World Congress of Play - Speakers

We have a world of speakers scheduled for the 2014
World Congress of Play

Below you'll see a list of speakers along with their company positions and the platform they are representing at the World Congress of Play.

Björn Jeffery | Toca Boca

Co-Founder and CEO | Mobile Gaming


Björn Jeffery is the CEO and co-founder of Toca Boca, a play studio that makes digital toys for kids. Since its first product launch in 2011, Toca Boca has released 24 apps that have been downloaded in over 160 countries worldwide. With over 70 million total downloads to date, Toca Boca apps focus on stimulating kids’ imagination so that they can play and have fun in a safe digital environment.


Prior to starting Toca Boca, Jeffery was Director of Future Media & Technology at Bonnier Research & Development, where he was responsible for global research and analysis regarding consumer behavior and strategic shifts in technology. Before Bonnier, Jeffery was CEO of the strategic web agency Good Old, founder of men’s fashion site, and a journalist for Swedish outlets Göteborgs-Posten and SVT (Swedish National Television).


With offices in San Francisco and Stockholm, Toca Boca is part of The Bonnier Group, a family-owned business that includes newspapers, magazines, television, cinemas and digital media.

Meryl Neiman | Playdate Planet

Co-Founder and CEO


Meryl Neiman is Co-Founder and CEO of Playdate Planet, the web and Facebook application that fosters play by letting busy parents connect and schedule playdates online. Meryl's mission is to reverse the decline in unstructured play by convincing parents that their children need more time and opportunities for play. To that end, she speaks and writes regularly about the importance of play, 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, and has several reality TV concepts relating to play and/or toy and game inventors in circulation with production companies. 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.

Greg Ahearn | LeapFrog

Chief Marketing Officer | Learning & Entertainment


Greg Ahearn has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at LeapFrog since June 2012. Prior to joining LeapFrog, Mr.Ahearn was Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Toys "R" Us, Inc. where he was responsible for all aspects of marketing, advertising, and promotions, including strategy, media analysis, brand position, and creative services for the Toys "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, and FAO Schwartz brands in the United States. Prior to that, Mr. Ahearn also served in several other senior leadership roles for Toys "R" Us, Inc. during his tenure there from 2000 to June 2012, including Vice President of Store Merchandising and New Store Concepts for Toys "R" Us and SVP - General Manager, to joining Toys "R" Us, Mr. Ahearn was Vice President of Marketing for Hasbro, Inc.'s OddzOn toy division from 1997 to 2000 where he oversaw the development and marketing for brands such as Koosh collectibles, sport and bubbles, Vortex high-performance toy sports and Rubik's puzzles and games. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Ahearn held senior marketing positions at OddzOn Products, Inc. prior to its acquisition by Hasbro. Mr. Ahearn also previously held several brand management positions at Mattel, Inc.  Mr. Ahearn received his bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Southern California..

Manuel Torres | Nickelodeon

SVP Global Toys & Publishing | Children's Media


As Senior Vice President, Global Toys and Publishing, Nickelodeon, Manuel Torres manages the world's number-one TV-based licensing business and handles the merchandising for Nickelodeon.

Based in New York City, Torres oversees the global business operations and licensing partnerships for Nickelodeon’s toy, consumer electronic and publishing lines. Torres aligns Nickelodeon’s activities to drive new business initiatives, leverage Viacom Media Networks’ global portfolio, and create innovative and safe product offerings in a variety of categories for global consumers.

Currently, Torres manages the global master toy partnerships with the likes of Playmates Toys for the hit series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was 2013’s number-one action figure property in the U.S.;Mattel for Nickelodeon’s billion dollar franchise, Dora the Explorer, Emmy Award-winning show, Bubble Guppies and the upcoming educational preschool series, Dora and Friends; and the LEGO Group for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others.

Previously, Torres was Senior Vice President, Nickelodeon Consumer Products and Viacom Media Networks Latin America, where he was responsible for directing licensing and merchandising activities for all programming properties and brands. Torres established Viacom Media Networks Latin America Consumer Products Division out of Miami, which became the fastest growth business division, when he joined the company in 2004. Under Torres’ leadership, Backyardigans and Dora the Explorer became Fisher-Price’s fastest-growing preschool properties ever in Latin America and SpongeBob SquarePants garnered significant sustained growth.

Prior to Nickelodeon, Torres served as General Manager of Warner Bros. Consumer Products in Mexico. A native of Mexico with more than 20 years of experience in the Toy and Consumer Products Industries, Torres has also held sales, and marketing and trade marketing sales positions at Unilever Mexico and Mattel, Inc. in El Segundo, California.

Torres has been recognized by the industry for his leadership and expertise, recently elected as a member of the Toy Industry Association, Inc. Board of Directors. Torres is also a Member of the Tiger Team at the Breast Cancer Org., where he collaborates in a program to bring greater awareness of breast cancer prevention in young kids.

Chris Bensch | The Strong

Vice President Collections | Museum


In 1989, Christopher Bensch became one of the curators at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York, with responsibility for a wide array of items—furniture and cast iron cookware, record albums and televisions, Big Mac boxes and Halloween costumes. Today, Chris serves as Vice President for Collections with oversight of the museum’s curatorial, conservation, and library functions and the museum’s 400,000 objects make it the largest, most comprehensive collection of toys, games, dolls, and video games in the world.

At The Strong, Chris has acted as curator for numerous exhibits including Reading Adventureland and Field of Play, the major exhibits that opened in 2006 as part of The Strong’s $37-million expansion that doubled the size of the museum. Most recently he has overseen production of Game Time!, an exhibit about the history of games and puzzles that opened in April 2013 and his current project will produce a new Toy Hall of Fame exhibit to open in September 2015.

Chris 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. Representing the Hall of Fame, Chris has hula hooped on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” recounted the history of Slinky and Silly Putty on the Travel Channel, and appeared live on MSNBC and on ABC’s “Good Morning America Sunday.” He’s also taken part in numerous radio shows, including NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

Dan Yaccarino | Yaccarino Studio

Children's Book Artist and Author | Publishing


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.

Utku Tansel | Euromonitor International

Head of Toys & Games Research | Market Research


Utku Tansel is Head of Toys and Games at Euromonitor International. After completing his Law Degree in Istanbul and MBA in London, Utku joined Euromonitor initially as a Research Analyst in 2004. Over the past 10 years, he has been responsible managing diverse research projects covering 32 countries worldwide and for the strategic development of several industry verticals. In May 2010, he was appointed to his current role developing specialist in-depth Toys and Games knowledge and global expertise, covering traditional toys and games, video gaming and digital play.


