Meet the Growing Room Leadership

Franchise Owner

Laura Smith
Franchise Owner and CEO of Growing Room of Auburn and Growing Room Opelika

Laura grew up in Columbus, GA where she graduated Cum Laude from Columbus State University with a BBA in 1991, an MBA in 1995, and ultimately obtaining her Professional of Human Resource Certification in 1999. Her early career was focused in Human Resources and Business Management, in which she held various management positions. In 1999, her desire to significantly impact the lives of children and families led her to join Growing Room, Inc. in Columbus, GA as the Senior VP of Business Affairs. This executive position allowed her to gain experience in almost every aspect of the Growing Room organization.

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She and her husband, Mark, were able to experience Growing Room in a new way after the birth of her daughter in 2001, as parents. Now more than ever, they understood how important quality child care was to working parents. They saw firsthand how their daughter flourished at Growing Room and how well-prepared she was going to be for Kindergarten.

After Growing Room, Inc. was recognized as the 2004 “National Small Business of the Year”, Laura began developing and forming the Growing Room Franchise System with the Growing Room founder, Sheree Mitchell. As the franchise model took shape, she had the idea that would lead to her to becoming a franchisee herself. Since Laura previously worked in Auburn/Opelika, she and Mark knew there was a need for quality childcare in the area. Thus they decided to give the children of Auburn the Growing Room experience and opened the first Growing Room franchise there in January 2008!

Since its inception, Growing Room Auburn has received praise, recognition and compliments from parents and the community alike. Laura and Mark’s passion about Growing Room and the lifelong impact that the center has on children’s lives has led to the opening of a second location: Growing Room of Opelika.

Area Director

Hollie Autrey
Area Director of Growing Room of Auburn and Growing Room Opelika

An Auburn native, Hollie has laid roots with Growing Room Auburn as an integral part of the franchise’s success. She began her career with Growing Room Auburn when they opened their doors in 2008, but she discovered her passion for children early on, while involved with the AmeriCorps program. She is a true example of how Growing Room promotes from within: she started as a Lead Teacher, was soon promoted to Assistant Director, and finally to Senior Director in only a year’s time. With the opening of a second location in Opelika coming in 2018, she is now our Area Director.

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Hollie acquired her expertise in child development through a conduit of studying and research, as well as attending early childhood education classes and conferences. Her most valuable instrument, however, is her experience. She built her management style upon the importance of communication and partnership, and this can be seen through her deep connections with the families of Growing Room Auburn. Hollie believes children learn best through engagement in positive, loving and consistent environments with a well-trained staff, and that parents should feel comfortable going to work each day with their children in great hands. This, coupled with the belief that all children deserve a quality, exciting environment to learn in, is conducive to creating equal opportunities for every child to grow up to be a positive member of the community.

Aside from Growing Room, Hollie enjoys being involved in the community. She has participated in Junior League of Lee County and Dancing Stars of East Alabama (which benefits the Child Advocacy Center). She also actively encourages children of Growing Room to volunteer with a variety of community resources, such as the humane society, food banks, and nursing homes.  Hollie and her husband, Will, enjoy spending time with their two teenage children and their dogs, and cheering on the Auburn Tigers.

Growing Room of Auburn’s Leadership Team

Consuela Guice
Senior Director of Growing Room Auburn

Consuela is originally from Phenix City, Alabama, but moved to Auburn to attend Auburn University; she is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences (Pre-Med). This is where she met her husband D’Wayne and Auburn quickly became their home. They are the proud parents of four children, Christian, Trinity, D’Wayne Jr., and Ethan.

Megan Renfroe
Assistant Director of Growing Room Auburn

Growing Room of Opelika’s Leadership Team

LaToya Cumins Watson
Director of Growing Room Opelika

LaToya joined the Growing Room Auburn/Opelika family in 2012 as a Lead Teacher.  She is another example of our philosophy of promoting from within our organization. With the opening of the Opelika location in 2018, she moved into the position of Mentor and was soon promoted to Supervisor.  LaToya was once again promoted to Assistant Director in 2020 and to Director in October 2021

Lori Freeman
Assistant Director of Growing Room Opelika.

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