The Toy Association has announced the election of three new members and eight term renewals to its Board of Directors, including the election of Aaron Muderick, founder & president of Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld, as Chair. The announcement was made during The Toy Association’s Annual General Meeting, which was held virtually and open to all members.
The meeting included updates on the many ways in which the organization is evolving to meet the needs of members of all sizes and types in the face of pandemic-related challenges; the Association’s fight against harmful legislation in Oregon and other obstacles threatening the toy and play community’s ability to effectively and safely get toys into consumers’ hands; and details about the next phase of the Toy Fair Reimagination Project including new timing for Toy Fair New York.
With the end of a successful two-year term as chairperson, Skip Kodak, regional president, Americas for The LEGO Group, will become chairperson emeritus, take over the Toy Association role of chair of the Board Nominating Committee, and, as such, serve as a member of the chair’s Advisory Committee.
“We have been privileged to have Skip Kodak lead the past two years. He was the right chairperson in a time of crisis, need, and change, seeking to bring our industry together as one advocating force amid arguably one of the most tumultuous times in history,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “Now, as we move forward, Aaron Muderick is an inspired choice to lead The Toy Association’s governance. As an inventor, entrepreneur, and successful company leader, Aaron brings with him a deep appreciation for the full spectrum of our diverse membership base and a shared commitment to aggressively protecting and promoting everyone across the broad toy and play community−member or not.”
Pasierb added: “Aaron has truly done it all, from advocating for the needs of the specialty toy retail sector to testifying before the U.S. Senate on the safety risks of illicit counterfeit toys being sold in online marketplaces. In a time of unprecedented disruption in global supply chains and swiftly evolving consumer behavior, Aaron’s commitment to serving others and driving solutions is certain to be a great benefit.”
During his remarks, Pasierb provided an update on the Toy Fair Reimagination Project and the Board’s decision to shift Toy Fair New York to a fall timeframe. The move and the dates are currently being negotiated for September 2023, while strong demand from exhibitors and keen interest from key retail buyers argues for a one-time fall marketplace event to move forward this year with dates set for September 20 to 22, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
“While the board and the trade show committee recognize and accept that some LA-based companies will take a different approach to a fall Toy Fair and use it for other purposes, timing Toy Fair New York to meet the needs of an evolved and evolving industry will ultimately better serve the business needs of our members and the buyer community as well as open new doors to licensors and entertainment studios allied with the toy industry, all in an ideal time to make impactful holiday news and enjoy New York’s ready access to major national and international media as well as the financial community which many exhibitors tell us are essential ingredients in Toy Fair,” said Pasierb.
He also discussed The Toy Association’s services to help members amid ongoing pandemic-related challenges at retail, ongoing shipping and transportation issues, and its continuous fight against the proliferation of counterfeit and IP-infringing products in the marketplace. An update was provided on the Association’s involvement in a lawsuit against Oregon’s Toxic-Free Kids Act, which directly conflicts with federal law and would require companies to do additional, unnecessary testing and reporting to the state. Outgoing secretary-treasurer Tim Kilpin provided an overview of The Toy Association’s 2021 fiscal results, healthy balance sheet, and responsibly reduced 2022 budget.
During the meeting, three candidates were elected to serve first terms on The Toy Association Board of Directors: Bridgette Farrell Miller, chief marketing & sustainability officer at Melissa & Doug; Andy Keimach, president of VTech Electronics, North America; and Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play.
Four members were elected to serve one additional two-year term: Anne Carrihill, category leader of toys & games at Amazon; Christopher Harrs, executive vice president, general counsel, & secretary at Spin Master Ltd.; Melissa Millo, vice president of toys at Target; and Sharon Price John, president & CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. Directors elected to a third and final term included: Michael Keaton, CEO of Toysmith; Tim Kilpin, president of PlayMonster, LLC; Andy Quartin, CEO of Thames & Kosmos, LLC; and Andy Weiner, chief advisor of Toy `N Around.
The new Executive Committee elected by the Toy Association board members on February 18 during their winter meeting will include:
–Aaron Muderick of Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld as chairperson
–Tim Kilpin of PlayMonster as vice chairperson
–Andy Keimach of VTech as secretary/treasurer
–Kathrin Belliveau, chief purpose officer of Hasbro, and Sharon Price John of Build-A-Bear Workshop as members at large.
Toy Association President & CEO Steve Pasierb will continue to serve on the Executive Committee in an ex officio role.
In assuming the role of chairperson, Muderick thanked departing chair Kodak and made additional appointments to the chair’s Advisory Committee to serve two-year terms: Filip Francke, CEO of Ravensburger North America, Inc.; Ronnie Frankowski, CMO of Moose Toys; and Paul Zadorsky, senior vice president, international & Canada, Crayola. Departing advisory members include Bob Wann, chairperson emeritus of The Toy Association and Glenn Abell, senior vice president & general manager of MEGA & global head of construction category at Mattel.
“In my role as chair, I strive to be accessible to each member,” stated Muderick. “Transparency and open discussion create a marketplace of ideas which hone our decision-making to create the best outcomes for our industry. If we have spoken previously, I look forward to our next conversation. If we’ve never met, I look forward to hearing from you when something in the Association’s business gets your attention. And I very much look forward to the opportunity to see you all soon face-to-face. I’d like to thank the newly seated board and its executive committee for their commitment and future active engagement as we begin the work ahead. I’m excited to get started.”