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ASTRA Introduces New Board Members for 2021-2024

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The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) appointed a slate of new board members who will serve through 2024.

Every year at Marketplace & Academy, board members whose three-year terms are ending exit the board, and new members assume their new roles for three years.

Kevin McGrath has resigned as board member and chairman of the board at ASTRA. Taking his place, effective immediately is Jeanie Crone, who has served on the Board of Directors. She is the director of sales at ASTRA manufacturer member OjO Games.

“It has been inspiring to see how ASTRA members have endured and revealed their creativity and resilience to get through these past 18 months,” Crone said.  “I am honored to serve and lead as we emerge from the pandemic. Our association has so much to offer and I am excited about our future.”

Crone’s 12 years in the toy industry span positions at EDC Publishing, Schleich, and presently OjO Toys and Games. She has also worked in the apparel industry for 23 years and as a consultant for 10 years, including at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Within ASTRA, she served on the finance and executive committees and on various committees for ASTRA Camp.

The 2021 executive committee consists of Crone, Amy Saldana, Betty Skoke Burns, Tom Rushton, Corey Funkey and Lisa Orman.

The new class of ASTRA 2021-2024 board members also includes:

TJ Simmons

The national sales manager of Thin Air Brands, Simmons possesses 15 years of toy industry experience. He worked in all three factions of ASTRA membership — rep (Diverse Marketing), retailer (Harbor Toy Co, Play and managed four stores for Marbles: The Brain Store), and manufacturer (Kahootz Toys, and now Thin Air Brands). He served on ASTRA committees including the membership committee and CMSR Program, helping to create the customer service portion of the program.

Theresa Duncan

Duncan is the owner of Villa Villekulla Toy Store and a member of ASTRA’s editorial advisory committee for the past three years. She is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10000 Small Business program.

Gene Murtha

Murtha’s 40 years of toy management experience include 16 years at Mattel and three as president of Gund. He works at the SCORE Association (Service Corp of Retired Executives) and runs webinars for ASTRA with SBA/SCORE Association.

Azhelle Wade

Wade is president of The Toy Coach and serves on the Women in Toys marketing committee and recruitment committee. Her online course, Toy Creators Academy, provides toy industry newbies with step-by-step guidance, downloadable worksheets, and group coaching. For ASTRA, Wade has created and delivered webinars about diversity. Her experience includes roles at Toys R’Us, Party City, and Madame Alexander.

Brice Elvington

Elvington is owner of The Toy Shop in Florence, South Carolina and serves on ASTRA’s innovation council. His previous experience includes 1o years of chemical engineering and corporate development in contract fermentation, and 11 years helping to plan, build, and manage his wife’s pediatric dental office.

Patrick Holland

Holland owns Learning Express Toys of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Mountain Top Toys (a Learning Express store). He is a core group member of Northshore Merchants Collective in Chattanooga and past president of Signal Mountain Business Association; he has served on ASTRA’s exclusive toy committee.

Sari Wiaz

Wiaz is the president and creator of Baby Paper (Wize Choice Creations, Inc.) An ASTRA member for eight years, her volunteer efforts within the association include working the new member breakfast and terms on the Camp committee, education committee, and Marketplace & Academy committee. She graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Program, Chicago Cohort and is a 10KSB ambassador and member of 10KSB Voices, advocating to elected officials on behalf of small businesses.