Sesame Street Veteran and Retailer Amazon.com Receive Top Honors at Women in Toys 11th Annual Awards Dinner
Ann Kearns, Vice President, Global Toys, Sesame Street Honored for Lifetime Achievement; Eva Lorenz Honored for Amazon.com, Retailer of the Year
February 2, 2015 – Recognizing the best and brightest women in the toy industry today, Women in Toys (WIT) will honor Ann Kearns (left), Vice President, Global Toys, Sesame Workshop, with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Eva Lorenz, Amazon.com, Inc., General Manager for Toys & Games, with Retailer of the Year at this year’s WIT 11th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing and Entertainment Dinner Sunday, February 15, coinciding with the 112th International Toy Fair in New York City.
Before “interactive” even became a buzzword, Ms. Kearns championed a gold standard for toys that encouraged engaging and delightful experiences for young children. Her expertise in developing quality Sesame Street products have helped children around the world grow smarter, stronger and kinder.
“We are so thrilled to present this much-deserved Lifetime Achievement award to Ann Kearns,” said Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry and co-chair of the Wonder Woman Dinner. “An inspiration to all of us, Ann has flourished in an industry that is largely male-dominated, and stands out because of her passion and dedication to creating toys that spark imagination and a lifelong love of learning.”
“For more than four decades, Ann has worked for Sesame Street, working her way up from a college intern in the Workshop’s Outreach department, through several successive management positions to her current role of overseeing licensing and product development strategy for the Workshop’s master toy licensee, Hasbro as well as its other toy licensees,” said Maura Regan, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Consumer Products for Sesame Workshop. “She has helped Sesame Street become one of the world’s most beloved children’s brands and has cemented her place in the industry as a leader, visionary and innovator. We are incredibly proud of her and happy to call her our colleague and friend.”
Ms. Kearns said, “I am truly honored to receive this award. My work at Sesame Workshop through the years has been rewarding in its own right, especially knowing that our efforts are helping extend the Workshop’s message to so many children around the world.”
Among the many accomplishments throughout her tenure, Ms. Kearns played a key role in the team that saw Tickle Me Elmo become a worldwide phenomenon in 1996. The toy garnered top honors from the National Association of Parenting Publications Awards, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Parents Magazine and Family Fun Magazine. Ten years later, T.M.X. (Tickle Me Extreme) was released and won Toy of the Year from the Toy Industry Association’s annual Toy of the Year Awards. In addition to her accomplishments in the toy category, in 1998, at a time when dual licensing wasn’t very common, Ms. Kearns took a new approach and licensed both American Greetings and Gibson Greetings for the card and party goods category in an effort to establish the broadest retail placement for the Sesame Street brand. It was a successful strategy and American Greetings remains a key licensing partner of the Workshop today. Ms. Kearns is also a recipient of the 2010 Wonder Women of Toys Award in the Licensor category.
Eva Lorenz serves as the General Manager for Amazon Toys & Games and is responsible for merchandising, marketing, customer service and operations. Eva joined Amazon in 2004 and held a variety of managerial roles across the Home and Garden, Kindle and Sports & Outdoors businesses prior to moving to Toys & Games in February 2014. Before joining Amazon, Eva spent 12 years in buying and merchandising leadership roles at Nordstrom.
“With the click of a button, a toy is on your doorstep the next day,” said Mady. “Amazon.com has changed the toy-buying playing field and set a top-notch standard in customer service, merchandising and digital marketing, that continues to shape consumer retail, and we are excited to honor Eva and Amazon.com with the WIT Retailer of the Year Award.”
ABOUT WOMEN IN TOYS, LICENSING & ENTERTAINMENT
Founded in 1991, Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) / The WIT Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to advance women through leadership, networking and educational opportunities. WIT serves and supports women at all stages of their careers, from entrepreneurs and startups to seasoned industry veterans. The WIT Foundation grants scholarships to deserving students enrolled in industry-related undergraduate programs. WIT has 25 chapters throughout the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, France, the UK and Australia, with liaisons in Finland, Germany, India and Lebanon.