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WiT Empowerment Day and Toy Industry Mentors Announced

Female Entrepreneurs to Gain Years of Experience from Top Industry Experts and Benefit from Product Pitch Opportunities with Walmart and Toy Companies

New York, NY – August 22, 2017Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) has announced the speakers, industry experts, and panelists who will participate in its annual WIT Empowerment Day event, to be held Monday, October 2, 2017, the day before Fall Toy Preview® in Dallas officially begins. Held in collaboration with Walmart and The Toy Association, this event gives women the opportunity to pitch their play products to Walmart and buyers and top toy companies, and to be mentored by over 20 industry experts.

The speaker line-up for the event includes a morning keynote by Norma Rosenhain, CEO and founder of Creata; a Walmart Buyer Panel led by Anne Marie Kehoe, VP Toys at Walmart, and an afternoon special guest speaker, Ann Marie Buerkle, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The morning keynote and Walmart Buyer Panel are both open to all Fall Toy Preview® exhibitors and trade guests.

“We’re thrilled to welcome such an exciting roster of speakers and industry experts, and we appreciate their passion and commitment to helping our industry’s women achieve greater success,” said Deb de Sherbinin and Nancy Zwiers, WIT Empowerment Co-Chairs. “The knowledge they’ll share, and the insights, guidance and inspiration they’ll provide will have an invaluable and lasting impact in helping our members leapfrog to success.”

WIT has brought together experts from all corners of the toy industry for this event to help entrepreneurs, women-led startups, and small business owners grow their business and catapult their career.

Speakers and industry experts include:

  • Ann Marie Buerkle, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

  • Anne Marie Kehoe, Walmart

  • Avi Levine, Star Funding

  • Ben Dermer, Spin Master

  • David Becker, Blue Plate Media Services

  • Deb de Sherbinin, Perk Consulting

  • Denise Vannucci, Blue Plate Media Services

  • Elsie Collins, U.S. Small Business Administration

  • Gina Anzalone, ASTRA

  • Jeff Pinsker, Cardinal / Spin Master

  • Jerry Welch, Bambini Partners LLC

  • Jill Sasso, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

  • Joan Grasso, Entertainment One (EOne)

  • John Lee, Bambini Partners, LLC

  • Karen Kilpatrick, JazWings

  • Kelly Couchee, Licensing Expo International

  • Kimberly Carcone, The Toy Association

  • Laura Zebersky, Jazwares

  • Leila Nosrati, Master Toy Advisors

  • Lisa Shamus, Lisa Shamus and Partners

  • Lisa Wuennemann, PlayMonster

  • Marian Bossard, The Toy Association

  • Matt Phillips, Tier 1

  • Maureen McHale, McHale Design

  • Michele Martell, Martell Media House

  • Nancy Zwiers, Spin Master

  • Norma Rosenhain, Creata

  • Pablo Garrahan, Fiction Films

  • Robert Yusim, Product Counsel

  • Shelby Mathis, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

  • Stacy Lellos, Klutz

  • Stephanie Azzarone, Child’s Play Communications

  • Steven Heller, The Brand Liaison

  • Sue Warfield, ASTRA

  • Tanya Thompson, Hasbro

  • Veronica Walters, Funko

Panel discussions: • Walmart Buyers Panel with VP of Toys, Anne Marie Kehoe and Walmart Buyers • E-commerce Best Practices • DRTV – Using Direct Response to Launch a Product • ‘Be an Inventor’ Panel

Info Sessions are open to registered WIT members only: • 15-minute speed mentoring sessions with top industry experts in a variety of areas include: IP, licensing, content creation, e-commerce, financing, product development, packaging, manufacturing, sales & distribution, PR/marketing, advertising, product safety, industry associations, the SBA, and the WBENC.

WIT Cocktails & Connections – October 2 – 5:30 PM: All Fall Toy Preview® exhibitors and trade guests are invited to join in the fun at WIT’s annual Cocktails & Connections event, immediately following Empowerment Day at 5:30 PM on October 2 at Dallas Market Center, Hall of Nations. Tickets are on sale now, and may be purchased by clicking here.


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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