We are thrilled to announce that we have scheduled some amazing speakers and panelists lined up for our first annual World Congress of Play.
John Barbour - LeapFrog
John Barbour has served as the Chief Executive Officer at LeapFrog and as a board member since March 2011. Prior to joining LeapFrog, Mr. Barbour served as President of the GameHouse Division of RealNetworks, Inc. from October 2008 to August 2010, where he led the business to profitability. From October 2006 to October 2008, Mr. Barbour served as the Managing Partner of Volta Capital, LLC, a strategy and investment consulting firm where he assisted clients with a wide variety of investment and strategic development engagements. From 1999 to June 2006, Mr. Barbour was employed by Toys “R” Us, Inc., a leading retailer of children’s toys and products. He served as President, Toys “R” Us U.S. from August 2004 to June 2006, where he was responsible for $5.5 billion of retail sales through approximately 600 stores across the U.S. and built the private brands business to over $1 billion of annual sales. Prior to that, he served as President, Toys “R” Us International and Chairman, Toys “R” Us Japan from February 2002 to August 2004, achieving three years of record sales and earnings growth. From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Barbour served as President and Chief Executive Officer of toysrus.com, a subsidiary of Toys “R” Us, Inc., where he grew sales from $2 million in 1998 to $336 million in 2002. Mr. Barbour has also held senior level positions with Hasbro, Inc., Oddzon Products Inc., and Universal Matchbox Group, Ltd. Mr. Barbour holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry, with Honors, from the University of Glasgow.
Richard Barry - Toys "R" Us
As Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer, Toys“R”Us, Inc., Richard Barry leads all merchandising initiatives for the company’s U.S. operations, including Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores nationwide and the legendary FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City, as well as the company’s dedicated e-commerce sites. In this role, Mr. Barry oversees a team of merchants in identifying and monitoring worldwide product trends and innovations to advance the company’s position as THE toy and juvenile products authority. In addition, he is responsible for driving strategic initiatives within the company’s Marketing and e-commerce groups, including mobile platforms and omnichannel programs.
Mr. Barry plays a leadership role in driving collaboration, providing insights and leveraging industry-wide relationships to benefit the company’s merchant teams around the world in building differentiated product assortments. In addition, he works to ensure the company offers a consistently strong in-stock position on the hottest products and negotiates first-to-market opportunities on new item introductions.
During his nearly 27-year tenure at Toys“R”Us, which spans across the U.S. and the U.K., he has accumulated broad experience in all aspects of sales, operations and merchandising, through roles of increasing seniority. Mr. Barry joined Toys“R”Us, Inc. in 1985 as a part-time employee in the U.K., and in 2004, he was promoted to Merchandising Director for Toys“R”Us, International, where he managed buying decisions for categories including Video Games, Electronics, Learning and Sports.
The following year, Mr. Barry was appointed Vice President, Divisional Merchandising Manager for the Learning, Electronics and Entertainment businesses for the company’s U.S. toy stores. In 2010, he was named Vice President, General Merchandising Manager, Toys“R”Us, U.S., overseeing the Learning, Electronics and Entertainment product categories. In February 2012, Mr. Barry was promoted to Senior Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer, Toys“R”Us, U.S. and was subsequently named to his current position in October of the same year.
Mr. Barry serves on the Board of the Entertainment Merchants Association. In addition, he was elected to the Board of Directors for the Toy Industry Association in February 2013.
Trip Hawkins is a Hall of Fame game industry leader who founded and built Electronic Arts and played a key role in defining the PC industry. Co-Founder and CEO of If You Can Company, a publisher of educational games, he also now advises game and tech companies including Kixeye, NativeX and Extreme Reality 3D. He has spent his entire career in new media, first as an executive that pioneered the PC industry along with Apple’s founders at a time when the entire company had only 25 office workers. He founded EA in 1982, introduced many fundamental strategies and business practices to the game industry and was the creative and production force behind EA Sports. He later founded 3DO, a pioneering digital media platform; and Digital Chocolate where he led the company to deliver more than 200 million mobile app downloads and billions of game sessions. He developed and produced several games with software artists that are now in various halls of fame, and is himself the first and only business executive named to the Hall of Fame by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.
Elie Dekel - Saban Brands
Elie Dekel serves as the president of Saban Brands, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group. Formed in 2010, Saban Brands acquires and develops a world-class portfolio of consumer properties and capitalizes on the company’s experience, track record and capabilities in growing and monetizing these brands through content, media and marketing. Dekel manages the company’s diverse portfolio, which includes iconic brands such as kids brand Power Rangers, fashion and lifestyle brand Paul Frank, among others. He provides strategic guidance to the company’s management team, which accounts for decades of experience in media, content creation, branding, licensing, marketing and finance.
Dekel also oversees Saban Brands’ digital initiatives including ZUI.com, the leading kids-safe internet site and browser (Kidzui), and The Playforge, a mobile developer with successful game titles including Zombie Farm and Tree World.
Prior to working with Saban Capital to launch Saban Brands in 2010, Dekel served as head of Consumer Products for 20th Century Fox where he headed the worldwide licensing, promotion and consumer products marketing for many of their film and television ventures, including “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy”, “James Cameron’s Avatar” and “Ice Age”, among others. Prior to Fox, he worked as an agent at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), specializing in content creation and brand integration for several of the agency’s highest profile projects such as “American Idol” and Hasbro’s “Transformers; The Movie”. Previously, Dekel was president of Saban Consumer Products/Fox Family Worldwide, where he oversaw the company’s worldwide marketing and branding efforts.