Utku is responsible for managing the publication of market leading syndicated Toys and Games research on Euromonitor’s Passport system. With a solid market research background and enviable industry expertise Utku also regularly writes for external publications such as Global Toy News, where he is a guest blogger, focusing on most recent key trends and developments. A sought-after speaker, he also presented the “State of the Play Industry Address” at the 1st World Congress of Play in San Francisco and recently, the “Toys and Games: Key Trends Shaping Consumer Demand” at PlayCon in Phoenix highlighting some of the key findings from Euromonitor International’s latest global research on toys, games and play.

Mark Palatucci Ph.D. | Anki

Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer | Artificial Intelligence


Mark wants to create products that truly surprise and excite people. Before co-founding Anki, Mark was the founding-CEO and principal engineer at Copera, an embedded systems and mobile software company. Prior to that, Mark held engineering and research positions at Google and Intel. He earned a B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania and both a M.S. and Ph.D. from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Mark finds that flying airplanes gives him a thrilling excuse not to check his email.

John Barbour | LeapFrog

CEO | Learning & Entertainment


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, 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.

Michael Laris | Playworld Systems

Director of Product Development | Playground


Growing up in the hills and beaches of Santa Barbara California, Michael never dreamed that he might one day be an Architect of Play. But after and degree in Architecture, several kids, 20 years in Denmark, and a Landscape Architect wife, that is what he has become. And he loves it.

His journey with Play has led him to Playworld where he is Director of Product Development and Strategies. Playworld is second largest play equipment provider in the USA, but that's not it. Playworld is still family owned, its honest, and has deep integrity. And the company is devoted to “The World Needs Play” – not as a luxury nor entertainment, but as a critical component to child development.

Before arriving at Playworld, Michael was the Concept and Design Manager for Kompan. Kompan is the world largest and was the innovation leader of playground equipment. During his 15 years there, Michael and his design team won several international design awards, including awards in USA, Germany, Japan, Denmark, France, and Australia.

Michael also has a passion to share play which has led him to work as a mentor for students from several design schools (most closely with the Child Culture Design Department of HDK, Gothenburg Sweden), to author a chapter in the book Children’s Spaces, and to travel to Mali to erect play equipment with the MALI KALANSO project at a new school in the village of Nienballe . 

Lindsay Gaskins | Marbles: The Brain Store

CEO | Retail


Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store, has over 10 years of retail experience in retail, first as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and then as a corporate strategy member and buyer at Sears Holdings Corporation.  At BCG, Lindsay worked with a premier direct to consumer specialty retailer and a high end fashion brand. At Sears, Lindsay worked on strategic initiatives in the toy and kids categories but spent the majority of her time in the Home area- ending her career there as the buyer for Fashion and Kids Bedding and Sheets. After Sears, Lindsay joined Sandbox Industries, a venture capital firm, where she led a team to take Marbles: The Brain Store from paper to reality with the first store in the fall of 2008.  They now operate 28 stores across the country with a growing ecommerce presence and product development arm, The Brain Workshop.  She holds a degree in Economics from Wesleyan University, is a certified high school teacher, and has 2 young kids (Lulu and Frances) with her wife Laura.  In 2011, she was named to Crain’s Business 40 under 40 list.   

Darran Garnham | Mind Candy

Chief Business Development Officer | Digital Entertainment


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.

Beth Rogozinski | TransmediaSF

Founder | Transmedia


Beth Rogozinski is a serial entrepreneur, author, instructor and transmedia producer. She was on the founding team of the world renowned Multimedia Studies Program at SFSU and was the Executive Director of the DigiQuest Learning Center.


Beth previously worked with Silicon Graphics (SGI), 3Ware and Macromedia. She was a founder of Systrum Media Consultants, Signal 2 Productions and D2S Games. She has helped produce and publish more than 30 casual games and apps and is an advisor to many start-ups such as Grimm Bros Games, Ponga, Digify, Major League Wizardry and the Mobile Monday Momentum Accelerator. Beth was recently named Chief Content Officer for an eHealth company, Pear Therapeutics, where she creates and curates interactive digital content for treating CNS disorders, including psychiatry, neurology and pain. Through Transmedia SF, an agency/studio, Beth consults on multi-screen, multi-modal communications and entertainment and also develops and produces original transmedia storyworlds. Her current original projects include The Future of Entertainment and Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond.

Michael M. Patte, Ph.D. | Bloomsburg University

PhD Professor of Education | Play Educator and Researcher


Michael Patte is a professor of education at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania where he prepares undergraduate and graduate students for careers in the field of education. During his 20-year career he developed a keen interest in promoting, preserving, and protecting the child’s right to play. Dr. Patte has shared his play scholarship through publications, international and national conference presentations, and advocacy projects. He is a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar, Co-editor of the International Journal of Play, board member of the International Council for Children’s Play, and Past President of The Association for the Study of Play – the premier professional organization in academia dedicated to interdisciplinary research and theory construction concerning play. His recent books include:


Patte, M.M., & Sutterby, J. (2015). Play & culture studies, volume 13: Celebrating 40 years of play research: Reflecting on our past, exploring the present, and playing into the future. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.


Roopnarine, J., Patte, M.M., Johnson, J.E., & Kuschner, D. (2014). International perspectives on children’s play. London: Open University Press.


Brown, F. & Patte, M.M. (2013). Rethinking Children’s Play. London: Continuum Press.


Vikas Gupta | play-i

Founder and CEO | Robotics


Vikas is the co-founder and CEO of Play-i. Play-i builds delightful robots every child can learn to program with. Play-i aims to make coding accessible and fun for every child, even children as young as 5 years old. Previously, Vikas spent a lifetime at Amazon, where he led Web services initiatives. After Amazon, Vikas founded Social Gold, an online virtual currency and payments platform, that was acquired by Google. Vikas was Google's Head of Consumer payments until 2012, when he left to take time off with his family. Vikas founded Play-i in late 2012.

David Merrill | 3D Robotics

VP of Product | 


David is currently VP of Product at 3D Robotics, where he works on new consumer products - flying robots!

He was formerly president and co-founder of Sifteo, a San Francisco startup spun out of research at the MIT Media Lab that built an award-winning physical+digital play system and games. At Sifteo David was keeper of company vision, technical innovator, and communicator in chief - he directed HW and SW on Sifteo products.

David constantly tinkers with next-generation technologies to make physical+digital tools that give people new powers. 

He is a TED speaker, HCI expert, and Drone enthusiast. David's work has been featured by MoMA, the Discovery Channel, Popular Science and Wired. 

