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2019 EMPOWERMENT DAY

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SPEAKERS & INDUSTRY EXPERT MENTORS

WIT Empowerment Day Co-Chairs

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WIT EMPOWERMENT CO-CHAIR

Deb de Sherbinin — Founder & CEO, Kidsmart

Deb de Sherbinin, founder and CEO KidSmart, loves to help companies and entrepreneurs successfully launch new products. Deb brings over 25 years of experience building world-class brands and growing startups in toys, games, robotics, and entertainment products. Her clients have included well-known large toy companies as well as startups seeking to get to the next level at retail with new product and marketing strategies. She has contributed her expertise to the missions of many organizations including Women in Toys, Licensing and Entertainment, where she serves on the Board of Directors and as Empowerment Co-Chair.

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WIT EMPOWERMENT CO-CHAIR

Nancy Zwiers — Retired Toy Industry Veteran

A classically trained brand-builder at Procter & Gamble, Zwiers joined the toy industry in 1990 with Mattel, where she held a number of progressively senior positions. Nancy takes child's play seriously. As founder and CEO of the consulting firm Funosophy Inc., Zwiers spent over 16 years helping more than 200 clients—from industry leaders to start-ups in toys, youth entertainment and interactive games—build and expand their brands. She has been a strategic thought-partner and facilitator for many industry executives and has helped in strategy development for many successful franchises. Nancy has conducted extensive research on kids and play and has led multiple invention teams to licensing success. She serves on the Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Board of Directors and as Empowerment Co-Chair. Most recently, Nancy held the position of EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Spin Master.

Speakers & Mentors

More Speakers and Mentors will be announced soon.
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WALMART

Anne Marie Kehoe — VP Toys, Walmart

With 35 years of General Merchandise experience in retail, Anne Marie has led Walmart’s Toy Team since 2010 as VP of Toys. Her career there began in 2003 as a Merchandise Manager for Paper Goods, and in 2004 she was appointed VP and Divisional Merchandise Manager Intimate Apparel. In 2007, Anne Marie was promoted to General Merchandise Manager for Shoes/Jewelry and Accessories. She has also served as VP, Category Planning, Apparel. Ann Marie is very active inside Walmart in the Global Women’s Initiative and Made in the USA. She is a member of the United States Naval Reserves, having served two years active duty and seven years active reserves. Anne Marie has a BA in finance from the University of Wisconsin.

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KEYNOTE SPEAKER

TBA

BIO COMING SOON

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MARKET RESEARCH - SPEAKER / MENTOR

Amanda Gummer — MD & Founder, Fundamentally Children

Dr Amanda Gummer has over 20 years experience working with children and families. Widely considered the UK’s go-to expert on play, toys and child development, she combines her theoretical knowledge with a refreshingly pragmatic approach to family life. Her book ‘Play’ was published in May 2105 and has been translated into two different languages with extracts being published in the USA’s Toy Industry Association’s Genius of Play initiative, for which she is an ‘expert ambassador’. Amanda is regularly in the media, continues to take an active role in research, and is often involved in government policy around children’s issues.

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U.S. Small Business Assocation (SBA) / MENTOR

Bridget moon, Economic Development Specialist and Veterans Business Development Officer

Bridget Moon’s currently serves as an Economic Development Specialist and Veteran Business Development Officer with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Dallas/Fort Worth District Office.  Her office serves 72 counties in North Texas.  Her leadership has been able to directly impact thousands of people by dedicating over 25 years of helping others in their entrepreneurship endeavors and recover from natural disasters.

She has held supervisory positions in business and home underwriting, disaster operations, and has been public information officer for SBA Disaster Assistance.    Aiding in her knowledge, she has been an entrepreneur since 18 and graduated college in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.  She is bound to have tools that you can put into action and believes her mission is to help others succeed in business.

