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Highlights from NY Toy Fair – Part I: Wonder Women Awards Gala

2017 WIT Wonder Women Awards Gala

Oh, What a Night! On February 19, over 650 executives and senior leaders in toys, licensing and entertainment celebrated our industry’s outstanding women at the 13th Annual Wonder Women Awards Gala. The fun and festive event took place at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers in New York City and benefited WIT and The WIT Foundation.

Click here to learn more about our talented and inspirational winners.

Congratulations 2017 Winners!

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The Honorees!

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Lifetime Achievement

Jill Barad and Richard Dickson

The Gala got off to a fabulous start as former Chairman and CEO of Mattel, Jill Barad, was honored for Lifetime Achievement. Presenting the award was Richard Dickson, President and COO of Mattel, who recognized Jill as an inspiration and force of nature for all she’s done and continues to do to advance our industry. 

Click the video below for Jill’s inspiring message . . .

Richard also presented Jill with Mattel’s official key to the Dreamhouse, a beautiful token of friendship, admiration, and appreciation for all she has done for kids everywhere.

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Gamechanger Award

Academy Award-winning actor and advocate Geena Davis was honored with the 2017 Gamechanger Award. Geena was recognized and celebrated for her meaningful and impactful work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, an organization that researches gender in media, and campaigns for the equal representation of women in entertainment. We enthusiastically salute Geena on her passionate efforts, and the profound impact she has had on reducing stereotypes and the portrayal of females both on the screen and on stores shelves.

Click the video below to learn how Geena is spearheading important change . . .

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Elise Lachowyn Mentorship Award

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of WIT’s inaugural Elise Lachowyn Mentorship Award, honoring Mary Couzin, Founder of the Chicago Toy & Game Group. With support from Tech4Kids, the award was presented by their CEO Brad Pederson and Elise’s husband, Drew Robertson, and recognized Mary for her contributions to the industry as a generous mentor and tenacious advocate for toy and game inventors around the world.

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WIT Emeritus Member Program

Left to Right: Christopher Bensch, Carol Spencer, Maureen Trotto, Carol Marschak, Laureen Trotto (not pictured: Laurie Schacht, Judy Shackelford, Erin Libby, Shirley Henschel).

Our industry’s early trailblazers were also celebrated as we introduced WIT’s first group of inductees into the WIT Emeritus Member Program. Developed in partnership with The Strong Museum of Play, this exciting initiative recognizes executives, designers, inventors, producers and entrepreneurs whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the toy industry. Read more here about the Program and these amazing women.

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Superhero Circle

WIT celebrated Superheroes at the Wonder Women Gala! WIT board member and Empowerment Co-Chair Nancy Zwiers, announced the Superhero Donor Challenge, a donation matching program, sponsored by the Nancy Zwiers Empowerment Fund. Nancy announced that she would give an additional $1,000 for every single Superhero who donates $5,000 or more, and $100 for each $1,000 donation. Supporters who donated $5,000 on the spot included Brian Goldner, Jerry Perez, Weibe Tinga, Jill Barad, and Brad Pederson.

THANK YOU to our Superheroes and to Nancy! We greatly appreciate your kind generosity and passionate support of WIT.

For all those who were unable to attend the Gala but would like to make a Superhero donation, please click here. Nancy Zwiers’ Superhero Donor Challenge matching program will expire May 2, 2017.

To view all the Wonder Women Gala photos on Facebook, click here and tag yourself!


2018 Wonder Women Awards Gala Sunday, February 18, 2018, Chelsea Piers, New York City



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