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Toy Association Diversifies Board with New Members & Offers Updates on Member Value During Annual General Meeting

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The Toy Association announced the election of six new members and three term renewals to its Board of Directors to serve two-year terms. The announcement was made during The Toy Association’s Annual General Meeting, which was open to all members.


The meeting opened with remarks from Board Chair Aaron Muderick, founder & executive chair of Crazy Aaron’s, who reflected on the state of the industry, expressed openness to feedback at any time from members and representatives across the toy and play community, and offered thoughts on the exciting build-up to a reimagined Toy Fair 2023 this September.


Toy Association President & CEO Steve Pasierb continued with details about how The Toy Association is continuing to evolve to meet the needs of members of all sizes and types amid the current retail landscape, from protecting business rights on local, federal, and international levels to creating new opportunities to help members promote and sell their products, to delivering valuable ROI to members on their investment.


“The Toy Association team, our board of directors, and many volunteer committees are focused on serving the needs of members of all sizes and types,” said Pasierb. “From the largest household names to entrepreneurial startups and inventors, each company plays a vital role in the health, growth, and innovation seen across the toy and play community. Beyond all we do to help members find new opportunities to sell their products, grow, and prosper around the world, we must ensure that members can maximize opportunities to expand into new international markets and conduct global business without undue regulatory burdens.”


Additional presenters included Board Secretary-Treasurer Andy Keimach, president of VTech Electronics North America, who gave an overview of The Toy Association’s 2022 fiscal results and overall financial health. The results were significantly better than forecast despite three pandemic-disrupted years and position the Association to be fully able to protect and promote the industry. Ed Desmond, executive vice president of global government & regulatory affairs at The Toy Association, also highlighted the Association’s commitment to pushing back against harmful legislation and regulations threatening the toy and play community’s ability to get toys effectively and safely into consumers’ hands and to advocating for the safety and protection of consumers everywhere.


During the meeting, Toy Association membership elected a diverse slate of six new members representing companies of all sizes to serve first terms on The Toy Association Board of Directors: Zabina Bhasin M.D., founder of In KidZ Co; Jared Carr, senior vice president & U.S. general manager of LEGO Systems, Inc.; Lori Dawn Howl, senior vice president of retail development & marketing, NBCUniversal Media; Hiu Lee, CMO of Horizon Group USA; Jeremy Padawer, chief brand officer of Jazwares LLC; and Lisa Williams PhD, CEO of World of EPI.


Three members were elected to serve an additional two-year term: Ashley Mady, president of consumer products at Zigazoo, and Dion Vlachos, executive vice president of consumer products, licensing & retail sales at Paramount, were elected to serve a second term; and Steve Totzke, president & chief commercial officer at Mattel was elected to a third term. Outgoing board member Michael Rinzler was recognized for his many contributions. Association board members are elected for two-year terms and may be nominated for re-election twice before being required to depart the board.


The Toy Association’s 2023 Executive Committee, elected by the board members during their winter meeting on March 7, will include: Aaron Muderick of Crazy Aaron’s as chair; Tim Kilpin, executive chair of PlayMonster, as vice chair; Andy Keimach of VTech Electronics North America as secretary-treasurer; and Sharon Price John, CEO & president of Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play, as members at large. Toy Association President & CEO Steve Pasierb will continue to serve on the Executive Committee in an ex officio role.


Muderick announced the following appointments to the chair’s Advisory Committee: Kathleen Campisano, global CMO of Beacon Media Group; Filip Francke, CEO of Ravensburger North America, Inc.; Ronnie Frankowski, CMO of Moose Toys; Kim Rompilla, executive vice president of global product development & marketing at Crayola; and Kelly Thacker, vice president of U.S. toys & media entertainment at Circana (formerly NPD Group). Skip Kodak, regional president of Americas at The LEGO Group, will continue to serve as an advisor for one more year as board chair emeritus. Paul Zadorsky, senior vice president, international & Canada at Crayola, departed the Advisory Committee and was recognized for his commitment. Prior to a final question-and-answer session, members voted in favor to update the existing Association bylaws to bring current several sections, including clarifying the Association’s North American service market, minor text updates reflecting play, codifying the existing board-level Audit Committee as a required governance best practice for future generations of leadership, increasing the board Nominating Committee by one additional member, and deleting outdated references to a merger-and-acquisition dues process.