DJ Sures | EZ-Robot

Founder | Robotics


Servos, 3D Printing, Vision Tracking Cameras and Robot Controllers? Robotics should be easy! After all, it is the future technology of the younger generation. This inspired DJ Sures, founder of EZ-Robot Inc., to create a fun and educational product-line of robot bits which inspire children and adults to build robots with features inspired from science fiction.

Michael Carter | Twin Learning LLC

Consultant | Learning & Technology Services


Dr Michael P Carter is an independent consultant specializing in strategy, design and development of learning solutions based on emerging technology, particularly when they involve games. He currently advises game projects in the US and Europe on rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury victims and international project management and startups particularly focused on literacy and early learning. He directed education research in Apple's advanced technology group; produced Oxford, Stanford and Yale's online offerings to their alumni; and edited and published research on digital media and learning with the MIT Press. He has designed and produced games for kids and grownups about history, science, mathematics, storytelling, and ecology.

Harry Chang | Li & Fung Ltd.

Executive Vice President | Investing


Harry is an Executive Vice President of LF Products, one of the principal wholesale subsidiaries of Li & Fung Limited, a renowned global supply chain manager for consumer products.  He currently manages Techno Source, a division charged with developing fun, innovative products for kids and families, and Black Cat Marketing (USA), which is the marketing agent for the USA’s oldest and best known brand of consumer fireworks.  During his 19-year career with Li & Fung, Harry has managed successful turnarounds of a number of operating divisions, and is an entrepreneurial leader who builds high performance, collegial teams.  He started with the company as an investment manager of the corporate venture capital fund, making strategic investments in U.S. consumer products companies that could leverage Li & Fung’s global sourcing network.  His prior experience includes consulting with Coopers & Lybrand and auditing with Deloitte Haskins & Sells.  In addition to a B.A. from Yale, Harry has an M.S. from New York University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

Colin Crook | Knock Twice

Partner | Communications


Colin has spent the past 15 years creating, implementing, and executing marketing and communications programs across all mediums. An early member of the The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox marketing team, Colin helped build the browser into a community and commercial success, on narratives steeped in a more secure, free, web.

Colin lead the PR team that launched Sifteo, an innovative and award winning digital play company and also works with Sphero, a leader in connected toys. He has worked across all types of play, search, analytics, big data, and consumer electronics companies.

In his spare time Colin enjoys bowling, playing in high stakes poker tournaments, and spending time with his 2 year-old son Eli, and wife Jennifer, a high school math teacher.

Sally McConnell | KaBOOM!

Vice President, External Affairs | Playground


Sally McConnell is the Vice President of External Affairs at KaBOOM! , the non-profit dedicated to ensuring that all children get the active play they need to become healthy and successful adults. She leads the communications, marketing, cause marketing, digital strategy and research efforts.


Prior to working with KaBOOM! Sally served as the Director of Strategic Communications at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation where she oversaw public affairs, institutional partnerships, marketing, brand management, digital engagement and product development. Sally co-founded French County living, a multi-channel home furnishing brand that she grew into the largest direct seller in its category. She also worked as the director of grassroots lobbying for Common Cause after graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University. She currently lives in Washington, DC, and Williamsburg, Virginia, and spends as much time riding her bike as she possibly can.  

Gwen Gordon | Now Playing

Producer/Director | Television


Gwen Gordon began a life of play designing and building Muppets for Sesame Street. She left the “Street” to join an Apple research group at the MIT Media Lab where she designed furry computer playstations for children. Gwen has been an artist-in-residence in settings ranging from Xerox PARC to San Quentin Prison and is a pioneer in the field of adult transformative play, publishing and teaching widely on the subject. She has applied her insights about play to the design of programs for groups ranging from life coaches to TSA security officers, from corporations to prisons, and for popular films including “What the Bleep Do We Know?!,” “The Story of Stuff,” “THRIVE,” “SPLIT.”  Gwen sports an Emmy Award for the PBS pilot, Kids, Cash, and Common Cents and is currently producing NOW Playing, a PBS documentary series about play.

Mary Couzin | Chicago Toy & Game Group

CEO & Founder | Toy and Game, Inventor Advocacy


Mary Couzin is CEO and Founder of the Chicago Toy & Game Group, which includes: PlayCHIC Toy Inspired Fashion Show, Int’l Summit for Professional Inventors, Int’l Toy & Game Inventor Conference, Inventor Relations Summit, Toy & Game Inventor of the Year Awards, Chicago Toy & Game Fair (public facing fair), Games for Educators, Young Inventor Challenge and more fun events promoting the importance of play through fashion, inventors of all ages, media events and direct to consumer events. The closest analogy would be the ‘SXSW’ of Play.


Years ago, after inventing, self-producing and licensing a few games, she founded, a co-op of inventors, to help them break into the business. Passionate about making learning more fun and effective, she partnered with Live Oak Games on their Games in Education website and newsletter reaching over 178,000 educators monthly. In addition, ChiTAG Group publishes newsletters reaching over 50,000 people to the industry, the inventing community and to consumers. She also writes for ASTRA’s Discover the WooHoo Factor consumer newsletter and has partnered with ASTRA on inventor manufacturer sessions as part of their MarketPlace and Academy. She hosts get-togethers annually at NYTF and ASTRA as well as in cities all over the States, Canada and overseas. A collaborator at heart, she is always looking to connect people and create win-wins. The media often quotes her as she is active in both traditional and social media.


She serves on TIA's TOTY Nominating and PlayCon Committees, is a Selection Committee Member at National Toy Hall of Fame, writes for Global Toy News and has been honored as Women in Toys Entrepreneur of the Year, Global Toys Person of the Year, Judge in the DevelopHer Toy & Game Challenge and most recently as a Woman Driving Excellence at the Chicago Auto Show.


Mary received a BBA from the University of Notre Dame and a MBA from Loyola University. She is active in local politics having served on City Council, Park Board, Sculpture Committee, Zoning Board and Plan Commission and is a past United Way Board Member.

Darell Hammond | KaBOOM!

Founder and CEO | Playground


Darell Hammond is the founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, the national non-profit dedicated to ensuring all kids get the balanced and active play they need to thrive. With more than 20 years of experience in community development, Hammond has been named an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Hammond has also earned numerous awards for his leadership in improving kids’ lives, including the American Express NGen Leadership Award presented by Independent Sector, the Satter Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2011, Hammond released a New York Times best-selling memoir, KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play and was named one of the Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs by Forbes Magazine.

