WiT announces 2022 Wonder Women Awards winners

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) has announced the 2022 Wonder Women Award winners, as the global organisation celebrates its 30-year anniversary. Honouring the brightest women in toys, licensing and entertainment, the WiT Wonder Women Awards is an annual celebration of the industry’s remakable thought leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers.

The 2022 Wonder Women Award winners are:

  • Designer / Inventor – Kenna O’Brien, Senior Manager, Product Design – Barbie – Mattel

  • Licensee / Manufacturer – Amanda Bright, Senior Director, Product Development – Spin Master

  • Licensor / Entertainment – Jes Wolfe, CEO – Rebel Girls

  • Marketing / PR – Arlene Biran, SVP, US Marketing – Spin Master

  • Social Good – Sarah Knott, Manager, Global Philanthropy and Social Impact – Hasbro

  • Covid Hero – The LEGO Group

  • Deal Maker – Paula Kupfer, Senior Director, Global Partnerships – Hasbro

  • Storyteller – Azhelle Wade, CEO – The Toy Coach

  • Unsung Hero – Maggie Snow, Senior Director & Associate General Counsel – Mattel

  • Wonder Girl – Alaya High, Artist (That Girl Lay Lay) – Paramount

  • Rising Star – Deal Maker – Brittany Oliver, Senior Commercial Lead – ZURU Toys

  • Rising Star – Designer/Inventor – Vanessa Fung, Senior Designer, Toys & Hardlines – Universal Brand Development

  • Rising Star – Licensee / Manufacturer – Dr. Lisa Williams, CEO & Founder – The World of EPI

  • Rising Star – Licensor / Entertainment – Tiffany Suzuki, Licensing Manager – Crunchyroll

  • Rising Star – Marketing / PR – Sakita Withers, Brand Manager – PlayMonster

  • Rising Star – Social Good – Penny Bauder, Founder & CEO – Green Kid Crafts

  • Rising Star – Storyteller – Rupa Parekh, Founder & CEO – Umani Studio

  • Rising Star – Unsung Hero – Amanda Marschall, Training Manager – The LEGO Group

The 2022 Wonder Women Award honorees are:

  • Retailer of the Year – Amazon / Anne Carrihill – Amazon

  • Icon Award – JoJo Siwa – Paramount

  • Changemaker Award – Steven Wolfe Periera – Encantos

“It’s a privilege and an honour to celebrate this incredible slate of 2022 Wonder Women Award winners and honorees,” says Janice Ross, WiT President. “This year’s expanded categories gave us the opportunity to spotlight the broad range of tremendously talented women in our industry, and the powerful impact they’re having. Out of hundreds of deserving nominees, this amazing group embodies such extraordinary excellence in leadership.”

WiT is also planning a special International Women’s Day Celebration Event on 8 March to celebrate the achievements of all women in the industry, and highlighting WiT’s 2022 Wonder Women Award winners and honorees.

The WiT 2022 Retailer of the Year Award was presented to Amazon, accepted by Anne Carrihill, Director, Toys & Entertainment, for the positive impact Amazon has had on the toy industry and everyone’s lives. A WiT spokesperson said: “Amazon kept the world connected with safe, crucial deliveries of toys and goods for its massive customer base during this unprecedented time, and their myriad strategic programmes – including Amazon Smile, which offers customers a way to support their favourite charitable organisation, at no additional cost, when they shop at Smile.Amazon.com; Amazon Small Business Academy, and Amazon Black Business Accelerators – have empowered entrepreneurs, businesses and organisations with tangible resources, which have been a lifeline to countless companies and individuals.”

WiT also presented an Icon Award to JoJo Siwa, the powerhouse Nickelodeon star, pop star, social media sensation, author and consumer products global brand. “She is an activist, role model, and overall trailblazer in every way,” said a spokesperson. “She now also adds powerhouse LGBTQ+ icon for kids and adults of all ages who she has inspired throughout her journey and meteoric career.”

WiT presented its 2022 Changemaker Award to Steven Wolfe Pereira, for his purpose-driven and transformative leadership in diversity and inclusion. A spokesperson said: “Through his intentional actions using both his personal social influence and the work he leads as CEO of Encantos, the public benefit corporation he co-founded, Steven is a visionary business leader committed to allyship, advocacy and activism to create opportunities for under-served communities.”

WiT thanks its 2022 sponsors, including Amazon, Hasbro, Mattel, Paramount, Disney, Spin Master, LEGO, Jazwares, The Bandai Foundation, VTech, Warner Bros, TOMY, and the many partners who provide funding and support for WiT’s year-round programming, events and initiatives, including The WiT Foundation Scholarship Program.

