Steve started his long successful career almost three decades ago with Hewlett-Packard, prior to joining the company’s spinoff Agilent Technologies. During his career his technical achievements included providing first customer market placement and design input for a variety of technologies including state-of-the-art Remote Fiber Test Systems deployed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, PC- based instrumentation and Hewlett-Packard's “acceSS7” system. With Steve as a key team leader, “acceSS7” system sales grew from zero to over $1 billion of installed base.
After leaving Agilent, Steve became CTO and then President of a publicly traded company -OnScreen Technologies. He raised over 8 million dollars for the company and spearheaded the development of two ground breaking next generation Light Emitting Diode (LED) display products:
RediAlert™ Rapid Dispatch Emergency Sign
Steve is also a founding member and editor of Hewlett-Packard’s Telecommunications News - a highly respected global telecom insiders newsletter.
Post by Steve Velte
In 1989, Christopher Bensch became one of the curators at The
Strong in Rochester, New York, home to the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls, and games. Today, Chris is Vice President for Collections oversees the museum’s 400,000 play-related objects. He 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.
Mary Couzin is CEO/Founder of the Chicago Toy & Game Group: playCHIC Toy Inspired FashionShow, Int’l Summit for Professional Inventors, Int’l Toy & Game Inventor Conference, DiscoverGames.com. Toy & Game Inventor of the Year Awards, Chicago Toy & Game Fair, Young Inventor Challenge and other events promoting the importance of play and inventors. www.chitag.com
Partnered with Live Oak Games on GamesforEducators.com, their newsletter reaches 175,000+. ChiTAG Group publishes newsletters to industry, inventors and consumers. She writes for ASTRA’s Discover the WooHoo Factor consumer newsletter and partnered on their inventor manufacturer Academy sessions. She hosts get-togethers at NYTF, ASTRA and in the Midwest.
Service includes TIA's TOTY Nominating and PlayCon Committees and National Toy Hall of Fame Selection Committee and honors include Women in Toys Entrepreneur and Global Toys Person of the Year.
Richa is the Founder of Toy Tasting, a video channel about toys. The channel releases 2 videos every week (Wed and Fri). Each video is released after receiving feedback from at least 3 families in the Toy Tasting panel. Formerly an investment banker with Merrill Lynch, Richa is based out of Mumbai, India - where she stays with her two daughters and husband.
Hala is a passion driven marketeer specialized in the kids industry.
Having been born, raised, studied and worked in UAE; which has granted her detailed insight into the marketplace dynamics.
Her first experience in the world of play started when she took part in organizing one of the largest kids and family entertainment events in Dubai “Modhesh World 2009”, the most beloved kids character in GCC.
In 2010, Hala got more serious with fun and handled the marketing of a popular boys property “BeyBlade” during her work at “NewBoy” where she effectively created excellent buzz around the brand and built a loyal fan base.
Now, Hala continues to progress her passion to grow brands in the world of play and her enthusiasm to add fun to kids lives.
Posts By Hala Al Duwik
Scott G. Eberle, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in American intellectual history, has executed scores of museum exhibits, is editor of The Strong’s American Journal of Play, and is author of Classic Toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame. He speaks to interested groups and consults with organizations about issues surrounding play, productivity, and creativity. In his spare time, Scott is an avid downhill skier and biker.
Posts By Scott Eberle
Dane Flansburgh is the Project Archivist for The Strong. He is in charge of processing the Atari Coin-Op Division records so that they are accessible to researchers. The Atari Coin-Op Division records encompasses a wide array of materials, including cabinet artwork, game documentation, assembly drawings, corporate newsletters and memos, financial and legal documents, and market research. Dane holds a Master’s of Library and Information degree with a specialization in Archives, Preservation, and Records Management from the University of Pittsburgh.
Posts by Dane Flansburg
Mykola Golovko is the senior Toys and Games analyst at Euromonitor International. Having previously worked in a similar capacity within consumer electronics industry at Euromonitor, Mykola is driving the analysis of the rising influence of technology on the global toys and games market. Before Mykola’s time with EMI, he studied Economics at the University of Minnesota.