Robin Raskin | Living in Digital Times

Founder | Technology


Robin Raskin is founder of Living in Digital Times (LIDT), a team of technophiles who bring together the most knowledgeable leaders and the latest innovations impacting both technology and lifestyle. LIDT produces conferences, exhibits and events at International CES and other locations throughout the year with a focus on how technology enhances every aspect of our lives, including the Kids@Play Summit, MommyTech Summit and MommyTech TV.  An author, editor, magazine publisher, blogger, TV and radio personality, Raskin has spent the past 30 years exploring what it means to be living in digital times. She lives in NYC and the Hudson Valley, with her husband, her three drop in now and then children, and closets full of obsolete technology. 

Christoper Byrne | TTPM

Content Director | Media


Chris is a 30-plus-year veteran of the toy industry. Currently, he is a partner in aNb Media, LLC and content director for TTPM ( During his career, he has held a variety of positions with toy companies covering marketing, media, operations, product development and creative. In 1988, he formed New York-based Byrne Communications and is a researcher, analyst and consultant who has worked with a variety of Fortune 100 companies tracking kid trends, product development and strategic marketing campaigns. He is regularly sourced by the investment community for insights into all aspects of the toy and children's products industries. He speaks at trade shows and for corporate events on the effective integration of play into creative management.


Chris is widely published on the topic of toys and family life and in addition to his work with Time to Play he is editor-at-large for the trade publications Toys & Family Entertainment and Royalties.


His latest book, "Toy Time" was published by the Three Rivers imprint of Random House in October, 2013, and his next book, "Serious Fun: An Introduction to the U.S. Toy Industry" is due out from Business Experts Press in early 2014.


In addition, Chris is widely quoted in the media and appears regularly on local and national television commenting on toys and demonstrating new products. His media appearances reached more than 120 million consumers in 2012 in just a three-month period (October through December). He has appeared on Live! With Kelly & Michael, Oprah, Soap Talk, Today, Good Morning America, The CBS Evening News, ABC Nightly News, FOX News, CBS This Morning, Good Day New York, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, The Motley Fool, National Public Radio, Bloomberg Television and Radio, and on countless other national and local market business and consumer programs around the country and internationally.


In addition to his work in the toy industry, Chris is involved in several non-profit organizations benefiting children and literacy.

David Zlotnik | McDonald's Corporation
Director, Global Marketing |


As Director of Global Marketing at McDonald’s, David is part of the team that drives the Family Business for the McDonald’s 35,000 restaurants around the world.

David recently led the development and relaunch of Ronald McDonald’s new Mission and clothing makeover to show how fun makes great things happen. On a daily basis, David oversees and manages the Ronald McDonald brand around the world to drive fun and engagement with customers, families and the young-­‐at-­‐heart.

In addition, David develops strategies and campaigns to support McDonald’s long-­‐standing commitment to children’s
well-­‐being.This includes a range of global play and activity programs over the years tied to major blockbuster properties such as DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 2 Happy Meal called “One Minute to Move It” and the London 2012 Olympic Games called “Champions of Play.”


David is also responsible for the advancement of responsible marketing practices and menu initiatives to encourage
kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. He played an integral role with McDonald’s recent partnership with the
Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Global Initiative. He also plays an important role engaging with
3rd party stakeholder experts, organizations, and coalitions. For many years, David led McDonald’s Global Advisory
Council comprised of nutritionists, physicians and academics that help inform McDonald’s on a variety of initiatives.

Prior to joining McDonald’s in Fall 2006, David was an Account Director at DDB Chicago leading advertising strategy
and development for the US Menu Management business. While at DDB, David helped McDonald’s test and launch
its Premium Roast Coffee, McSkillet Burrito and McCafe Specialty Coffees.

A graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, David also holds an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago.
David has appeared on “The Today Show” and has been featured in Ad Age, Crain’s Chicago Business and

Hugo Malan | Sears Holdings Corporation

Senior Vice President and President, Sporting Goods and Toys | Retail


Hugo Malan is senior vice president and president of Fitness, Sporting Goods & Toys for Sears Holdings Corporation. In this position, Hugo is responsible for the continued growth of the Fitness, Sporting Goods and Toys businesses across both the Kmart and Sears formats, in store and online.


Prior to this role, Hugo held the title of Managing Director at Barclays Capital and at Lehman Brothers.  Before Lehman he served as Associate Principal with McKinsey & Company, and previously he worked as an IT Consultant with Imagine Broadband, an Accenture venture company in the UK.


Hugo earned a Ph.D. from University of Cambridge, UK in E&E engineering and holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Mike Gonzales | Weta Workshop

Head of Consumer Products | Cinema, Collectables and Publishing


Mike brings 20 years of experience in both the creative, digital and retail fields.

Working with some of the top names in the game industry, Mike created worlds and designed game play for companies including Atari, 3DO, Crystal Dynamics, Angel Studios and Rockstar. His development career has spanned every console from the Sega Genesis up to the Xbox360 as 3D Artist and Game designer.


After working in the corporate gaming world, Mike started his own company, consulting for companies such as BunkSpeed, Honda Motor Corporation and Atari before joining the innovative toy company, Wow Wee in 2006. As Creative Director in California and Hong Kong, Mike developed groundbreaking titles like TriBot, Paper Jamz, Light Strikes and AppGear; generating over $90 million in sales.  


Leveraging the creative and digital innovation as well as retail experience, Mike joined Microsoft’s 343 Industries as Creative Director for the billion dollar Halo franchise. His responsibilities included the creative vision and management for the Halo consumer products program. The end goal was to create new digital initiatives to connect the players, collectors and fans back into the Halo ecosystem.


Currently, Mike is Head of Consumer Products at Weta Workshop. Although best known for the company's design and effects work on award-winning film projects, including Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong, Avatar, District 9, Elysium and The Hobbit, Weta Workshop offers services to all creative industries throughout the world and offers collectibles made by the artists that create the movie magic. Mike leads the development of new entertainment licenses and opportunities in the physical and digital mediums as well as building Weta’s increasingly successful collectible and publishing business.

Gerrick Johnson | BMO Capital Markets Equity Research Group

Analyst | Research


Gerrick is an analyst in BMO Capital Markets Equity Research Group, covering the toy industry. Before becoming an analyst in 2006, Gerrick was an associate in the equity research department covering the toy industry and specialty retail companies from 2001 to 2006. Prior to joining BMO Capital Markets in 2001, he worked at Bankers Trust from 1995 to 2001 in the portfolio management division.

Gerrick holds an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business and earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wake Forest University.

Julia Rousakis | Architectural Playground Equipment, Inc.