Carter Keithley - Toy Industry Association
Carter Keithley became President of the Toy Industry Association in 2006. In this position, he is responsible for overseeing the activities of the $18M+ not-for-profit trade association for the producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America.
During his tenure, TIA has increased its membership to more than 550 companies responsible for approximately 85% of domestic U.S. toy sales, the Association’s scope has been expanded to include all companies in the North American toy industry, and its external affairs initiatives enhanced to address a broader range of industry-related issues on the state, federal, regional and global levels.
In 2010, Mr. Keithley received the Chairman’s Award from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for his leadership with the Toy Safety Initiative of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
Mr. Keithley also serves as Vice Chairman of the NY Society of Association Executives (NYSAE), a member of the Board of the Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC) and a member of the Consumer Goods International Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC-4) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration. He has been a volunteer director and chair of several industry organizations, including the Associations Council of the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Council of the Housing Industry. Additionally, he was an appointee to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC).
A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Mr. Keithley practiced law for several years before joining the association management firm of Smith, Bucklin. His 35+ year career as chief executive of more than a dozen industry associations and professional societies has focused on advocacy and public affairs in areas such as safety, environmentalism and small business issues.
Chris Heatherly - Disney Digital
Chris Heatherly is the VP/GM of Disney's Club Penguin, the largest online world for kids, which has recently expanded from the web to mobile. He also oversaw Disney Digital Learning and oversaw the launch of several successful mobile learning apps connected through an online assessment system that could report kids learning progress to their parents on Facebook. Prior to joining Disney Interactive, Heatherly was VP/GM of Disney's Toy business in North America where he worked with major toy makers including Mattel and Lego and oversaw some of the industry's leading toy franchises such as Disney Princess, Cars, and Toy Story. He also founded the Disney Electronics internal startup which became a $300m global retail business and created Disney's toy tech incubator, Toymorrow, holding 32 patents in toy technology innovation. Prior to Disney, Heatherly worked at frogdesign, the world's leading design and innovation firm, as its Chief Strategist working with clients as diverse as Dell, Macromedia, Nike, and Ford Motor Company. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Communications and is a proud Texan ex-pat.
Michael Shore, Ph.D. - Mattel
Michael Shore, Ph.D. is currently Vice President of Global Consumer Insights at Mattel, responsible for research on all Mattel and Fisher-Price brands. Over the past 15 years, he has had responsibility for investigating kids’, parents’ and adults’ attitudes towards toys and play across all categories including dolls, action figures, vehicles, board games, digital, plush, sports, crafts, construction, and infant/preschool products.
During his tenure, Michael has surfaced many of the foundational insights around toy preferences and play behavior that Mattel uses to guide business strategy, innovation, and new product development. He has partnered with multiple universities and leaders in the field to investigate the significance and importance of play in kids’ lives.
Michael’s specific areas of research interest have included play behavior, new play platforms and technologies, and surfacing key social and emotional benefits associated with play. Over the years, Michael’s research on toys and play has extended throughout the world including Europe, Latin America, and Asia. He has presented at multiple conferences and Universities and has degrees in Clinical, and Organizational Psychology.
Richard Gottlieb - Global Toy Experts
Richard Gottlieb is a well-known toy industry commentator and CEO of Global Toy Experts, a world-renowned consultancy and resource for toy industry analysis and strategies. In addition, Richard is Publisher of Global Toy News, the industry resource for toy news, toy trends and analysis of the business of play. Richard combines an MBA in Global Management with years of toy industry experience to help small, medium and large toy manufacturers increase their market share.
Richard is frequently interviewed by media worldwide, and has been called on by ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, Newsweek and other media outlets. He is a Contributing Editor to Playthings magazine in the U.S., Toys n Playthings in the U.K., Juguetes in Spain and other European toy magazines.
Considered an expert on the toy industry, Richard is frequently asked to speak at toyindustry conferences and serve on various executive panels. Richards Building Our Future conferences, focusing on the impact that toys and media have on the future personal and professional choices individuals make in adulthood, take place annually in New York, Nuremberg and Los Angeles.
Richard has written a book, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Wal-Mart and his blog, Out of the Toy Box is a popular destination for those who want to know what is happening and is predicted to happen in the toy industry. In addition, Richard produces a monthly bulletin called Whats Next which focuses on coming trends. Richard is the Ambassador to the United States for the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany. In recognition of his prominence in the toy industry, Richard is member of the National Toy Hall of Fame voting committee.
Charles Albert - Creativity, Inc.
Charles Albert is the Co-Founder of Creativity, Inc., Inspire Ltd (HK), Funfare LLC and Creativity Mobile.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela of American parents, Charles graduated in music from Stanford and played music and sangprofessionally for 10 years. He created a guitar amplifier invention and manufacturing business followed by recording studio/production facilities where he worked as an engineer and producer with a variety of popular artists. He composed music for Silicon Valley corporations, CD-ROM developers and platform game companies. Games work led to toys, starting with the original LeapFrog products and Tyco’s Tickle Me Elmo. In 1998, Charles and his wife Sally co-founded Creativity, Inc., and in 2006 Inspire Ltd in Hong Kong to provide development services for toy, game and learning products. The invention firm Funfare LLC was established in 2004, and in 2010 Creativity Mobile began developing mobile games.
