Effective October 6, Kathleen McHugh will resign her position as president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).
“It is bittersweet to be moving on at a time when ASTRA is stronger, more financially stable, and more of a force in the toy industry than it has ever been,” says McHugh. “It will be difficult to leave an organization with such an important mission and so full of many valued friends, colleagues, and mentors.
“However, ASTRA is well positioned to continue growing and to bring to fruition the business-strengthening programs we have worked together to create. I see my departure as a leave-at-the-top-of-your-game proposition, and I’d like to thank all of you who supported me with your wise counsel, your fresh ideas, and your unwavering commitment to ASTRA’s work.”
McHugh has been a member of ASTRA for more than 15 years, helping to create its annual trade show, ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy, and grow the organization in both size and importance to the toy industry. Membership grew from just under 400 people in 1999 to more than 1,600 this year.
ASTRA’s programs have expanded in size and scope to include a range of business services, a library of publications, and programs that support fourth quarter sales, such as Neighborhood Toy Store Day.
The ASTRA board will have an opportunity at its next meeting to discuss the direction, skills, and traits for new leadership to inform a search committee headed up by ASTRA Board Chair Michael Levins and Chair-Elect Dean May.
“It is with regret that I have accepted, on behalf of ASTRA’s Board of Directors and its membership, Kathleen McHugh’s resignation,” says Levins. “While we are sorry that Kathleen made the decision to resign, she has shown her commitment to ASTRA by choosing a time when ASTRA is fiscally and programmatically stronger than it ever has been. She will be working with the board of directors to ensure a smooth transition. The talented and committed staff she has built is ready and well-equipped to deliver top-notch member services during and after this transition.
“In the coming weeks, the board of directors will provide information to the membership about our search for the next president of ASTRA. We hope you will join us to honor and thank Kathleen at her last Marketplace & Academy in Charlotte, N.C. [on] June 7 to 10.”