Co-Founder | Play Advocacy


Julia Rousakis has a decade of experience developing projects that bring together nature, history, science, and fun. She has consulted on diverse environments for play and learning including Eco.Experience at the Carnegie Science Center, Discover Liberty! at the Statue of Liberty, and PlayLab—a project to foster everyday science learning through play. With Jane Clark Chermayeff & Associates (JCC&A), Julia facilitated the 2013 symposium “Child in the City of Play,” an interdisciplinary exploration of play in urban environments organized with the Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with the exhibition Center of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000.


In 2010 she helped launch Architectural Playground Equipment, Inc. (APE) with Jane Clark Chermayeff. As an emerging leader in both the play advocacy and design communities, APE is working to change the landscape of play in America so that all children have access to a play area that challenges them, inspires them, and helps them to grow into self-determined individuals. APE projects include the Science Playground at the New York Hall of Science, the Pier 6 playground at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Children’s Adventure Garden at the Morton Arboretum, Shelby Farms Park Woodland Discovery Playground in Memphis, and the forthcoming playground at Maggie Daley Park adjacent to Millennium Park in Chicago, among other playscapes in the U.S. and Canada. At APE, Julia oversees all aspects of project management from initial inquiries, to design consultation and installation follow-through.


Julia came to play through an interest in visitor experiences at museums. Prior to joining JCC&A in 2004, she was a journalist and writer for museums, covering topics that range from volcanoes and forest fires to Egyptian art and the design of the Freedom Tower. She is an award-winning reporter and a former editor of Scholastic News classroom magazines. Julia received both a B.A. in Middle East Studies and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Donna Friedman Meir | Lemonade Creative Consulting

President | Kids Media Consultant & Entrepeneur



Donna Friedman Meir is the principal and founder of LEMONADE Creative Consulting, a strategic consulting firm focused on building cross-media experiences for kids and families. She is also the founder of GLOBO, an immersive, multi-sensory play and learning environment designed to WOW kids with the wonder and beauty of the planet, its sights, cultures and people.
An accomplished brand builder, producer, programmer and marketer of children's media content, her career has been dedicated to creating inspiring entertainment experiences for children across multiple platforms and for a global audience.
Prior to launching Lemonade and GLOBO, Donna was President of National Geographic Kids Entertainment and held senior executive positions with the WB Television Network and Nickelodeon. Her career accomplishments include leading Kids' WB! to the #1 ratings position on Saturday mornings for four straight years and ten consecutive sweeps victories, helping to build the first transmedia megabrand, Pokemon, and its successor, Yu-gi-oh!, producing several critically acclaimed and Emmy- nominated TV series for National Geographic, and successfully leading brand strategy, marketing, and early new business efforts for Nickelodeon's first international channels.
Donna is a Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude graduate of Harvard University, and was named one of top 25 most powerful women in television by Electronic Media Magazine in 2002.
A bit of a globetrotter, Donna recently moved back to the Bay Area with her husband and two adventurous children.


Paul Berberian | Sphero

CEO | Smart Toys & Robotics


Paul Berberian is an experienced chief executive and entrepreneur who has founded and run seven high-tech companies over the last 18 years. In 2010 he became the CEO of Boulder based Orbotix. Orbotix are the creators of Sphero, an app-controlled robotic ball that is a completely new type of game system.

Paul is the former CEO and co-founder of Raindance Communications (NASDAQ: RNDC), a web and phone conferencing services company acquired by West Corporation in 2006. Before founding Raindance, he was co-founder and CEO of LINK-VTC, a video teleconferencing company, which was sold in 1995 to Frontier Communications. Paul is a distinguished graduate of the US Air Force Academy.

Harold Moss | FlickerLab

Founder and Creative Directort | Animation & Technology


Harold Moss is the founder and Creative Director of transmedia creation studio FlickerLab, which fuses animation and technology expertise to develop, create and distribute new forms of content and new platforms. This fall, FlickerLab is launching Animgram, the world’s first animated messaging system, which allows users to send fully animated messages with their voice and a couple of taps. Animgram grows out of FlickerLab’s digital animation creation and publishing system, which includes user-generated content tools, a cross platform digital publishing environment, and a broadcast quality real-time animation toolset.


In its fifteen years, FlickerLab has created thousands of hours of award-winning transmedia content for broadcast, learning systems, film and cross-platform distribution, as well as hundreds of games, apps and interactive e-books for global media brands including PBS, BBC, HBO, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central.

Mary Cheever | Insight Kids

Research Associate | Play Research


Having grown up in Mister Rogers' neighborhood, Mary’s passion for children’s media began at a young age. Since then, she has had significant experience in production, research, social media, and marketing, all of which come together to inform her current work at Insight. Prior to Insight, she worked as Brand Marketing Associate at PBS KIDS, where she developed product offerings and grew public awareness of their online shop.


A creative and outgoing people-person, Mary loves working with both clients and subjects on a personal level. Curious and methodical, she enjoys the research process from beginning to end, and takes pride in providing thoughtful, informative, and impactful feedback.  Mary’s research has taken her all over the world (most recently to Shanghai and London), and has impacted kids’ clients like Hasbro, DreamWorks Animation, and Nickelodeon. 


Academic Experience:

•Master of Education, Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University

•Bachelor of Arts, Film Studies and Children’s Literature, University of Pittsburgh

Susan Magsamen |  John Hopkins University & Curiosityville

Brain Science Institute |


Susan is a learning expert and award-winning writer with over 30 years of experience creating programs that bring academic research to practice. Susan ‘s work recognized as fostering and enhancing the ways we learn, play, create, and grow as individuals, families and communities.


Susan’s approach to creating effective and impactful learning, at home, in school and in the community, combines interdisciplinary evidence-based research with practical, applicable approaches.   She brings together neuroscientists, educators, parents, psychologists, advocates, policy makers, educational and popular media and others to share their perspectives on critical topics including early learning, education, family life, creativity, cognitive development and more.