Creativity and Inspire have contributed to over 5,000 on shelf products, including 50+ TOTY (“Toy of the Year”) nominees and over 15 winners including 3 “Toy of the Year” winners. Funfare, LLC inventions have been licensed by Mattel, Hasbro, Fisher Price, Leapfrog, Playmates, Sassy, etc., with Funfare earning “Inventor of the Year” recognition from Leapfrog. Mobile Games developed at Creativity have been downloaded over 2,000,000 times.
Kati Heljakka MSc., M.A. - Toys and Play Researcher
Doctor of Arts (D.A.) from the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Art Pori Unit, Finland. Her doctoral dissertation explores the kidult toy end user.Kati is a toy researcher with a background in studies of economics, art history and visual culture. Before commencing doctoral studies in visual culture, she worked as a game designer in the toy industry and has continued to work as a toy design consultant, art critic and visual artist. She is a board member for ITRA (International Toy Researchers Association) the Chairwoman for the Women in Toys organization (WIT) in Scandinavia and is the Secretary of the Popular Culture Association Finland (PCAF).
Utku Tansel - Euromonitor International
Utku Tansel is the Head of Toys and Games Research at Euromonitor International. After completing his MBA in London, Utku joined Euromonitor initially as a Research Analyst in 2004. Over the past nine years, he has been responsible for strategic development and managing of diverse research projects in various industries including toys and games, consumer electronics, clothing and footwear, housewares and household furnishings, DIY and gardening, personal goods and eyewear. In May 2010, he was appointed to his current role developing specialist in-depth toys and games industry knowledge and global expertise in the process.
Darell Hammond - KaBOOM!
Darell Hammond is the Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, a not-for-profit based in Washington, DC dedicated to saving play by making sure there is a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. KaBOOM! works with communities and corporations to build playgrounds in North America where there are none. To help start the conversation and educate Americans about the importance of play in children’s lives, Hammond wrote KABOOM!: A Movement to Save Play (Rodale, April 2011; paperback, September 2012).
Founded out of Hammond’s apartment in 1996, KaBOOM! has raised $200 million, rallied a million volunteers, led the hands-on construction of 2,200 playgrounds, and inspired a movement for the child’s right to play. Hammond was the 2011 recipient of the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award presented in Dalian, China and recently named to the Forbes Magazine list of the world’s Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs.
Hammond lives in Washington, DC, with his wife Kate Becker.
Miles Ludwig - Sesame Workshop
Miles Ludwig is the Managing Director, Content Innovation Lab at Sesame Workshop. Miles leads a group that focuses on the intersection of emerging technologies and educational outcomes to identify key platforms for Sesame Workshop to deliver its content now and in the future, and advocates for innovation in the creation of that content. The Lab plays an additive supporting role across projects to analyze opportunities and trends, making recommendations for the achievement of greater and more sustained impact by capitalizing on the potential of technology to deliver educational experiences.
Previously, Miles led the Digital Media team that was awarded two Emmys (2009/10), a Webby (2010) and a Peabody award (2010). He was previously the Creative Director of Elias Arts’ Sound Intelligence Group, and the co-founder of Kirt Gunn & Associates, Inc. (KGA), an interactive advertising agency. At KGA, he led a team that created cross-platform campaigns for Diageo, LVMH, Ford, and Volvo. Miles was educated at Brown University and New York University.
For more than four decades Sesame Street has been engaging children, parents, and caregivers to play and learn together, with the help of some furry friends. Through television, radio, books, online, video games, and community outreach, Sesame Workshop is providing a variety of ways to have fun learning letters and numbers and also important health, safety, and socio-emotional lessons. Miles Ludwig will share insight into the research and development that goes into all Sesame Street content and what the Workshop has learned about creating educational games, apps and ebooks for preschoolers.
Mary Couzin - Chicago Toy and Game Group
Mary Couzin is CEO/Founder of the Chicago Toy & Game (ChiTAG) Group, which includes: playCHIC Toy Inspired Fashion Event, Int'l Summit for Professional Inventors, Int'l Toy & Game Innovation Conference, DiscoverGames.com, Toy & Game Inventor of the Year Awards (TAGIEs), Chicago Toy & Game Fair, Young Inventor Challenge and other events promoting the importance of play, innovation and power of inventors to help sell products. www.chitag.com
Partnered with Live Oak Games on GamesforEducators.com with a newsletter reaching 175,000+ educators. ChiTAG Group also publishes newsletters to industry, inventors and consumers. She writes for Global Toy News and ASTRA's Discover the WooHoo Factor consumer newsletter and hosts ASTRA's Inventor Manufacturer Academy sessions. To encourage community and collaboration, she hosts casual industry get-togethers at NYTF, ASTRA, ChiTAG and in cities here and abroad.
Industry service includes TIA's TOTY Nominating and PlayCon Committees and National Toy Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Honors include Women in Toys Wonder Woman Entrepreneur Award 2009, TAGIE Founder's Award 2011 and Global Toys Person of the Year 2012. Mary has a BBA from University of Notre Dame and a MBA from Loyola University.
