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Who’s News—February 2019

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Activision Blizzard names Steve Young President Consumer Products as Tim Kilpin retires from the post.

Cloudco Entertainment (form. American Greetings Entertainment) expands its executive team at its Los Angeles office. Elizabeth Litten Miller joins as Head Marketing from 20th Century Fox Consumer Products, reporting to President Sean Gorman. Plus, Cristina Villegas join as VP Domestic Licensing from The Walt Disney Co., reporting to Head Licensing Robert Prinzo.

Turner Intl. names Johanne Broadfield its new VP Cartoon Network Enterprises EMEA & Intl. Strategy. In addition to her current remit overseeing Turner’s licensing activities across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Broadfield will be responsible for Turner’s international licensing strategy, partnering with the U.S. in shaping the global view for key decision making; taking on joint responsibility for the P&L of Cartoon Network licensing activities across Latin America along with Pablo Zuccarino, SVP & GM Kids Latin America; and working in close partnership with Vikram Sharma, VP Cartoon Network Enterprises Asia Pacific in a strategic capacity.

Macy’s promotes Patti Ongman, the general business manager for home merchandise, to Chief Merchandising Officer effective Mar. 1st. Ongman, who has been at Macy’s in various roles for 33 years, replaces retiring executive Jeff Kantor.

Edgar Rice Burroughs adds Christopher Paul Carey to its executive staff in the role of Director Publishing. He will work closely with President Jim Sullos and VP Operations Cathy Wilbanks in administering the intellectual property of the American author.

Literary agent Simon Green is tapped to head the book and publishing division of Abrams Artists Agency. Green was, until last Spring, an agent at CAA.

Rakuten Kobo appoints Marianne Hamilton to the role of CMO, reporting to CEO Michael Tamblyn. The role was formerly held by Alan MacNevin, who is newly appointed as Chief Operating Officer.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) adds Kathy Ireland and Jenny Abramson to its Board of Directors. Ireland is the Founder of kathyireland Worldwide (kiWW) and brings with her experience in fashion, licensing, and supporting non-profits. Abramson is the Founder & Managing Partner of Rethink Impact, a venture capital firm investing in female entrepreneurs using technology.

Iconix Brand Group names John T. McClain as the company’s EVP & CFO. Jeffrey Wood, the company’s interim CFO, will resign in order to pursue another business opportunity.

Sarah Fletcher joins MGA Entertainment as Head Licensing in its U.K. team, working across brands incl. L.O.L. Surprise, Little Tikes, Poopsie Slime Surprise, Num Noms, Project Mc2, Crate Creatures, Baby Born, and Zapf Creation.

TSBA Group appoints Jo Edwards to its global licensing team as Licensing Director, based in the London office. She will develop new opportunities for the company across brands like Formula E, The Open, Silverstone, Transport for London, and Iconic Images.

Maxx Marketing names George Funk as VP Sales.

Women’s activewear brand Outdoor Voices appoints Pamela Catlett, a former Nike and Under Armour executive, as President & COO.

Academy Sports + Outdoors announced that Steven P. Lawrence has been appointed EVP & Chief Merchandising Officer.

Jerry Stritzke, CEO of REI, resigns after an investigation into a personal relationship with the unnamed leader of “another organization in the outdoor industry,” the company said. Stritzke joined the retailer in 2013 and his resignation will be effective Mar. 15th.

Machinima ceases operations and lay off most of its staff roughly one month after the 19 year-old gamer-focused digital network was subsumed under the Otter Media umbrella amid the reorganization of parent company AT&T’s digital properties.


John Leonhardt is the new Head Consumer Products for Crunchyroll, charged with creating 360-experiences with merchandise, gaming, events. The anime streamer counts over 2 million global subscriber and carries over 1,000 titles.

Hasbro brings on Warwick Brenner as VP EMEA Consumer Products, based out of its Stockley Park office in the U.K. Warwick’s key focus will be to drive franchise brands and expand into new categories, channels, and markets.