As Collections Manager for The Strong, Victoria Gray coordinates artifact loans and acquisitions, photographs artifacts and institutional events, and writes for Play Stuff Blog. Victoria earned a master’s degree in museum studies from Syracuse University before joining the Collections Team at The Strong in 2010. Since then she has worked as Acquisition Cataloger and Collections Researcher processing many of the museum’s more than 14,000 new acquisitions each year, and working alongside the rest of the Collections Team to care for the museum’s collection of more than 400,000 play-related objects.
Matthew Hudak is a US research analyst for Euromonitor International. In his role, he researches a variety of packaged goods industries and is responsible for gathering market sizes and brand and company share data for industries such as impulse packaged foods, non-alcoholic beverages, and toys and games. Since joining Euromonitor in 2011, Matthew has been quoted numerous times in a variety of high level trade and business publications as well as major news publications including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Matthew earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago.
As the Director of Libraries at The Strong, Beth Lathrop oversees the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play and the Grada Hopeman Gelser Library, one of only a handful of circulating libraries within a museum in the nation. The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is a multidisciplinary research repository devoted to the intellectual, social, and cultural history of play. In addition to housing the personal library and papers of its preeminent namesake, the 150,000-volume research library and archives holds a full spectrum of primary and secondary sources, including scholarly works, professional journals, other periodicals, trade catalogs, children’s books, comic books, manuscripts, personal papers, business records, and more. Also housed here are the library and archival collections acquired through The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG). Beth joined The Strong in 2014, bringing nearly fifteen years of library experience in both public and academic libraries to her position. Beth is a graduate of James Madison University and holds a Master’s of Library Science degree from the University at Buffalo. She also holds a certificate in non-profit management from St. John Fisher College.
Posts by Beth Lathrop
Bruce Lund has invented some of the hottest toys and games on the market, and he has been a vocal champion
of the toy industry for over 30 years. Bruce stumbled into the toy business, first getting hired as an inventor at the famed Marvin Glass & Associates, the firm behind some of the most successful toys of the 60’s and 70’s. In 1984, with five years of experience under his belt, he started his own toy design and product invention company, Lund and Company Invention, L.L.C. Just two years later, he licensed his first hit, Fireball Island, which put him on the map. In the years since, Lund has produced some huge hit toys including TMX Elmo, which sold more on its launch day than any toy in history and was voted Toy of the Year (TOTY) in 2007 by the Toy Industry Association. Lund and Company’s other credits include Vac-Man (arch-nemesis of Stretch Armstrong), Baby Alive Sip n Slurp, UNO Roboto, Doggie Doo, Master Moves Mickey, Bounce Bounce Tigger, and many more.
Posts by Bruce Lund
Gary Man is the founder, director and chief designer of Hedgehog Design Limited, a Hong Kong based design firm which is famous for it’s outstanding creativity and efficiency. Gary has served the international toy industry for more than 12 years. His clients include multiple major players, medium as well as small and developing toy companies.
From Hong Kong, China, USA, Japan, Korea, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, South Africa, to Dubai etc.: This amazingly broad client base allows Gary to observe and analyze the current global toy industry from a unique perspective. Being the chief designer and the key trainer of his staff, Gary has developed a very unique philosophy to creating toy concepts, as well as developing them efficiently.
Gary has been know as “Mr. Gazillion” (due to his design contributions to the Gazillion Bubbles line). He also calls himself and his team of designers the “MERCENARIES” for toy companies and their in-house R&D teams.
Posts by Gary Man
Carrie McNeal is the Director of Conservation at The Strong. She is responsible for coordinating and providing care and conservation treatment for the museum’s diverse collection of over 400,000 historical artifacts related to play. Carrie joined The Strong in 2014. She is an active member of the American Institute for Conservation, and is dedicated to working with her colleagues at The Strong and within the conservation community to develop and share new conservation methods for play-related museum artifacts. She is a proud graduate of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, and holds a Certificate of Advance Study in Preservation from Simmons College.
