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WIT Announces 2017 Wonder Women Awards Finalists

ChiTAG Founder Mary Couzin To Receive WIT’s Inaugural
Elise Lachowyn Mentorship Award

New York, NY, February 3, 2017 – Women in Toys, Licensing and Entertainment (WIT) will honor a dozen outstanding female business leaders and more than 50 remarkable finalists at the 13th Annual Wonder Women Awards Gala, held during the New York International Toy Fair. Winners will be announced on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at this year’s Gala, themed Changemakers: Playing it Forward, at Pier 60.

With support from Tech4Kids, WIT will also present its inaugural Elise Lachowyn Mentorship Award to Mary Couzin, the Founder and CEO of the Chicago Toy & Game Group (ChiTAG). Elise Lachowyn was a beloved WIT member who touched the lives of many in the industry as a mentor, business partner and friend. WIT honors Couzin for her immersive and impactful work as a mentor and passionate advocate for toy and game inventors around the world.

WIT will also honor former Chairman and CEO of Mattel, Jill Barad, with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Academy Award®-winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, co-founder and chair of the Bentonville Film Festival and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, with the 2017 Gamechanger Award.

This year’s Wonder Women Awards attracted nearly 100 nomination submissions from five countries, and the finalists include:

Dianne Bellchambers (Moose Toys)
Erin Stein (Macmillan Publishing)
Hayley Maguire (Hasbro)
Jennifer Bennett (Mattel)
Jessica Blue (UBM)
Karyn Weiss (Accessory Innovations)
Marie Todd (Komar Kids)
Meredith Norrie (The Walt Disney Company)
Sujata Luther (Nickelodeon)

Christina Schick (Madame Alexander Dolls)
Claire Tindall (Sphero)
Deb Salmon (Salmon Borre Group)
Kristin Hamilton (Hasbro)
Laurie Conway (Alex Brands)
Lesley Singleton (Playtime PR)
Lisa Wuennemann (PlayMonster)
Lynn Rosenblum (Middle School Moguls)
Marina Gorey (SuperAwesome)
Sejal Shah Miller (Mattel)
Sharon Vinderine (PTPA Media)
Sheena Stephens (MWW)
Tamara Horowitz (Spin Master)

Anita Choy (Moose Toys)
Anna Mowbray (ZURU Toys)
Deirdre Cross (Forrest-Pruzan Creative)
Gretchen Forrest (Hasbro)
Julia Prohaska (Mattel)
Kelly Woon (Funrise)
Laura Zebersky (Jazwares)
Tara Badie (Bandai America)

Andre Lake Mayer (ZAG Animation Studios
Cathy Galeota (Nickelodeon)
Meghan McCarthy (Hasbro)
Julia Pistor (Mattel)

Annalisa Batista-Ferreira (Mattel)
Catherine Croft Swanwick, Ph.D. (Catilli Games)
Jenny Kile (Kardtects Building Cards)
Julie Kerwin (IAmElemental)
Karen Kilpatrick (JazWings)
Kathryn Hardy (Disney Consumer Products)
Kelley Williams (Paige & Paxton)
Kirsten Augustad de Molina (WABA Fun)
Laura Barta (Whole Wide World Toys)
Lisa Pelletier (Bears2Go)
Madeleine Hunter (Hunter Products)
Marissa DiBartolo (Toy Book/Toy Insider)
Nicole Jakob (Part Time Renegade)
Nikki Kennamer (Hasbro)
Stephanie Haggerty (Moose Toys)
Stephanie Simpson Bughi (Funrise)

WIT acknowledges its many partners and sponsors for their ongoing generosity and support to help fulfill its mission, including Mattel, Nickelodeon, Bandai, PlayMonster, Spin Master, Toys”R”Us, Hasbro, Cartoon Network, Funrise, Jazwares, Moose Toys, Alex Brands, American Greetings Entertainment, Pamson, Entertainment One, JAKKS Pacific, LEGO, NBC Universal, NPD Group, VTech, The Bridge Direct, UBM, The Product Greenhouse, The Toy Book and ttpm.

For more information about the WIT Wonder Women Awards Gala and to order tickets, visit


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.

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