Laura Seargeant Richardson | Argo Design

Creative Director | Design & Play Advocacy


Laura is currently a Creative Director at argo design and spent more than a decade at frog design, an innovation consultancy. She has been involved in game creation with teens, the role of technology in classrooms and the creation of new product ideas with children. She believes play is the greatest natural resource in a creative economy. Laura is on a mission to increase policy makers', public schools' and parents' value of play and to ultimately empower kids to be designers of their own play. Her Periodic Table of 21st Century Play was recently featured in Fast Co. Design. Laura has also written for Parents Magazine (The Future of Play), The Atlantic (Play Power: How To Turn Around Our Creativity Crisis) and Fast Co. Design (The Four Secrets of Playtime That Foster Creative Kids and Turning Game Design Into Child's Play). Her Fast Co. Design article garnered a nod as one of the "Best Innovation Essays in 2010." Laura has also keynoted at INPlay Toronto and MIT's Sandbox Summit and spoken at Playcon and YPulse MegaMashup as well as local schools. She has been interviewed on the topics of play, creativity and technology by Forbes, Forrester, CNN and MIT’s Technology Review. She has called for a National Proclamation of Play by the President recognizing play's value at the national level. She has also served as a toy and game evaluator and consults with schools on play power in 21st century education. Laura has a Masters in Human Computer Interaction and a ten-year old daughter who already considers herself a designer

Benjamin Kwitek, Phd | Gellyfish Technology

President & CEO | Technology


Benjamin Kwitek is an entrepreneur, inventor and investor from Colorado. He currently serves as the President and CEO of Gellyfish Technology. He also helps lead Bullet Proof Technology, InterForm Incorporated and Papernomad GmbH. Many world-class companies including Acer, Dell, Herman Miller, Lenovo, Pentel and Sony have licensed his ideas.


He holds degrees and honors from Colorado State University and the University of Colorado. In 2005, he completed his Ph.D. at Colorado State University where his research, entitled Driving Economic Development, looked at partnerships between colleges and high-tech businesses. He has further studied innovation and intellectual property at Harvard Business School.


Benjamin has appeared in BMW Magazine, Digital Trends, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Rhapsody, Robb Report and newspapers across America. He teaches business and economics at Pueblo Community College. He has lectured on patents and recently joined the Advisory Board of IP2 at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.


He enjoys performance car driving, mountain hiking and tennis. He frequently travels throughout Europe and Asia looking for new investment opportunities.

Phil Sage | Hasbro

Senior Director of Global Product Acquisition & Inventor Relations |


A toy designer, tinkerer, technologist, and big bang inventor, Phil Sage is Hasbro’s Senior Director of Global Product Acquisition & Inventor Relations (a title not easily translated to Furbish). Phil’s inventive talents were visible at a young age: he hacked RC cars, extracting their motors, bonding plastic panels, fishing wire & 9-volt batteries … into elaborate masking tape-bound lawnmowers. His passion for rugby (a smash-tastic game played by gentlemen) fueled a steep learning curve in outdoor physical play, while digital curiosity, fired up via consoles including Commodore, SEGA, and Nintendo. This mash-up of interests indicated future career talents and certainly molded a unique Welshman! Later, Phil graduated with a first class honors science degree in Product Design from Swansea Metropolitan University and a Master of Design from Middlesex University, UK.


His early experiences laid the building blocks (wait for the pun) entering the industry with a position at LEGO in Denmark and, soon after, an Action Man-like journey … as part of Hasbro’s UK R&D engine room, working across all toy and game segments, all age groups, fusing technology and executing developments with global brand teams. Integral to futuring Hasbro’s business, he structured global technology acquisition from the bottom up, innovating new business models aligned with the glide-path of the industry. Relocating to Rhode Island, Phil refocused his energy towards wider networks, harnessing the true value of global innovators, experts and creative resources, empowering Hasbro in the process. His reward speaks volumes, delivering incremental growth, connecting the world’s best opportunities with Hasbro’s R&D & marketing partners … spicing up Hasbro’s future with the same passion, hands-on approach he used in his homemade lawnmower days.


David McKillips | Six Flags Entertainment

Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances | Theme Parks


David is responsible for overseeing Six Flags Entertainment’s partnership marketing, sponsorship and licensing efforts for the Six Flags Entertainment Company.  With 18 theme parks in North America, McKillips and his team work collaboratively with partners to develop effective programs that drive brand impressions, live entertainment events, retail marketing incentives and experiential benefits.   Prior to joining Six Flags, McKillips served as Vice President of Sales at DC Comics, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.  He started his career with Busch Entertainment, serving roles within the operations, entertainment, group sales and promotions departments at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.  McKillips holds a B.A. degree in Speech Communication from the University of Georgia.

John Coyne |  Activision

Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing | Video Games


From an early age, John knew he was really skilled at one thing in particular – play.  Eventually he parlayed his mastery of play into a full-fledged career and has since worked on some of the most iconic toy and game franchises of all time.


Throughout his career, John has endeavored to approach the business of play as both a science and an art with a focus on what it means for a toy to be interesting, engaging and most importantly, fun for kids.  In his current role as the senior vice president of consumer marketing at Activision Publishing, Inc., John is a visionary member of the leadership team who launched one of the world’s most beloved kids’ video game franchises, Skylanders.  Today, Skylanders has proven to be a critical and commercial success in the marketplace, demonstrating how the marriage of virtual and physical play captured the imaginations of kids in a new way.


Prior to his role crafting the beginnings of the Toys-to-Life video game category, Coyne evolved his expertise on the subject of play in the Toy and Entertainment industry for more than 15 years. Having launched and managed leading brands across the globe like Mattel, Scrabble, Fisher Price, Hot Wheels and more, Coyne solidified his path towards paving the way for the future of video games. In 2009, Coyne joined Activision, working on titles such as Call of Duty, BLUR and Tony Hawk, ultimately leading to his place at the epicenter of the Toys-to-Life category with Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure in October 2011.  Skylanders has since made an indelible impact on not only the future of the toy and video game industries, but also the boundaries of what it means to play.

Bob Moog | University Games

Game Inventor & Co-Founder | Play Advocacy


Game Inventor

Bob Moog developed the Murder Mystery Party line of games in 1985 and his career as a board game creator was launched.  Since that time, he has developed more than 120 game and toy products that have sold more than 40 million units. These games include the best selling geography game line, Carmen Sandiego, the first line of games based on Dr. Seuss books, including The Green Eggs and Ham Games, 20 Questions and Totally Gross, the Game of Science.


Award Winner

Moog’s inventions are marketed by University Games, a top U.S. game and puzzle manufacturer.  The company has won dozens of U.S. and international awards from Dr. Toy, Oppenheimer, Parent’s Choice and Family Fun Magazine.  University Games has been honored with a number of Game of the Year awards in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands.



In addition to inventing games, Moog has authored more than a dozen game playable books.  These brain teasers and mystery books are marketed under the Spinner Books, Made You Laugh, and Ballbusters series titles.


Moog is an Expert in the U.S. Toy Industry

In 1998, Mr. Moog founded, the largest game and puzzle store on the planet, with over 3,500 different games and puzzles. Cited by Forbes in Fall 2000 as one of the Top 5 “Best of the Web” sites for toys.