Posts by Carrie McNeal
Bethany Mosher is the Collections Researcher at The Strong. She is responsible for cataloging incoming acquisitions, organizing deaccessioning efforts, and assisting with exhibition preparation. Bethany earned her Master’s degree in Museum Studies from Syracuse University in 2013 and also holds advanced certificates in both Nonprofit Management and Arts Administration from SUNY Brockport.
Posts by Bethany Mosher
Laurie founded Build & Imagine after noticing that the kind of play experiences she loved as a child (involving building and problem solving) were not well reflected in the “girls” section of the toy store. Laurie’s line of magnetic building sets, known as “StoryWalls”, feature adventurous female characters and rich narrative details.
Build & Imagine StoryWalls were honored with numerous awards including a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and Dr. Toy’s Best Classic Award for re-imagining the classic dollhouse as a building toy.
Laurie has an MBA from UC Berkeley and lives in California with her husband, kindergartener, and rescued mutt Bruiser.
Andrew is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy who went on to serve as a Naval Engineering Officer. Andrew served aboard several warships in support of global maritime operations and, fluent in Japanese, served as a liaison officer between the U.S. and Japanese navies. Andrew went on to attend Florida State University College of Law and is currently a candidate for a Master’s of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of South Florida.
Nicolas Ricketts manages the world’s most comprehensive collection of board games, card games, and jigsaw puzzles as curator at The Strong in Rochester, New York. He also maintains Strong’s play-related holdings in paper-based documentary materials, such as toy and game advertisements and photographs of people at play. The Strong houses Charles Darrow’s handmade round Monopoly set and a world-class collection of Monopoly artifacts, as well as most other American and many European games. Ricketts holds degrees in History Museum Studies and Art History and is especially interested in games with historic or political significance.
GennComm Principal Genna Rosenberg is a toy and consumer products veteran with close to 20 years experience in marketing and communications. Genna has far-reaching relationships, and over the years has been a strategic and public ambassador for many of today’s most beloved and classic kids’ brands with licensing industry giants including Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Sanrio, Mattel, Hasbro, Universal, HIT Entertainment, Warner Bros, Sony, World Wrestling Entertainment, UFC and many more.
Genna is a spokesperson to worldwide media on kids' entertainment and toy industry issues, and she is deeply passionate about children’s philanthropy. She currently holds three Board positions with the Toy Industry Foundation, Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times and Women in Toys.
Posts by Genna Rosenberg
Julia N. Rossi is the Archivist at The Strong. She processes, preserves, and makes accessible the archival collections housed in the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play; these materials include papers of prominent play scholars, childhood education specialists, toy inventors, game designers, authors, illustrators, and video game company records. Julia earned her Master’s of Library Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Archives, Preservation, and Records Management. She is a member of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC).
Joseph Sapulich has served as an art director for both feature film and television animation specializing in character and visual development. He also illustrated a best selling children's book that has gone on to global distribution. Currently, he is senior art director at Creata focusing on national and global design projects within the company’s 16 locations in 11 countries on 5 continents. Joe’s ideation and concept art has been used for some of the world’s largest global and local brands. His position includes art direction, toy development, conceptual design & ideation, storyboards, character design, color keys, painting digital background art, illustration and boardroom presentations. You can view his concept art for toys as well as his fine art at his blog—http://josephsapulich.blogspot.com
As collections manager for The Strong®, Lauren Sodano coordinates artifact loans and acquisitions, lends her voice to the museum’s interactive features, and writes for Play Stuff Blog. Lauren earned master’s degrees in museum studies and art history from Syracuse University. She has taught courses in modern and American art history at Syracuse University and the University of Rochester. Lauren also serves on the board of directors for the Museum Association of New York.
The Strong, located in Rochester, New York, is a highly interactive museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play, some of which Lauren will highlight on Global Toy News.
Steve Starobinsky is Vice President of Marketing & Product Discovery at Diverse Marketing, the 56-year-old sales & marketing business based in Dallas, TX with more than 100 territory managers. Steve founded Diverse Insights earlier this year. He bases his Diverse Insights trend reports on deep access to sales data from clients in the specialty toy, gift, and mass market channels. The relationship with strategic and trend forward retailers also allow Steve to collobarate and discover new licenses and intellectual properties.