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SALES & DISTRIBUTION - MENTOR

Chris Troyak — President, TTMI Solutions

Chris Troyak is a 20yr veteran in the toy industry having been a corporate sales executive, president, executive management consultant, manufacturer’s rep, and global entrepreneur. He has a proven track record of building global business’ and leading teams across a wide range of companies and toy categories. This includes tenures with Spin Master, Goliath Games, Itoys, Diverse Marketing, Innovation First, Tech4Kids, MJ Holdings and others.  Currently based in Dallas TX, Chris is the owner of TTMI Solutions, a sales management company that focuses on co-designing and delivering growth strategies for placement in the mass market. Throughout his career he has been a builder and problem solver, continuing to achieve a number of highly successfully multi-million-dollar product programs at the largest retailers in the world.

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LICENSING, DEALS & NEGOTIATIONS - MENTOR

Elizabeth Moody - Head of New Business Development, 7 Towns

As a professional child development specialist Elizabeth graduated with a BA from Newman University and an MA from Nottingham University. Having worked in several child care provisions and studying play therapy, Elizabeth has a true passion for the value and meaning of the play experience. Growing up in the toy & game industry, Elizabeth spent her childhood around toy executives and always loved this exciting industry. In 2012 Elizabeth joined Seven Towns as a Licensing Executive, working alongside the creative & commercial teams. Promoted in 2017 to the role of Head of Business Development Elizabeth now spearheads Sales, Licensing negotiations and plays a key role in the strategic development of the business. In 2018 Elizabeth graduated with an MBA from Birmingham University.

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PR & PARTNERSHIPS - MENTOR

Genna Rosenberg — CEO, GennComm

Genna Rosenberg has been a trusted toy industry storyteller for many of toys most beloved brands for over 20 years. She is an innovator and CEO of GennComm, a global marketing communications agency, focused on the business of play. She recently launched ImaGENNation, a Think Tank developing GennComm’s and clients’ entertainment and consumer product IP, through high-level brand franchise planning and execution. Rosenberg licensed ImaGENNation’s first in-house innovation to Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company, which was selected as Learning Express’s 2018 Toy of the Year in Plush. Her agency connects ideas with giants across licensing, public relations, retail and business development, content development and more, always keeping an eye on trends, empowerment and social responsibility.

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PRODUCT COSTING & MARGINS - SPEAKER

Jay Foreman — President & CEO, Basic Fun!

Jay Foreman is CEO and President of Basic Fun! He is an accomplished toy industry veteran with 30+ years’ experience. Foreman founded The Bridge Direct, which produced and distributed a variety of popular toy lines, including Strawberry Shortcake, Mini Arcade Games, Fisher-Price Classics and Lite Brite, and entertainment licenses including Justin Bieber dolls and The Hobbit action figures. In 2017, he merged The Bridge Direct with Tech4Kids to form Basic Fun!, and has since acquired brands including K’NEX, Playhut and Uncle Milton, to name a few. Prior to that, Foreman founded Play Along, Inc., which he sold to JAKKS Pacific in 2004. He is a pioneer in the pop music merchandise and retro brands categories with multi-million dollar product applications including the The Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Hannah Montana dolls and toys, Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids. Foreman served on the board of directors for The Toy Association and LIMA (now Licensing International), and currently chairs The Toy Association’s trade show committee.

John Lee

PRODUCT COSTING & MARGINS - MENTOR

John Lee — Co-Founder & General Partner, Bambini Partners LLC

John is Co-Founder and General Partner of Bambini Partners, LLC, a strategic advisory firm focused on companies in the toy, infant/ juvenile, family and pet consumer products industries. Prior to forming Bambini Partners, he was CEO of Callaway Arts & Entertainment, a publishing and IP development enterprise. John is the former President of Learning Curve International, which he founded in 1993. Regarded as a leader in the educational and developmental toy industry, he has authored numerous trade articles on brand management, product innovation and merchandising. John is the recipient of the 2004 Playthings Industry Achievement Award for Brand Builder for the Thomas the Tank Engine train brand, and the 2005 ASTRA Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served on numerous industry association boards including the TA, ASTRA and NRF. John received his B.A. degree in Industrial / Consumer Psychology.