Moog hosted a syndicated weekly radio show, “Games People Play” on CBS radio for more than a decade.  He now regularly appears on more than 80 stations across the country during the holiday season.  He has lectured in small business and entrepreneurial classes for the M.B.A. program at Golden Gate University and Stanford University.

Russ H. Crupnick | NPD Group

Industry Analyst | Consumer-Entertainment Trends


Russ Crupnick, continues his work as a consultant for NPD, where he developed an international reputation for his insights into consumer-entertainment trends – from music to video to gaming. In 2012, Russ added toys to his coverage area, and he has since been immersed in understanding how technology, a changing consumer target, and shifting retail trends are affecting this industry.


Russ appears regularly as a commentator for major broadcast news outlets, and has been extensively quoted on industry trends in print and online media. He is a regularly featured speaker at conferences including MusicBiz (NARM), Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), Digital Media Wire, Canadian Music Week and PlayCon.


Russ is Executive-In-Residence at the NYU Steinhardt Music Business Graduate Program where he lectures on marketing strategy, pricing practices and forecasting. He is a 2009 alumnus of Nashville’s prestigious Leadership Music program. In 2013 Russ was honored by the RIAA with a Platinum Record for service to the music industry.


Kenny Davis | Hasbro

Senior Director of Global Marketing |


A native-creative at his core, Kenny Davis is passionate about inspiring and enabling creativity and brings more than 20 years of insight and experience in leading creative teams, and developing and marketing children's entertainment brands


In his current position as Hasbro’s Senior Director, Global Marketing, Kenny is charged with launching new brands and furthering Hasbro’s innovation pipeline.  Kenny’s most recent brand launch, SuperFanArt, offers super-fans of select Hasbro brands a license to create 3D-printable art using those brands and the ability to sell their creations to other super fans.  Prior to SuperFanArt, Kenny re-launched Furby for a new generation of digital natives in Fall 2012.  The latest Furby is a huggable robotic friend who – with enough love and attention – will lay eggs on your iPad, which hatch into Furblings. 


Entrepreneurial by nature, Kenny has launched other brands prior to his tenure at Hasbro including Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure,, and Bakugan.  Kenny co-founded a chain of fitness centers in Los Angeles called Circuit Works; and prior to business school at UCLA, wrote and produced children’s television shows.



Denise Chapman Weston | Apptivations

Creator |


Denise Chapman Weston is a professional Playologist. Since the age of seven, she has been inventing magical experiences and bringing dreams to life. After graduating with a Master’s, she became a specialized play therapist working for fifteen years with families of deaf and autistic children. Denise co-wrote three books teaching parents how to use play to solve their children’s challenges. She then transformed her skills of play and storytelling into entertainment on a larger scale consulting for companies such as Hasbro, Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios, and other large amusement companies.


Denise co-owns over forty-five (and still growing) patents on family interactive attractions, toys, and technology. MagiQuest, an interactive, live adventure game is one of her favorite actual-reality accomplishments. Slideboarding, a mash of Guitar Hero and waterpark slides is her most recent invention as a partner at Whitewater West, one of the largest manufacturers in the amusement industry.


Her latest playful passion is to deliver a new form of storytelling using a digital device.  Coming out on early September, is her first ebook called The Memory Machine—a dual perspective story that includes, audio, video, interactive illustrations, comic books, imagery, hyperlinks, social media and augmented reality. Her next project, The Longings, is her most ambitious Melted-Media story and play world yet, bringing virtual-to-live world building to a younger generation while teaching kids of all ages the art of invention.

Denise now lives in Rhode Island with her three children and a home filled with imaginative steampunk art and characters of her creation.

Joan Steinberg | Morgan Stanley

Managing Director | Strategic Planning and Philanthropy


After nine years in the nonprofit sector, Joan joined Morgan Stanley in 1997 and currently oversees Morgan Stanley’s global philanthropic programs, including strategic planning and execution, employee engagement, and corporate and Foundation grantmaking totaling more than $90 million annually.   Since joining the Firm, Joan has more than quadrupled the company’s giving; created programs for more than 50,000 employees; and expanded the Firm’s geographic outreach so that more communities could be served.  She currently also oversees the Firm’s global alumni relations programs.


She earned her undergraduate degree in English and Communications and her masters degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University.  Joan has also earned

certificates in corporate citizenship from Harvard Business School and Boston College.


In addition to her position at the Firm, Joan is active in her community, serving currently as an Executive Committee member of the Children’s Advisory Council of New York Presbyterian Hospital, as a Board member of Philanthropy New York and Vice Chair of the SIFMA Foundation Board; a member of the Leadership Committee of the Children’s Health Fund, and the Corporate Advisory Council of the National American Red Cross.  Previously she also served as the Program Officer and President of the Contributions Advisory Group.   In 2001, she was inducted into the Academy of Women Achievers by the YWCA of New York City and her programs have been recognized by the US Chamber of Commerce US Community Service Award.

Jordan Shapiro, M.A. | Temple University

Intellectual Heritage Department


Jordan Shapiro was a professional chef and successful restaurateur for many years before he realized he wasn't living in a way that modeled the kind of life he wanted for his two sons. He sold the restaurant and studied Jungian/Archetypal psychology, philosophy, and phenomenology. Now, he teaches in Temple University's Intellectual Heritage Department. He's an expert on game-based education and digital learning. His internationally celebrated writing on education, parenting, and game-based learning can be found on He is the parent of two boys (six and eight years old) and the lead administrator at Project Learn School (an independent cooperative K-8 school in Philadelphia).


And he's an author, speaker, and organizational facilitator. His most recent book FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide To Maximum Euphoric Bliss, considers how the games we play in our youth shape our adult lives.



Nancy Zwiers | Funosophy, Inc.



Nancy Zwiers is CEO and Chief Funosopher of Funosophy, Inc., a leading brand-building consulting and invention firm in the youth entertainment and toy industries. Founded in 2000, Funosophy conducts extensive research with kids and has advised over 150 clients ranging from start-ups to the biggest players like Mattel, Hasbro, Disney, Nickelodeon, Leapfrog, Spin Master, and more.   The name Funosophy® was coined by Zwiers to mean “the wisdom of fun.”


Prior to founding Funosophy, Zwiers held top executive positions with Mattel, the #1 toy company in the world. As Senior Vice President, Zwiers headed global marketing for Mattel’s $2 billion Barbie® doll brand and presided over a period of record growth.  As SVP/General Manager of the Girls Toys division, Zwiers resurrected several declining brands, including Polly Pocket and Cabbage Patch. 