Nancy Zwiers - Funosopher
Nancy Zwiers is CEO and Chief Funosopher of Funosophy, Inc., a leading brand-building consulting and invention firm in the play industry. Founded in 2000, Funosophy conducts extensive research in the area of kids and play and has advised over 150 clients ranging from start-ups to the biggest. Prior to founding Funosophy, Zwiers held top executive positions with Mattel, including SVP of Worldwide Marketing for Barbie®.
With over twenty years in the kids, toy and entertainment space, Zwiers has deep expertise in kids and their play, and is broadly acknowledged as one of the world’s leading experts in girls. Zwiers’ theory of play bridges the disciplines of neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and child development with empirical data from the toy marketplace.
Nancy MacIntyre - Fingerprint
Nancy is the CEO and co-founder of Fingerprint, the first-of-its-kind kids mobile learn and play entertainment network offering more than 30 apps for children as young as 3 years old. Prior to Fingerprint, Nancy was EVP of Product Innovation & Marketing at LeapFrog where she led the charge around connected learning with the launch of the Learning Path Online, Tag Reader and Leapster Gaming System. Before LeapFrog, Nancy was VP Global Sales and Marketing at LucasArts where she traveled the world marketing a lot of Star Wars games. Earlier, she was VP Marketing at Hasbro Interactive working on everything from Tonka CDRom Playsets to Monopoly Online to Roller Coaster Tycoon on all gaming platforms. All told, Nancy has launched over 100 games, 11 #1 titles, and over $2 billion in revenue.
Brian Torney - Manifest Digital, Otherdoor Entertainment, ChiTAG
In his roles as Strategy Director of Entertainment Brands at Manifest Digital, Co-Founder at toy invention studio Otherdoor Entertainment, and ChiTAG Advisory Board member, Brian Torney is an innovator in the play industries, kids entertainment, and product/brand initiatives. Refusing to grow up, Brian has been contributing to the play industries since the age of 15, when he worked at a Chicagoland Toys R Us store. Brian spearheads ground-breaking creative and interactive projects for industry-leading entertainment and toy companies including Cartoon Network, Fox, Nickelodeon, Step2, The Marketing Store, McDonald’s, THQ and Hasbro. He specializes in cross-platform brand storytelling. Brian also practices ancient Jedi techniques of mind control… These are not the droids you’re looking for.
Donna Friedman Meir - Lemonade
Donna Friedman Meir is the President of LEMONADE Creative Consulting, a strategic consulting firm that sparks meaningful growth for clients focused on building inspiring experiences for kids and families. An accomplished brand builder, producer, programmer and marketer of children’s media content, her career has been dedicated to creating breakthrough entertainment for children across multiple platforms and for a global audience. Prior to launching Lemonade, Donna was President of National Geographic Kids Entertainment and held senior executive positions with the WB Television Network and Nickelodeon.
LEMONADE’s current and former clients include Zumba Fitness, SEGA, Insight Strategy Group, Juilliard Discoveries, Nickelodeon and BrainBeat among others.
Donna recently lured her family back from NYC to the BAY AREA with the promise of amazing new playgrounds and playmates to explore. Jacks anyone?
Traci Paige Johnson - Yummico
Traci Paige Johnson is the creator of Blues Clues, Nickelodeon’s acclaimed children’s franchise known for its pioneering visual style and activity-based pedagogy. Traci also co-created PBS’ hit preschool reading show Super Why! and is the Creative Director of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. in 2011 she founded yummico, with partners Caroline Baron, Anthony Weintraub and Bob Mowen. yummico develops content for children with a focus on technology-based interactive platforms. Featuring lovable characters, irresistible stories and a homegrown aesthetic, yummico's goal is to create high quality content that kids adore and parents trust.
Susanna Pollack - Yummico
Susanna Pollack has been creating successful content partnerships for leading media companies for over 15 years. Following 12 years at BBC Worldwide Americas where she led all US children's initiatives, she set up her own shop, Non-Stop Media. From traditional television networks to cutting edge ‘trans-media’ start-ups, Susanna has led multi-platform IP development, brand strategies, TV distribution and coproductions, channel development, and corporate partnerships. Past clients include MAC Cosmetics, TEDxEast, History Channel, Liberty Science Center/One Day Universe, The Gene Kelly Legacy Foundation, SocialSamba and Purpose, a social impact business providing ‘movement infrastructure’. Currently is working with yummico in a strategic and business development role.
Nicholas Webb - Hanz Toys, Author of The Innovation Playbook
Nicholas J. Webb is a world-renowned business futurist and innovation thought leader. Webb is the Author of “The Innovation Playbook” and “The Digital Innovation Playbook”. He is also a successful inventor with a wide range of patented technologies ranging from one of the world’s smallest medical implants to consumer and industrial products. Webb is also the inventor of the popular Hanz® line of educational toys. He has been awarded over 35 Patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Webb has launched hundreds of technologies in his 25-year career. He currently provides business and innovation strategy consulting to a wide range of clients, ranging from small startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Oren Jacob - ToyTalk
Before co-founding ToyTalk as CEO, Oren was an Entrepreneur in Residence at August Capital. A filmmaker and technologist, he spent more than 20 years at Pixar, most recently as Chief Technical Officer and Director of the Studio Tools group. His feature film credits include "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2", "A Bug's Life", and Supervising Technical Director for "Finding Nemo". Oren also helped found Pixar University and taught animation at the Academy of Art College for seven years. Oren currently teaches "Lean Launchpad" courses with Steve Blank at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, and for the NSF. And Oren plans to drop all of this in a heartbeat to become a pro snowboarder the minute that first sponsor shows up.