Jerry Welch

PRODUCT COSTING & MARGINS - MENTOR

Jerry Welch — Co-Founder & General Partner, Bambini Partners LLC

Jerry is Co-Founder and General Partner of Bambini Partners, LLC, a strategic advisory firm focused on companies in the toy, infant/ juvenile, family and pet consumer products industries. Before founding Bambini Partners, he was the CEO of nFinanSe Inc.From 1996 to 2005, Jerry was the CEO of FAO Schwarz and its predecessor companies, during which time he combined The Right Start, Zany Brainy and FAO to form a retail holding company with over 300 stores and $700 million in sales. From 1993 until 2001, he was also a Managing Director and Partner in Kayne Anderson Investment Management, a large Los Angeles-based private equity firm. Jerry is very experienced in the public capital markets, having been CEO of five public companies and taken two companies public over his 40-year career. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in Business Administration and a Major in Finance.

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KICKSTARTER - MENTOR

Julie Kerwin — Chief Elemental Officer, IAmElemental

Julie Kerwin is Chief Elemental Officer at IAmElemental, a privately held toy company creating the first-ever female action figures designed specifically for girls (and boys!). The company’s strong, healthy female figures invite kids to develop their character by playing with “Elements of Power.” IAmElemental launched Series 1/Courage via Kickstarter, and was named by TIME Magazine as one of the “25 Best Inventions of 2014” and “Top 10 Toys of 2014.” The company was named a 2017 and 2018 Toy of the Year finalist by the Toy Association. The company recently announced a partnership with The Jim Henson Company to develop an animated children’s television series based on its toys.

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DIGITAL ADS & CONTENT - MENTOR

Kate O'Loughlin - COO North America, SuperAwesome

Kate is COO of North America, for SuperAwesome, the company leading the charge to make the internet safer for kids. Kate leads SuperAwesome’s regional growth, strategy and execution. With her engineering education, contributions to growing the digital advertising and marketing technology ecosystem, and from raising two kids, Kate is using her professional and personal experiences to build kidtech. Previously, Kate was employee number three at Tapad (acquired by Telenor, $360M) and lead the company’s digital advertising business as SVP and General Manager. Before Tapad, Kate was Product Director at MediaMath and a Lockheed Martin Senior Systems Engineer.

Keri Wilmot

SOCIAL MEDIA - MENTOR

Keri Wilmot — Content Development Manager, ToyQueen.Com

Keri Wilmot is a toy expert, parent and pediatric occupational therapist, with more than 18 years of experience working with children with special needs. Since 2009, Keri has been creating toy reviews and sharing playful content on ToyQueen.com, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Keri also serves as an expert contributor to the Toy Industry Association’s Genius of Play initiative.

Kimberly Mosley

TRADE ASSOCIATION - AMERICAN SPECIALTY TOY RETAILING ASSOCIATION - MENTOR

Kimberly Mosley — President, ASTRA

Kimberly Mosley, CAE, CPE is the President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Founded in 1992, ASTRA is a trade organization that supports a membership of independent retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives inspired to change the world through the power of play. Kim has been a leader in the association industry for more than 20 years. She is also a Certified Play Expert - a certification that recognizes the important role of play on healthy brain development. Kim holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Governors State University and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago, IL.

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TRADE ASSOCIATION - THE TOY ASSOCIATION - MENTOR

Kimberly Carcone - Vice President Market Events

BIO COMING SOON

TRADE ASSOCIATION - THE TOY ASSOCIATION - MENTOR

Marian Bossard — EVP of Global Market Events, The Toy Association

BIO COMING SOON

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PRODUCT & PACKAGING DESIGN - MENTOR

Maureen McHale — President & COO, McHale Design, Inc,

A real life “Wonder Woman,” Maureen McHale has successfully grown McHale Design, Inc. from a one-woman, home-based, graphic design start-up into the most sought-after branding firm in the toy and licensing industries. Celebrating 33-1/3 years, McHale Design employs 10 full-time designers to develop Brand and Package Design, Style Guides, and Design for Web and Apps for top-tier clients including Walmart, Moose Toys, Mattel, Playmates Toys, and Spin Master. Maureen’s layout for success includes cultivating deep client relationships, over-delivering on creativity, and keeping one step ahead of the latest technology trends. An official Wonder Woman in Toys, her creativity and commitment earned her the Women in Toys Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2009. Most recently, McHale Design has been twice awarded the American Package Design Award from Graphic Design USA and the highest level Platinum Muse Creative Award. The mother of three grown children, Maureen lives and works in Long Beach, California.