With over 24 years in the youth entertainment space, Zwiers has deep expertise in motivating youth by tapping into their biologically-based “play drive.” A proponent of “neoteny,” Zwiers also spotlights the benefits of playfulness for adults who want to “grow young.”  An industry thought leader, Zwiers is a regular contributor to consumer and trade publications and conferences.


In 2012, Zwiers was a finalist and only female nominee for the TAGIE award for Excellence in Toy Design.  Zwiers is the only two-time winner of the Wonder Women in Toys awards (Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005 and Inventor of the Year in 2013).  She is founding chair of the Women in Toys’ Mentorship Program.

Chuck Linden | Crayola

Executive Vice President |


Chuck Linden has served as Executive Vice President, Global Brand Expansion since March 2013, leading the team responsible for defining and implementing Crayola’s strategic expansion into emerging markets and creating new business platforms thru global brand licensing. 


Prior to this role, Chuck was Vice President, International with responsibility for business results across all markets outside North America.  Chuck began his career with Procter and Gamble holding a variety of leadership roles.  He received his bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky.

Susanna Pollack | Non-Stop Media

Business Development |


Susanna Pollack has been creating successful content partnerships for traditional and new media companies for over 15 years.  With her passion for play and storytelling, Susanna has been a leader in driving business development, production financing, IP ideation and brand management for brands around the globe.

Following 12 years at BBC Worldwide Americas where she led the US Children's strategy as well as a 20+ US Coproductions and Sales team, she set up her own shop, Non-Stop Media.  Susanna now works with production companies, TV networks, brands, marketing companies, digital agencies, not for profits and content creators to develop cross platform experiences that not only entertains but inspires positive social impact.
Sample of current clients include Games for Change, the catalyst and hub for games with impact, leading UK children’s production company, Coolabi and

Past partners include yummico, Nickelodeon, MAC Cosmetics, Sandbox Summit, Kidscreen, SocialSamba, TedxEast, History Channel, MTV, PACT-UK, Liberty Science Center/One Day Universe, The Gene Kelly Legacy Foundation, and Purpose, a social impact business providing ‘movement infrastructure’.

David Baker | Mayor of Kenmore


Knowing the importance of parks and recreation needs, but appreciating financial limits, David was involved in discussions with Bastyr University to create a 10 year agreement for the continued use of ball fields for league and community use, and the expanded use of athletic fields for our citizens. The City’s Rhododendron Park now has a full basketball court and improved plantings because of his efforts.  In these uncertain economic times, the City has reduced spending, increased reserves, and added direct services at lower costs, while increasing opportunities for play in Kenmore.


David recently voted to acquire a new park in Kenmore.  This is the first park acquisition in the City’s 16 year history.  It provides the community with direct access to the Sammamish River and contains a competitive and recreational canoe and kayak program for children. The program provides many opportunities for children whose families have limited financial resources.


From summer concerts to protecting the environment, David is all about community building.  Family Circle Magazine has recognized Kenmore as of the top 10 cities in which to live and raise a family in the US.


David and his wife Sheri have three grown children and own a small cell phone repair business.  Prior to becoming a resident of Kenmore 21 years ago, David received a RN degree from Iowa Western Community College, a Masters Degree in Biology from the University of Nebraska and then a PhD in Neuroanatomy from Iowa State University.

Phil Ginsburg | San Francisco Recreation and Park


Phil Ginsburg took the helm of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department in 2009.  With more than 4,100 acres of and over 220 parks under its jurisdiction, the Recreation and Park Department stewards some of the most spectacular public spaces in the world.  In 2012, the Trust for Public Land named San Francisco the nation’s best urban park system.


During his tenure, Ginsburg has navigated historic budget challenges and has fought to protect the Department’s core mission of providing enriching recreational opportunities and clean, safe, fun parks for San Francisco’s residents and visitors to enjoy.  Through the use of public-private partnerships, creative revenue strategies, technology and administrative efficiencies, Ginsburg has helped San Francisco’s park system avoid the catastrophic cuts, closures and service reductions facing many state and local jurisdictions. During Ginsburg’s tenure, Rec and Park has added new recreation programs and summer camps; renovated numerous parks, facilities, ball fields, trails and playgrounds; and offered more concerts, amenities, and internationally acclaimed sporting events on its properties.


Under Ginsburg’s leadership, the Recreation and Park Department has passed and implemented two park bonds resulting in approximately $300 million in park, playground, trail and facility improvements.  The Department instituted the first gardener apprenticeship program in the State of California, completed several water conservation projects, and cultivated nearly 150,000 hours of annual support from volunteers.  Most near and dear to him, Ginsburg has been passionate about improving access to open space and recreational opportunities for San Francisco’s underserved youth through robust scholarship and environmental education programs.   Recognized across the country for his leadership, Phil sits on the Board of the City Parks Alliance, a national organization advocating for large urban park systems.  In 2013, Phil was presented with a “Legacy Award” by America Scores Bay Area for his leadership and commitment to San Francisco youth.


A lawyer by training, Ginsburg’s career in public service spans two decades.  Phil has more than a decade of experience in San Francisco city government, having previously served as a deputy City Attorney, Director of the Department of Human Resources, and Chief of Staff to Mayor Gavin Newsom. While Chief of Staff, Ginsburg brokered a deal between interest groups in a decades-long dispute over weekend automobile use in certain parts of Golden Gate Park.  Ginsburg was awarded San Francisco’s Public Managerial Excellence Award in 2003 for helping the city achieve a partnership with labor that saved $150 million worth of jobs and programs in a challenging budget year.       


Phil is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Hastings College of the Law.  He proposed to his wife, Emily, on a backcountry trek in Glacier National Park.  From their home in the Sunset, they have run regularly together in Golden Gate Park for 15 years.  Phil can also be found rooting on his daughters, Grace and Sarah, on one of San Francisco’s many ball fields, or enjoying Camp Mather in the High Sierras with his family during the summer.  

Robert Murray MD |  American Academy of Pediatrics


Dr Murray attended Indiana University School of Medicine and did his pediatric residency training in pediatrics at DeVos Children’s (Butterworth) Hospital in Michigan. Dr Murray spent his career as a member of the Department of Pediatrics in the Ohio State University School of Medicine, practicing clinical Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. His research focus was on pediatric obesity, particularly in the areas of primary care prevention and of school policy. For five years, Dr Murray was the Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition, providing both medical and bariatric surgical treatment for obesity. Dr Murray served 10 years on, and is a past chair of, the AAP’s Council on School Health. He is the president-elect of the Ohio Chapter of the AAP, as well as Chair of the Home and School Health Committee and the Performance in Practice Committee.