan. 2010. She has over fifteen years experience as a nanny and has taken courses in Medication Administration and other early childhood education related classes. 

"I enjoy being able to watch children grow and share in their development while meeting their needs. Most of all, I love helping them feel happy. Their smiles bring a huge smile to my face."

Cynthia Shontan-Teacher Old Georgetown Rd.
Gelala Hiruy-Teacher 
Old Georgetown Rd. 

Cynthia has been working with children for over three years. She has a Bachelor's in computer science,  a Masters in Logistics and Supply chain management, and a Masters in Religious Studies. She is teacher qualified with multiple courses in early childhood education.

"I enjoy providing care to every child because in my years of experience I have observed that children are exceptionally wired to learn through repetition, imitating, curiosity, and exploring their surroundings. This is why I make sure to give them my best and the feedback I get from them shows they are having a good experience.". 

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