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TRADE ASSOCIATION - THE TOY ASSOCIATION - MENTOR

Stacy Liebensohn - Account Executive, The Toy Association

BIO COMING SOON

Sue Warfield

TRADE ASSOCIATION - AMERICAN SPECIALTY TOY RETAILING ASSOCIATION - MENTOR

Sue Warfield — Director of Member Relations, ASTRA

Sue Warfield has been in both the Retail and Toy Business for over 30 years. She worked for 2 major, independently owned, retail chains based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and worked through the ranks to include store management, training, buying, and ultimately, director of retail operations. In 1990 she started her own retail consulting firm, Retail Specialties, and worked with clients around the US, developing training programs and working to improve their day to day operations. She entered the world of toy representation in 1995 and retail store ownership in 1999 when she and her husband opened a northwoods furnishings and décor store. She joined ASTRA in 2000 and has been an active member ever since, serving on the Board for 7 years, including chair. Her most recent work contributions have been with Hotaling Imports, a long term ASTRA Member, and serving as chair of the ASTRA Membership Committee

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E-Commerce

TBA

Toy Companies — Inventor Relations / Product Acquisition

Adam Hocherman

Adam Hocherman — VP, New Business Development, PlayMonster

Adam brings a diverse mix of product development expertise, manufacturing experience and business acumen to PlayMonster. He has a degree in mechanical engineering as well as an MBA, both from Cornell University. In his career, Adam has personally designed, developed and brought to market dozens of consumer products ranging from electronics to educational S.T.E.M. toys. Prior to joining PlayMonster Adam bootstrapped, grew, and sold two prior toy companies. In his current role as VP, New Business, Adam plays a critical role identifying new product licensing and/or acquisition opportunities which fulfill the required combination of identified need, market opportunity, economic feasibility and creative quality. These opportunities form the present and future product lines that drive growth at the company while maintaining PlayMonster’s mission to provide the highest-quality play experience for its customers.

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Alan Gong — VP Of Product Development, Basic Fun!

Gained degree in Graphic Design and held positions in ‘below the line’ agencies until the opportunity to join Kenner Parker Europe, my first step into Toys and Games.

I’ve spent almost 3 decades in various creative positions in the Industry, including Director of Creative Services for Hasbro Europe, VP of Hasbro Europe’s Design Center and then transferred to the East Coast of the US as the SVP of Product Design for Hasbro’s Global Games Division. For 3 years I held the position of VP of Design and Global Business Leader for Spin Masters games division based in Los Angeles. After leaving California I’ve taken the position as VP Product Development for Basic Fun a fast-growing Toy company based in Boca Raton Florida. I’m known as the ‘Toy Boy’ in the family.

Having had such a long career in toys and games I consider “Play is a Human Need” and that social gaming and play are great ways to bond with family and friends, to create platforms for discussion and of course, to make life time memories! …whether you WIN or LOSE!

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Ashley Mady — Head Of Brand Development, Basic Fun! President – Women In Toys, Licensing & Entertainment

Ashley has been recognized as a creative hybrid who blends innovation with business. In her current position as Head of Brand Development at Basic Fun!, she leads the conceptualization of the company’s new sustainable brands portfolio, oversees the company’s digital and social media initiatives, and works collaboratively with internal teams on growth plans that drive innovation for new and existing brands.

Prior to joining Basic Fun!, Ashley founded and helmed the brand licensing and creative agency, Brandberry. There she spent close to a decade launching new IP from the ground up, and reinvigorated established brands.