Matt Brown - Innovation Games
Matt is currently Chief Gaming Officer at Innovation Games, a enterprise software and consulting company that helps private and public organizations solve significant, durable problems through collaborative games. For nearly 20 years, Matt has been creating transformative experiences by inventing and launching new brands and companies focused on activating play to make our lives happier, healthier and more sustainable. His operational experience includes being Chief Strategist at Speck Design; SVP of Scholastic; President of Klutz; VP of Business Development and the Internet Division at LeapFrog; and co-founder of Zoob. He co-founded big BOING, an integrated strategy and development company that partnered with Toys R Us, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, Coca Cola, Kraft, Learning Curve and others to launch or revitalize major domestic and international brands. He clerked for Judge Oliver Seth in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which means he used to be an attorney, but don’t hold that against him. He has spoken at the World Creativity Forum, Playing for Keeps Summit, E3, 2013 Cisco Innovation Summit, Better By Design CEO Summit, Haas Business School, the d-school at Stanford and many others. Matt is an advisor for PBS Kids, GoAnimate and Slingshot Power. Matt and is daughter are trying to visit all 50 state capitals. Boise is next!
Reyne Rice - Trend Specialist, Toy Trends
For nearly 15 years, Reyne Rice has been regarded as the knowledgeable voice of the toy industry, advising the media on youth trends for toys, games and entertainment. She is a seasoned toy industry professional with over 30 years experience in marketing, researching and analyzing the toy industry & youth market.
Reyne has developed products and solutions for the media, consumers, trade associations, retailers, manufacturers, and licensors, providing key insights for small, mid-tier and Fortune 500 companies.
She is frequently consulted and quoted in business and consumer publications, including USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNN Money, Financial Times, Fortune, Businessweek, Brandweek and Forbes and featured on Good Morning America, Donny Deutsch Big Idea, Fox News, CBS Marketwatch, NBC Nightly News, CBS Early Show and Fox Business.
Reyne presents at industry-sponsored events on emerging trends and the state of the toy industry, with Keynote speeches on trends and industry innovations in Toys, Games and Technology. Most recent presentations include Digital Kids Conference (Feb 2012-2013), New York ToyFair (2004-2013), Germany Spielwaremesse International Toy Fair, (2007-2013), Consumer Electronics Show (CES, 2007-2013, Kids at Play Summit), ChiTag Toy & Game Fair, Chicago (Nov 2007-2013), Dust or Magic Mobile App Camp (May 2010-2013), Engage Expo (New York, Feb 2010 and 2011), Dust or Magic: Children's Tech Review Conference (Nov 2007-2013), Toys Game & Tech Summit: Engage Expo (Sept 2010), Bologna Book Fair Licensing Summit (Mar 2009), Dubai Middle Eastern ToyFair (April 2008).
Reyne is a published writer in domestic & international trade and consumer publications.
Chris Bensch - National Museum of Play
In 1989, Christopher Bensch became one of the curators at The Strong in Rochester, New York, home to the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls, and games. Today, Chris is Vice President for Collections oversees the museum’s 400,000 play-related objects. He also serves as the primary spokesperson for the National Toy Hall of Fame which, every November, selects two or three classic toys deserving that special honor.
Caroline Hu Flexer - Duck Duck Moose
Caroline Hu Flexer is a Co-Founder of Duck Duck Moose, an award-winning developer of educational mobile apps for children that was founded in 2008 and quickly became a leader in the industry. Duck Duck Moose focuses on creating high-quality, educational, fun and engaging apps that are beautifully designed and loved by both children and parents. To date, the company has created 16 top-selling apps - Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Peek-a-Zoo, Musical Me, Puzzle Pop, Fish School, Park Math, Word Wagon, Duck Duck Moose Reading, Trucks, More Trucks, Draw and Tell, Princess Fairy Tale Maker and Super Hero Comic Maker - and has received 15 Parents’ Choice awards, 15 Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Awards and a KAPi award for the “Best Children’s App” at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show. Duck Duck Moose apps have received more than 2.8 million paid downloads. Duck Duck Moose is headquartered in San Mateo, California.
Prior to Duck Duck Moose, Caroline worked as a design consultant at IDEO, and as a software product manager at Intuit. She holds an AB in Architecture from Princeton University, attended the Master in Architecture program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She lives in Palo Alto, CA with her husband Michael and two daughters (7 years old and 5 years old), who are the real Duck Duck Moose product managers.
Darran Garnham - Mind Candy
Mr. Darran Garnham serves as Chief Business Development Officer and Chief Licensing Officer at Mind Candy Ltd., and served as its Head of Licensing. Mr. Garnham has been in the media and licensing industry for over 10 years. He started as a Head Coach and Physiotherapist at Tottenham Hotspur FC. He completed university with a degree in Sports Science.
David Merrill - Sifteo
Dave is an expert in cutting-edge human-computer interaction and has developed multiple award-winning interfaces and technologies. A frequent speaker in the domains of user interface innovation, the future of play, and entrepreneurship, Dave and his work have been featured at TED, MoMA, the Discovery Channel, and Wired.
Dave holds a BS in Symbolic Systems and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an MS and PhD from the MIT Media Lab.
