Brent Bell, Art Director at Moose Toys
Brent Bell is a driving force behind fostering inclusivity at Moose Toys. With a steadfast commitment to an "All Welcome" workplace, he co-founded the Moose D&I Committee in 2022, leaving an indelible mark. Joining Moose in 2015, Bell identified the need to bridge diverse experiences, particularly as a gay man, leading to the committee's expansion. A dedicated advocate, he spearheaded the transformative LGBTQIA+ Workstream, engaging the global "Moosie" community through interactive sessions, guest speakers, and Pride Month activities. Bell's dynamic leadership seamlessly integrated the workstream into Moose's D&I framework, guided by his infectious enthusiasm and a team of volunteers. Aligned with Moose's strategic roadmap, the initiative fosters a safe environment, promotes allyship, expands education, and advances gender diversity and equality in the toy industry.
Dr. Zabina Bhasin, Founder & CEO at In Kidz
Dr. Zabina Bhasin, a South Asian American Child Psychiatrist and Cornell-educated diversity & inclusion expert — affectionately known as Dr. Zee — founded In KidZ, an ed-tech venture focusing on cultural education for families. Driven by her mission to normalize inclusion in daily family life, she strives to transform the world through play and has secured a landmark licensing deal with Sesame Street. Dr. Zee continuously expands her company’s cultural kits to impart diverse knowledge to children and parents, fostering understanding and celebration. With media recognition from Good Morning America, Entrepreneur Magazine, Vogue, and Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneurs, she expertly employs games, toys, and fun to address crucial topics like diversity and inclusion. As a dynamic speaker, author, and a member of the Toy Association Board of Directors and Concordia, Dr. Zee leaves her mark on education and empowerment.
Esra Cafer, Senior Vice President of Global Brand Marketing at Hasbro
Esra Cafer champions inclusivity in the toy industry, driving innovation as she led the creation of "Kiya & the Kimoja Heroes" from Hasbro's eOne studio. The animated series, rooted in African culture, showcases Kiya's dance and martial arts passions as superpowers. Cafer's dedication to diversity extends to Peppa Pig's global brand management, fostering responsible and entertaining content for diverse backgrounds. The recent Peppa Pig season introduced the Polar Bears family, including Penny Polar Bear with two mummies. Cafer's leadership spearheaded the impactful Kiya marketing campaign, resonating with multicultural families. Garnering positive attention, the campaign highlighted themes of diversity, superhero action, dance, and music. Her strategic vision generated anticipation for the show's March 2023 debut on Disney Junior and Disney+.
Kim Culmone, Senior Vice President & Head of Doll Design at Mattel, Inc.
As the lead designer for Barbie, Kim Culmone guided the brand's design team through a transformative era, creating the world's most diverse doll line at Mattel. Recognizing play's significance, she is devoted to crafting a toy collection mirroring the diverse reality children experience today. Culmone and her team embraced the challenge of making diversity engaging and fun within the Barbie brand, achieving a remarkable design feat. Over her 25-year journey at Mattel, Culmone harnessed Barbie's impact to empower diverse masses. Her role in curating Barbie's inclusive collections, notably the Barbie Fashionistas line launched in 2009, showcased dolls with various body types (curvy, tall, and petite), and extended to dolls with Down syndrome and physical disabilities. As highlighted in the 2015 documentary "Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie," Culmone's vision has redefined Barbie, reflecting her dedication to inclusive and empowering play.
Karen Kelly, Manager of Executive Communications & DEI, and Community Engagement at Crayola
As the manager of Crayola’s DEI initiatives, Karen Kelly collaborates with the Inclusion Council to implement the company's strategic framework through impactful projects. She played a key role in establishing Crayola’s inaugural Inclusion Council, crafting guidelines and an application process. Kelly also leads the strategy, initiation, and efforts of the company's ERGs (Employee Resource Groups), working in harmony with the Inclusion Council, ERGs, employees, external speakers, and trainers. Together, they design educational and meaningful programming aligned not only with the DEI strategy but also with employees' needs. Under Kelly’s guidance, the Crayola Inclusion Council executed an identity pie exercise, reaching over 1,500 employees worldwide. This activity aimed to encourage team members to share various facets of their identities beyond the physical, fostering connections, and enhancing teamwork and collaboration throughout the organization.