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment opens nominations for Wonder Women Awards 2021

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) has opened its nominations for the 17th Annual Wonder Women Awards, a well-established industry initiative that honours the top female executives, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and changemakers for their accomplishments.

Coinciding with WIT’s 30th anniversary, the 2021 Wonder Women Awards are expected to be held for the first time in Los Angeles in late September this year. The date and the location of the event will be announced soon.

“The WIT Wonder Women Awards celebrate the women whose exceptional achievements and successes have made a significant impact on our industry,” said Wonder Women co-chair, Genna Rosenberg. “We look forward to celebrating and recognizing these remarkable leaders, and to reimagining this exciting annual event for the entire WIT community.”

Co-chair, Jennifer Caveza, added: “Each year, WIT brings together hundreds of industry players to honor powerhouse women who inspire us all, and who play a pivotal role in their companies. This will be a celebratory night for all in our industry, in a special new location befitting of the superstars we will honor.”

From now through to April 30th, anyone may nominate a colleague, friend, themselves, or any woman who has made an impact in toys, licensing or entertainment. 2021 Wonder Women Award categories include:

  • Designer | Inventor

  • Licensor | Entertainment

  • Licensee | Manufacturer

  • Marketing | PR

  • Rising Star

  • Social Good

  • COVID-19 Hero

  • Deal Maker

  • StoryTeller

  • Unsung Hero

  • Wonder Girl

Click here for full category descriptions and guidelines.

All Nominee submissions will be reviewed by the Wonder Women Committee and WIT staff to ensure eligibility is met. The slate of finalists will be determined by vote conducted by the WIT Board of Directors, Advisory Board and Chapter Chairs, and will be based on the Nominee’s achievements and criteria provided.

Voting for the winners will be conducted by the entire WIT community, including all active WIT members, Chapter Chairs, its Board of Directors and Advisory Board. Winners will be revealed at the Wonder Women Awards in September in Los Angeles

To nominate a WIT Wonder Woman, please visit www.WomenInToys.com.


Women in Toys, Licensing, & Entertainment reveals WIT Launch: Innovation Summit

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment has revealed its newest educational programming series, WIT Launch. The WIT Launch umbrella includes a series of multi-dimensional virtual programs designed to boost innovation and creativity within the $90 billion global toy, game and entertainment industry.

Aligning with the organisation’s mission of advancing women through leadership, networking and educational opportunities, each WIT Launch program will include interactive workshops, panels and keynote speakers; industry expert Q&A sessions; mentorship; hands-on learning; and networking with an inclusive community that opens doors to people, resources and opportunities.

“Female leadership matters, and its positive impact on business is more evident today than ever,” said Janice Ross, WIT President. “With WIT Launch, we’re building a pipeline of fresh ideas, actionable concepts and distinct perspectives.”

The series kicks off with WIT Launch: Innovation Summit, which will take place on October 5, 2020. Sponsored by Hasbro, this full-day learning experience is a “Toy Industry 101” for inventors, entrepreneurs or anyone wanting to learn more about the toy business. The Innovation Summit will enlighten, inspire and leave inventors and entrepreneurs with tangible take-aways to help bring their concept or product to life.

WIT Launch: Innovation Summit Sessions | October 5, 2020 | 11am EST – 7pm EST

  • Keynote by Jess Weiner, Cultural Expert and CEO of Talk To Jess
  • Where Do (Toy) Babies Come From?
  • The Building Blocks of Prototyping
  • If You See It, You Can Believe It: Representation in Toys
  • Expert Empower Hour: Live Sessions with Toy Industry Leaders
  • Pitch Perfect: The Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Invention
  • WIT Launch: Innovation Summit Networking Happy Hour

The WIT Launch: Innovation Summit is a lead-in to WIT Launch: Invent, an immersive, eight-week virtual educational program to be held in Spring 2021, where women will learn how to develop, protect or license their ideas; create a winning prototype; brand, market and promote their product; navigate the ins and outs of the toy industry; and how to pitch their ideas to any audience. WIT Launch: Invent will culminate in pitching opportunities to toy companies and retailers.

“Innovation is a key driver for our industry’s sustained growth, and WIT is more deliberate than ever with our mission and our goal to bring more women into our industry as inventors and innovators,” says Alita Friedman, WIT Launch: Innovation Summit/Invent Chair. “Our Innovation Summit and WIT Launch: Invent programs will give women the tools they need to put them on the path to succeed.”

Registration is now open for the October 5th WIT Launch: Innovation Summit. The event is free for WIT members and $49 for non-members. For more information and to register, visit https://www.womenintoys.com/summit/