Meryl Neiman - Playdate Planet
Meryl Neiman is Co-Founder and CEO of Playdate Planet, an innovative company that lets parents connect and schedule playdates online. She started the company to foster play opportunities for children and writes and speaks regularly about the importance of unstructured play. A self-styled anti "Tiger Mom", Meryl's mission is to convince other moms that they need to do less and allow their kids to play more. She articulates her parenting philosophy on her radio talk show, Parenting With Playdate Planet, and is working on a forthcoming book for parents, tentatively titled: Play to Win: Why Monkey Bars and Make Believe Can Make or Break Your Child's Future. Prior to becoming a playpreneur, Meryl was a litigation attorney with one of the country's largest law firms, an experience that she draws upon frequently when making the case for play.
Meryl is a graduate of Brown University and Duke University School of Law. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, two children, and three dogs. Her husband, David Axelson, is the head of child psychiatry at Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University and acts as an unofficial consultant and sounding board for Meryl's playful ideas.
Keith Maddison - BoostAR
Keith Maddison is an Augmented Reality (AR) Architect and leads all business development for BoostAR, the world leader in mobile AR solutions for brands, manufacturers and retailers alike. With a client portfolio that includes Marvel, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Disney, Walmart, Mattel, Ford, Toyota etc., BoostAR and it’s parent company Ad-Dispatch Inc., are breaking down traditional categories and revolutionizing everything you think you know about play industries and the retail experience with “phygital” enhancements. A life long fan-boy with a background in creative industries including film, television and music, Keith is a strategic thought leader in a digital world that knows no bounds. As AR technologies, digital content and mobile trends continue to transform traditional thinking, Keith and the entire BoostAR team will challenge you to: Question Your Reality.
Anna van Slee - Manifest Digital - Otherdoor Entertainment
Anna has been aiding and abetting the success of global kids' entertainment brands such as Furby, Transformers and My Little Pony for the last 6 years. Her expertise ranges from branding and intellectual property development, to cross-platform marketing and product development. Anna holds a Master degree in New Media from Northwestern University, which means in student loan terms, her brain is the equivalent of a luxury automobile. Good thing brains don't depreciate! Anna also directs the playCHIC Fashion Show, which kicks off ChiTAG Week in Chicago. She is currently co-writing a book that teaches experience design to beginners through activities and games. It's called "Adventures in Experience Design" and will be available through Peach Pit Press this December. Anna also like to sit around and do nothing, preferably with a glass of whiskey or some ice cream.
Eric Hardman - Otherdoor Entertainment
Long before Eric spearheaded one of the first major online subscription gaming sites as Director of Product Planning at Disney, he had been a strategic innovator - founding the Disney Online internet group. Eric brings that passion for creating matchless user experiences to otherdoor, where he guides strategy by challenging the production teams to refine products into unparalleled solutions. Eric has ample experience in this role: For 25 years he has pioneered digital media entertainment and strategy for global brands like Disney Interactive, Columbia Pictures, Judge Dredd, Hollywood Records, Touchstone Pictures, James and the Giant Peach, Scholastic, Walt Disney World Resort, Playskool, Scrabble, and Monopoly.
David Kleeman - PlayCollective
Strategist, analyst, author and speaker — for a quarter-century, David Kleeman has led the children’s media industry in developing sustainable, kid-friendly solutions. In May 2013, he broadened his focus, and is now developing a unique new global kids & family "think tank” as Senior Vice President of Insights Programs and PlayVangelist for PlayCollective.
PlayCollective is a global company and network that employs a uniquely integrated mix of market research, strategic business planning, brand building, and multi-platform product development to help organizations of all sizes establish meaningful life-long connections with consumers in today’s fast-paced, non-linear, connected world.
From 1988-2013, Kleeman was President of the American Center for Children and Media, promoting the exchange of ideas, expertise and information as a means for building quality. He remains advisory board chair to the international children's TV festival (Prix Jeunesse), a 2013 Senior Fellow of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, and a Governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Kleeman travels worldwide seeking best practices in children’s and family media, technology and products; he has given presentations on six continents. He writes extensively for trade and general press, including two book chapters and commentaries for the Huffington Post.
Beth Rogozinski - Transmedia SF
Beth is a serial entrepreneur, published author, and former college instructor with over twenty years in the media technology industry in strategy, production and marketing. She was on the founding team of the world renown Multimedia Studies Program at SFSU and was the Executive Director of the DigiQuest Learning Center. During her tenure at Silicon Graphics (SGI), Beth helped create and launch a new multimillion dollar consumer products division. After SGI, Beth founded Systrum Media Consultants where her clients included many dot.com and Web 2.0 start-ups as well as established companies such as 3Ware and Macromedia. While working at Macromedia, Beth helped launch the digital video editing software, Final Cut, which was then sold to Apple. Beth also served as the VP of Client Services for West Coast Operations for Circle, a full service ad and brand agency that was acquired by Havas. After completing an MBA, Beth joined Devicescape, a Kleiner-Perkins funded start-up and executed three successful product launches including launches into Europe.
Beth has founded games and apps companies including Signal 2 Productions and D2S Games, a new and innovative platform that uses smart phones with big screen TVs to play multiplayer games. She is an advisor to many start-ups and non-profits such as Kleenslate Concepts, the Mobile Monday Momentum Accelerator, Grimm Bros Games and Wise Old Duck Games. Most recently, Beth founded Transmedia SF, an agency/studio/incubator/salon with the aim of accelerating the transmedia revolution across industries and around the world.