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David Winter — Director, Inventor Relations, Spin Master

As an avid lover of recess and clocking in hundreds of hours of play, David has cultivated a keen sense of fun that has given him the edge into picking product that will delight and excite kids like himself. Part of Spin Master’s Inventor Relations team for almost 10 years, David is on the hunt looking for the next big product hit from inventors around the world.

Headshot Coming Soon

Deniece Nunez — Hasbro

BIO COMING SOON

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Karen Kilpatrick — Vice President Of Marketing, Jazwares

Karen Kilpatrick is Vice President of Marketing for Jazwares in addition to heading Jazwares’ innovative online platform, Jazwings, which provides creators and innovators an unparalleled opportunity to launch new brands. She is the creator, along with her two daughters, of one of the Jazwings brands – MeBears. Karen is also the author of Pumpkinheads, an award-winning children’s book series, and has authored several short stories for adults. Previously, Karen founded, built and sold several online businesses in the legal services industry. In 2017, Karen was awarded the Rising Star by Women In Toys, Licensing & Entertainment. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and the NYU School of Law. Karen currently resides in Florida with her three children.

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Laura Zebersky — Chief Commercial Officer, Jazwares

Laura oversees Jazwares’ global licensing, marketing, and sales efforts. Under her leadership, Jazwares has successfully launched wildly popular brands such as Peppa Pig, Roblox, and Fiesty Pets. She has been instrumental in developing Jazwares’ European presence and works closely with retailers and licensors around the globe to build Jazwares’ North American and international business. Laura plays a key role in identifying trends and developing global product, marketing, and launch strategy. After obtaining her undergraduate degree from the American University, Laura went on to pursue her Juris Doctor at the University of Miami where she met her future husband and founder of Jazwares, Judd Zebersky. Following a successful run as a trial attorney, she joined Judd at Jazwares in 2006. Laura is the proud mom to three beautiful children, and is an active part of her community as co-founder of ‘Jazwares Cares,’ which is dedicated to supporting the education and development of children in need.

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Lisa Wuennemann — Associate Vice President, PlayMonster

Lisa loves promoting play. As PlayMonster’s Master Marketing Monster, she has spent 25 years making a career of playing with toys to help develop and market the best games and toys for children, families and adults. Lisa has been with PlayMonster for 18 years, where she delivered fun to brands such as McDonald’s, Arby’s, Musselman’s Applesauce, KOA Kampgrounds, KidzBop, Six Flags and Princess Cruises. She manages PlayMonster’s radio, digital, TV advertising and influencer marketing, launching top brands like Yeti in My Spaghetti, Wonder Crew, Automoblox and My Fairy Garden, and bringing play to guest celebrities on The Ellen Degeneres Show with party games 5 Second Rule and The Game of THINGS. Lisa also manages new product development, brand development and innovation research. Lisa’s hard work, dedication, and playful spirit have made her a respected leader and friend in the toy industry.

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Michael Rinzler — Co-President/Founding Partner, Wicked Cool Toys

Michael Rinzler is the Founding Partner and Co-President of Wicked Cool Toys, a Bristol-PA-based multi-brand toymaker with offices in Pennsylvania, California and Hong Kong. Wicked Cool Toys manufacturers action figures, dolls, plush, play sets and more based on proprietary brands and top licenses from partners, including master toy partner for Pokemon, Cabbage Patch Kids and Teddy Ruxpin. Rinzler has a long history in the toy industry dating back 20+ years, and has worked at companies such as MGA, Mattel, Playmates Toys and JAKKS Pacific where he held senior positions, including President of CDI, a JAKKS Pacific company. He is an Advisory Board Member to Women in Toys, a leading toy industry organization, and is an active member in the Toy Association. He is passionate about mentoring and advising fellow entrepreneurs and start-up companies, and has served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. When not working, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife, Zyta and daughter, Zoe. Rinzler holds his BA from Washington University and his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Headshot Coming Soon

Rich Mazel — Hasbro

BIO COMING SON