Steve also gleans his knowledge from visiting the six permanent showrooms the company has, not to mention attending such toy & gift trade shows as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Nuremburg, Birmingham, UK and numerous domestic shows. His access to the breadth and depth of information from which to draw trend analyses is quite unique and special.
Steve has a huge passion for discovering new trends and products, and analyzing how the industries he serves can capitalize on the opportunities he finds.
Utku Tansel leads Licensing at Euromonitor International. Following his Law Degree in Istanbul and MBA in London, Utku joined Euromonitor initially as a Research Analyst in 2004. Over the past 11 years, he has been responsible managing diverse research projects covering 32 countries worldwide and for the strategic development of several industry verticals. After heading syndicated Toys and Games research system for more than 5 years, in August 2015, he was appointed to his current role developing specialist in-depth Licensing knowledge and global expertise, covering a range of related industries.
Utku is responsible for managing the publication of market leading Licensing analysis 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 presents at world-renowned industry events including World Congress of Play, PlayCon and Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair highlighting some of the key findings from Euromonitor International’s latest global research studies.
In his roles as Strategy Director of Entertainment Brands at Manifest Digital, Co-Founder at toy invention studio Otherdoor Entertainment, and ChiTAG committee member, Brian Torney is an innovator in the play industries, kids entertainment, and product/brand initiatives. Refusing to grow up, Brian has been contributing to the play industries since the age of 15, when he worked at a Chicagoland Toys R Us store. Brian spearheads ground-breaking creative and interactive projects for industry-leading entertainment and toy companies including Cartoon Network, Fox, Nickelodeon, Step2, The Marketing Store, McDonald’s, THQ and Hasbro. He specializes in cross-platform brand storytelling. Brian also practices ancient Jedi techniques of mind control… These are not the droids you’re looking for.
Posts by Brian Torney
Kim Vandenbroucke is an inventor and developer within the toy and game industry and a brainstorming facilitator and innovation specialist outside of the industry. She believes that keeping one foot in the toy and game business and one in the innovation world allows her develop creative but strategic and realistic solutions to a variety of unusual challenges. In addition to writing for Global Toy News, Kim writes for Games for Educators (G4ED.com) and authors her own blog, TheGameAisle.com. She started The Game Aisle after realizing that games are like books and are often judged by their cover art. The Game Aisle highlights games she likes and the brilliant game invention community that dedicates their time and brainpower to create products we love to play.
Dawn Wilensky has been writing about trends in the toy, consumer products and licensing industries for over 20 years. Most recently, she established WritesOnIt! Creative Services where she writes for a variety of trade and online publications. Prior to that, she was Editor of Intellectual Property Intelligence, a weekly newsletter and online website produced by Nielsen Business Media. She also spent a decade at License! magazine where she pioneered key initiatives including its highly-regarded Leading Licensors issue and weekly online newsletter as well as reported on the latest trends in toys, kids' entertainment, publishing and retailing.
Posts by Dawn Wilensky
Tara Winner is the librarian cataloger in the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong. Her primary responsibility is cataloging the museum’s massive toy and game trade catalogs (dating from the 1870s to the present) -- over 15,000 catalogs and counting! Additional work includes cataloging all new acquisitions, maintaining the electronic gaming magazine collection, and overseeing the 1,500+ video game strategy guide books. In addition to her work as a cataloger, Tara is one of the assistant editors of the American Journal of Play, an academic, peer-reviewed publication produced by The Strong. Tara received her Master of Library Science degree from the University at Buffalo and a Master of Art History from Binghamton University.
Nancy Zwiers is CEO and Chief Funosopher of Funosophy, Inc., a leading brand-building consulting and invention firm in the play industry. Founded in 2000, Funosophy conducts extensive research in the area of kids and play and has advised over 150 clients ranging from start-ups to the biggest. Prior to founding Funosophy, Zwiers held top executive positions with Mattel, including SVP of Worldwide Marketing for Barbie®.
With over twenty years in the kids, toy and entertainment space, Zwiers has deep expertise in kids and their play, and is broadly acknowledged as one of the world’s leading experts in girls. Zwiers’ theory of play bridges the disciplines of neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and child development with empirical data from the toy marketplace.