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WIT Adds New Members to Board of Directors

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) announced the expansion of its board of directors with new members as well as new chapters and chapter chairs in Puerto Rico and France.

WIT’s board of directors will benefit from the expertise and contributions of Gena Lavallee and Brandi Pinsker.

Lavallee, senior buyer, Toy “R” Us and a retail veteran who works with manufacturers, licensors, and studios to bring programs to life at retail. She provides feedback on products, packaging, marketing, and strategy to execute a collaborative vision for the brands within her influence. During her 14 years at Toys “R” Us, Gena has managed businesses for fashion dolls, tween, baby dolls, kitchens, play food, preschool, infant toy, ELA, crafts, construction, back to school, wheeled goods, outdoor playground equipment, and sports.

Pinsker is the founder and CEO of Project Genius. During her time in the toy industry, she has worked as a buyer, a manufacturer, and as a rep. She joined the industry 17 years ago when she served as Calendar Club’s toy and game buyer for eight years. In 2009, Brandi launched Recent Toys USA, the American subsidiary of a successful Dutch company specializing in unique brainteasers and mechanical puzzles for all ages. After building Recent Toys into a leader in the brainteaser category, she bought out the company and rebranded it as Project Genius. Pinsker also serves as co-chair for the Dallas WIT Chapter.

Additionally, WIT’s advisory board welcomes Maura Regan, executive vice-president of the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association (LIMA). Prior to joining LIMA in late 2016, Regan served as senior vice-president and general manager, global media business for Sesame Workshop. Over her 17-year career with Sesame Workshop, she held various senior-level executive positions. Before joining Sesame Workshop, she worked for Scholastic Entertainment and MTV Networks in their international divisions. Regan is co-chair of the FWA Executive Leaders committee and a standing fellow with the US-Japan Foundation Leadership program. She was recognized as a top leader in business by Irish-America Magazine.

WIT also welcomes new chapter chairs Johanna López-Falero, vice-president of Tree House Kids, for Puerto Rico and Christine Pagani, director of 123 Conseil, and Mathilde Dezalys, country manager of Bandai, for France. As WIT chapter chairs, they will be responsible for keeping members connected in their regions.

Barnes & Noble Ups Parneros to CEO

Barnes & Noble announced the promotion of Demos Parneros to CEO and a member of the company’s board of directors, effective immediately. Commensurate with the appointment of Parneros, Leonard Riggio will step down as CEO and remain chairman of the board of directors.

Parneros has served as COO of Barnes & Noble since November 2016. He joined the company with 30 years of leadership experience in all aspects of retail management, including operations, human resources, merchandising, e-commerce, marketing, and real estate. Prior to joining the company, Parneros served as president, North American stores and online at Staples. He joined Staples in 1987 as a general manager and worked his way up the ranks through multiple management positions, including senior vice-president Mid-Atlantic operations; president, U.S. stores; and president, U.S. retail. As president, North American stores and online, he was responsible for a team of 50,000 associates and 1,800 stores and Staples’ online business. Parneros has been a director of KeyCorp since January 2014 and a director at Modell’s Sporting Goods since July 2009.