WITEmpowermentDayWomen in Toys, Licensing, & Entertainment (WIT) announced speakers, industry experts, and panelists participating in its annual WIT Empowerment Day. The event will take place on Moday, October 22, the day before Fall Toy Preview officially begins in Dallas. Held in collaboration with Walmart and The Toy Association, this event gives women the opportunity to pitch their play products to Walmart buyers and top toy companies, and to be mentored by over 20 industry experts.

The speaker line-up for the event includes a morning keynote by Norma Rosenhain, CEO and founder of Creata; a Walmart Buyer Panel led by Anne Marie Kehoe, VP Toys at Walmart; and an afternoon special guest speaker, Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The morning keynote and Walmart Buyer Panel are both open to all Fall Toy Preview exhibitors and trade guests. WIT has brought together experts from all corners of the toy industry for this event to help entrepreneurs, women-led startups, and small business owners grow their businesses.

Speakers and industry experts include:

  • Ann Marie Buerkle, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
  • Anne Marie Kehoe, Walmart
  • Avi Levine, Star Funding
  • Ben Dermer, Spin Master
  • David Becker, Blue Plate Media Services
  • Deb de Sherbinin, Perk Consulting
  • Denise Vannucci, Blue Plate Media Services
  • Elsie Collins, U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Gina Anzalone, ASTRA
  • Jeff Pinsker, Cardinal / Spin Master
  • Jerry Welch, Bambini Partners LLC
  • Jill Sasso, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
  • Joan Grasso, Entertainment One (EOne)
  • John Lee, Bambini Partners, LLC
  • Karen Kilpatrick, JazWings
  • Kelly Couchee, Licensing Expo International
  • Kimberly Carcone, The Toy Association
  • Laura Zebersky, Jazwares
  • Leila Nosrati, Master Toy Advisors
  • Lisa Shamus, Lisa Shamus and Partners
  • Lisa Wuennemann, PlayMonster
  • Marian Bossard, The Toy Association
  • Matt Phillips, Tier 1
  • Maureen McHale, McHale Design
  • Michele Martell, Martell Media House
  • Nancy Zwiers, Spin Master
  • Norma Rosenhain, Creata
  • Pablo Garrahan, Fiction Films
  • Robert Yusim, Product Counsel
  • Shelby Mathis, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
  • Stacy Lellos, Klutz
  • Stephanie Azzarone, Child’s Play Communications
  • Steven Heller, The Brand Liaison
  • Sue Warfield, ASTRA
  • Tanya Thompson, Hasbro
  • Veronica Walters, Funko

Panel discussions:

  • Walmart Buyers Panel with VP of Toys, Anne Marie Kehoe and Walmart Buyers
  • E-commerce Best Practices
  • DRTV – Using Direct Response to Launch a Product
  • ‘Be an Inventor’ Panel

There will also be info sessions open to registered WIT members only. These 15-minute speed mentoring sessions with industry experts in a variety of areas include: IP, licensing, content creation, e-commerce, financing, product development, packaging, manufacturing, sales & distribution, PR/marketing, advertising, product safety, industry associations, the SBA, and the WBENC.

In addition, all Fall Toy Preview exhibitors and trade guests are invited to join in the fun at WIT’s annual Cocktails & Connections event, immediately following Empowerment Day at 5:30 p.m. on October 2 at Dallas Market Center, Hall of Nations. Tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased here.