Lisa Finn - EPM - A division of Business Valuatoin Resources, LLC
Lisa Finn is the Editor of Research Alert (published by EPM Communications, a division of Business Valuation Resources), and has authored EPM reports on various aspects of consumer behavior, including mobile shopping, coupons, the changing roles of fathers, and the impact of digital devices on American lifestyles.
Lisa joined EPM Communications in 1998 as Editor of Youth Markets Alert and Marketing to the Emerging Majorities, and was Editor of Marketing to Women from 1999 to 2006. Her background also includes reporting on the licensing business and writing and research as a consultant on topics such as single consumers, marketing to moms, social media, financial resources for women business owners, and Gen X and Y women.
EPM publishes newsletters, research studies and directories which focus on marketing, consumer, and retail trends. The company also produces conferences and seminars; offers telephone-based short-term consulting as well as in-depth competitive analysis; and provides speakers for in-house presentations, workshops and conferences. The company is widely known for its expertise in licensing and merchandising, and publishes The Licensing Letter and other resources for the licensing community.
BVR delivers authoritative market data, continuing professional education, and expert opinion to business appraisers, merger and acquisition professionals, private equity and venture capitalists, business brokers, CPAs, lawyers and judges, owners, CFOs, and others. BVR's Pratt's Stats database is the leading source of information about mergers and acquisitions for private companies.
Dan Yaccarino - Yaccarino Studios
Children the world over know Dan Yaccarino from his children's books (more than a million and a half sold to date), Parent's Choice Award-winning animated TV series Oswald (Nick Jr) and Emmy-winning Willa's Wild Life (NBC and Qubo) and character designs for The Backyardigans (Nickelodeon), as well as his many illustrated toys, games, and other children's products. His bold, stylized illustrations add wit and energy to the work of such prestigious authors as Margaret Wise Brown, Jack Prelutsky, Kevin Henkes and Patricia MacLachlan in addition to his own stories.
Dan's internationally recognized art style has earned him a large following in Japan, exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Rome, and a visit to the White House. Dan's books have been translated into many languages and have inspired ebooks, children's musicals and video adaptations. People all over the world enjoy Oswald, Dan's animated television series about the wonderfully whimsical world of a lovable octopus, which Time magazine chose as one of the top 6 shows to watch on cable. Animation Magazine hails him as "an American original."
Dan's work has been recognized with a host of prestigious awards including the Bologna Ragazzi, The New York Time 10 Best Illustrated, ALA Notable and the Parents Choice Award. Over 1.5 million of his books have been sold to date.
Dan lives with his wife and their two children in New York City and creates his quirky characters in his studio full of vintage toys.
Jessica Lindl - Institute of Play
Jessica is responsible for overseeing GlassLab, focusing on transforming learning and assessment through digital games. Jessica has spent over 15 years leading teams that design, develop, market and sell learning games to the global education market. In her work at organizations like Scientific Learning, Riverdeep (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and The Learning Company, she strived to improve learning outcomes for all children by blending effectiveness with engagement. She also serves on the board of Education for Change, a Charter Management Organization serving Oakland, California’s most disadvantaged youth. Jessica is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, where she received a Masters in Business Administration with a focus on entrepreneurship and education. She loves testing new learning games with her husband and two sons.
GlassLab brings together leaders in commercial games and experts in learning and assessment to leverage digital games as powerful, data-rich learning and formative assessment environments. The Lab represents a groundbreaking collaboration between Institute of Play, the Entertainment Software Association, Electronic Arts, Educational Testing Service, Pearson’s Center for Digital Data, Analytics & Adaptive Learning and others. With best-in-class talent and intellectual property from EA; trusted expertise in evidence-based assessment from ETS and Pearson; the ESA’s distributed network of thought leaders and public advocates; and Institute of Play’s expertise as a leading innovator in 21st century learning design, GlassLab is creating a new model for commercial game studios and learning organizations to come together to do great work.
Richard Gill - NH Contract Management
Richard has worked in the traditional game business for 30 years, primarily in the game development and global sales/marketing arena. Currently, via his company NH Contract Management, Richard represents 10+ clients and their respective properties to over 60 markets around the world. Richard is also an “Emmy” nominated Executive Director, was formerly a partner in the game “Pictionary”. Included in his extensive business background he was Executive VP of the international arm of Trivial Pursuit for several years and has been a partner/inventor in several startup businesses in the toy industry.
Becky Herr Stephenson, PH.D, The Joan Ganz Cooney Center
Dr. Herr-Stephenson is a media researcher focused on teaching and learning with popular culture and technology. She earned her Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 2008.
Currently, Becky is a Research Associate for the Children, Youth, and Media research and design track at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC. Her position is jointly supported by the Cooney Center and the Innovation Lab; therefore, her current research aims to bridge the goals of both organizations and focuses on participatory learning for elementary school students.
Becky was the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s 2010-2011 Research Fellow. Prior to joining the Center, she was a postdoctoral researcher with the Digital Media and Learning Hub within the Humanities Research Institute at UC Irvine and a member of the research team for the Digital Youth Project, a three-year ethnography of youth media practices, both funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
A life-long fan of children’s media, Becky has an encyclopedic knowledge of Sesame Street and all things having to do with the Harry Potter franchise. She is co-author of Teaching Harry Potter: The Power of Imagination in Multicultural Classrooms (2011, Palgrave MacMillan) and Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (2009, MIT Press).