Vanessa Raponi, P.Eng, PMP Manager of Manufacturing Engineering Product at Spin Master
Vanessa Raponi's boundless passion fuels her drive to create positive change at Spin Master. As a dedicated product development engineer, she helps to create toys that offer children and families magical experiences, transcending mere compliance. Raponi's influence extends beyond assigned brands, as she champions sustainability and inclusivity across all Global Brand Teams. Her leadership extends to Spin Master's ED&I Employee Resource Group, where she played a pivotal role in crafting the groundbreaking Truly You! toy through collaboration with high school students. Raponi embodies her values, cultivating safe spaces and driving meaningful conversations. A member of the LGBTQIA+ community and an engineering student, Raponi founded EngiQueers Canada to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. Under her leadership, the organization hosted its first national conference, uniting more than 100 students for community building and empowerment. She further advocates for ED&I through panels, vlogs, and talks, embodying the perspective of a queer woman of color.
Genna Rosenberg, Changemaker & CEO at GennComm
Genna Rosenberg, an impact-driven industry leader, is committed to catalyzing change within the toy industry and beyond. With a dedicated focus on social impact, she pioneers a path to positive transformation, exemplified by the creation of GoodWorks X GennComm — a novel division aimed at serving an industry she has been a part of for three decades. As a vocal activist and advocate, Rosenberg orchestrates diverse initiatives, from campaigns and educational courses promoting inclusivity to dynamic panel discussions on social impact. Her influence extends to mentoring students, guiding CEOs, and actively participating in various D&I industry committees. Notably, Rosenberg has been instrumental in cultivating pathways to empower diverse youth from underserved backgrounds, fostering a vibrant and inclusive workforce for the toy industry's future.
Dr. Lisa Williams, Founder & CEO at World of EPI
Dr. Lisa Williams, formerly a high-ranking professor, embarked on a groundbreaking journey after witnessing a doll study revealing the need for authentic representation in the toy industry. Despite lacking resources and experience, she established the largest Black-owned toy company, World of EPI, infusing DEI principles into its very core. Through patent-pending technology, Dr. Lisa disrupts the toy, publishing, and animation sectors, creating inclusive products. Committed to uplifting the next generation, she offers jobs, mentoring, internships, and scholarships, supporting global charities. Dr. Lisa's achievements include a TOTY Award-winning product, Walmart Supplier of the Year, and a role on The Toy Association Board of Directors. Her Fresh Dolls gained recognition as Oprah's Favorite Thing and appeared in prominent media. Notably, Dr. Lisa participated in the Equity in Entrepreneurship Summit 2023 and Disney's Essence Festival panels, advocating for Black entrepreneurship and financial wellness. Her ongoing dedication shines through collaborations with Disney and Marvel, affirming her mission to provide empowering representations for children everywhere.
DeeDee Wright-Ward, CEO at Purpose Toys
DeeDee Wright-Ward, an African American founder and CEO, leads Purpose Toys — the largest Black-owned, culture-driven toy company, specializing in natural hair and culture-based products for kids. Wright-Ward introduced the acclaimed natural hair fashion doll line, Naturalistas. This line made history in 2022 as the world's first all-Black natural hair fashion doll collection available at major retail. Garnering accolades including a Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award, National Parenting Product Award (NAPPA), and International Collector Community's "Doll Award," Purpose Toys was also a finalist for TOTY's prestigious Doll of the Year category. Purpose Toys continued to innovate by co-developing and distributing HBCYOU DOLLS, a toy line celebrating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). With more than 25 HBCU school licenses, Purpose Toys contributes to these institutions through the sale of school-branded goods, solidifying its commitment to both cultural representation and education. In 2023, Wright-Ward made history again with the founding of Purpose Toys LATIN, the industry’s first dedicated Latino-focused toy division, and the historic launch of Latinistas, the world’s first all-Latina fashion doll line carried across major retail.