Brendan Boyle, IDEO
Brendan, a Partner at IDEO, passionately promotes entrepreneurial thinking and doing at all of our locations worldwide. Throughout his career, Brendan has invented and licensed more than 150 consumer products, specializing in the design of kid-centric goods, services, and experiences. His background and interests led him to start Skyline, a toy-invention company that was acquired by IDEO and ultimately became our Toy Lab. He also co-authored The Klutz Book of Inventions.
Beyond IDEO, Brendan works as a consulting associate professor at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the d.school), where he teaches “From Play to Innovation,” a course he created, and was named the Knight Favorite Professor. He serves on the board of the National Institute for Play, a nonprofit committed to bringing the knowledge, practices, and benefits of play into public life. Brendan holds a master’s degree from the Joint Program for Design at Stanford and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State. He loves to run, hike, kite surf (with no wind), and play speed golf.
Glen Tripp, Galileo
Glen Tripp is the CEO of Galileo Learning, which he founded in 2001 to develop educational programming that develops innovators who envision and create a better world. Since then, more than 200,000 San Francisco Bay Area children have enrolled in Galileo’s camps: Camp Galileo, Galileo Summer Quest, Sally Ride Science Camp, The Tech Museum Summer Camps, and Chabot Space & Science Center Summer Camps. He graduated from Stanford University in 2002, where he got his start playing as a counselor at Stanford Sierra Camp.
Stewart Bonn, If You Can
Stewart Bonn, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of If You Can, is one of the pioneers who turned video games into a business. He joined Electronic Arts in 1983 as one of the first employees. During his 12 years he produced many of Electronic Arts’ most successful titles including innovative software for music, paint, flight simulation and children’s education while collaborating with Chuck Yeager, Timothy Leary and Children’s Television Workshop. As Senior Vice-President and General Manager of EA Studios he led the world’s largest interactive studio. He has been a Co-Founder of AnyRiver Entertainment, There, Bix, ShortForm and is an Advisor to game companies. Stewart earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley, received the 1993 Stanford Business School Entrepreneurial Company of the Year award as one of 5 EA executives, and voted Teacher Irritator, Senior Class Poll, San Mateo High School, 1968.
Ian Bernstein - Orbotix
Ian Bernstein, who grew up in rural New Mexico, has always been a tinkerer and a problem solver. As far back as he can remember he has taken apart cameras, cassette players, and other electronics to create new inventions. At the age of 12 he attended the BEAM International Robotics Games and his lifelong passion in the field of robotics was sparked. One night in late 2009 while playing with his iPhone, Ian wondered - why couldn't he use this amazing computing device he was holding in his hand to control the robots he had been building. Armed with this thought and hungry to do something big, Ian and co-founder Adam Wilson started a company, Orbotix, with the mission to create the next generation in gaming devices, specifically, interactive smartphone controlled gaming robots.
Manuel Torres - Nickelodeon
Adam Berg - LIMA
Adam Berg is the Senior Vice President of Membership and New Business Development for the International Licensing Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA). Although delighted to have joined LIMA in July of 2011 in this capacity, he has been affiliated with, and active in, the organization throughout his Licensing Industry career and was elected to its Board of Directors where he served from 1997 to 2000.
He is a Licensing Industry veteran with 25 years experience as a licensing agent working for leading industry firms Hamilton Projects and Equity Management Inc. As an agent, Mr. Berg worked on behalf of many corporate and media brands including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Jack Daniels, Hanna-Barbera, and The United States Postal Service in categories as varied and diverse as electronics, video games, housewares, and toys. During this tenure he was responsible for substantial licensing activities on an international basis, having established major licensing businesses in the European Union, Japan, Hong Kong and China.
A native of New York City, Mr. Berg holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in Montreal and a Masters of Business of Administration from Fordham University. He is an avid skier, fencer, golfer and model railroad enthusiast. He lives in Wayne, New Jersey with his wife Diane and their three sons.
Steve Castelloti - PuzzleBox
Steve Castellotti is the Founder and CEO of Puzzlebox, a technology company dedicated to transitioning cutting edge research into the hands of consumers. Of particular focus is the field of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), which uses EEG and other biosensors to operate machines, interact with software, and play games. Examples include the Puzzlebox Orbit, a brain-controlled helicopter which is flown based on detected levels of concentration and clarity of mind, helping children and adults exercise mental skills.
Steve is an advocate of open source practices and the holder of several patents as well as a Guinness World Record for BCI.
Jim Gray, Ed.D. - Jim Gray Consulting
Jim Gray is a learning technology consultant, specializing in developmentally appropriate uses of digital media with children, families, preschools, and community settings such as museums and libraries. He has been a teacher of young children, researcher of innovative learning technologies, and Director of Learning at LeapFrog Enterprises. Academic credentials include a BA in Early Childhood Education, an advanced degree in Interactive Media Design, and a doctorate of Education from Harvard. He has been an advisor to PBS KIDS Next Generation Media and Stanford University's Program in Learning, Design, and Technology. As the father of twin preschoolers, he loves inventing toys and playful learning activities for his whole family.