Bandai Namco establishes a dedicated North American Collectibles division and acquires Nippon Imports (dba Bluefin Distribution). Bluefin CEO Steve Fujimura continues his leadership role and partners with COO Koji Iwata, a Bandai SVP. Meanwhile, Adam Newman is appointed as CMO of Bluefin to oversee North American sales and marketing efforts.

Boat Rocker Studios hires former Mattel exec Kate Schlomann as EVP Brand Management & Content Marketing. Based in New York, she reports to recently-promoted MD Jon Rutherford.

Ikea U.S. President Lars Petersson will retire in August after 36 years with the company. He is succeeded by Javier Quinones, who currently serves as Retail Manager for the Ireland and U.K. units.

Claire Finn is brought in as MD of Lighthouse Studios, the new joint-venture prodco formed by Canada’s Mercury Filmworks and Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon to focus on 2D animation.

Jakks Pacific reorganizes its top ranks: Tara Hefter is promoted to EVP & GM Disguise (the company’s costume div.), Dan Cooney Jr. is promoted to EVP Intl., and Virginia Reneau is hired as VP Global Licensing. At the end of 2019, both current Intl. President Carmine Russo and Disguise President Joe Anton will retire.

Rocket Licensing appoints Richard Hollis as Head Retail.

Paula Kaplan expands her role as EVP Talent Development of Viacom Digital Studios to now oversee talent for Nickelodeon. She reports to both Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins and Viacom Digital Studios President Kelly Day.

DHX Media appoints Lara Ilie to the position of VP Rights Strategy.

Endeavor Content taps Tim Robinson as COO.

G2 Esports adds Commercial Director Lindsey Eckhouse and Partnership Executive Sabrina Ratih to its senior management team.

Indie Russian broadcaster CTC Media appoints Ksenia Gordienko as Director Animation, reporting to CEO Vyacheslav Murugov. She will develop new original animated projects and seek Russian and international licensing opportunities with the goal of building global franchises.

Bass Pro Shops names Michael P. McDermott, a former executive at the Lowe’s home-improvement chain, as the replacement for Jim Hagale as President.

Channel 5 preschool block Milkshake! hires Louise Maloney as its new Acquisitions & Program Manager, reporting directly to VIMN U.K. Kids Programming VP Louise Bucknole.

Express President & CEO David Kornberg steps down; COO Matthew Moellering will replace him on an interim basis as the retailer searches for a permanent replacement.

J. Crew Chairman Mickey Drexler is set to leave the company.

Puma is establishing a new North American headquarters in Somerville, MA that will combine two of its current offices based in Boston and Westford. The move will be consummated in 2021.


After selling a minority stake to private equity firm Bancroft Investment, Rubik’s Brand recruits a new CEO in the form of Christoph Bettin. Bettin is expected to use the new capital to help realize the potential of the Rubik’s Cube brand and focus on entering new channels.

Lands’ End creates a new executive position for Chieh Tsai as Chief Product Officer to oversee all design, merchandising, and global sourcing for the company. The apparel retailer also appoints Rosalind Drisko as VP Public Relations & Brand Marketing, reporting to Matt Trainor, SVP Brand Creative.

Nest Fragrances names Maria Dempsey as its new CEO.

NBCUniversal taps Bonnie Hammer to lead the development of its new in-house streaming service launching early 2020 as Chairman Direct-to-Consumer & Digital Enterprises. Hammer will also manage NBCUniversal’s relationships with digital giants like Vox, Snap, and BuzzFeed.

Separately, NBCUniversal appoints Mark Lazarus as Chairman Croadcast, Cable, Sports & News and Jeff Shell as Chairman Film & Entertainment, overseeing NBC Broadcasting, Spanish-language network Telemundo, and NBCUniversal’s international operations. Donna Langley assumes Shell’s position as Chairman Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

New enterprise Endeavor Streaming will be co-led by Endeavor Chief Technology Officer Nick Wilson and Endeavor Streaming President Business Operations Will Staeger.

DHX Media appoints Lara Ilie to the newly created position of VP Rights Strategy, reporting to CCO Anne Loi, to implement integrated strategies worldwide and manage sales of DHX Media’s content library in Canada, Italy, Spain, and Australia. Separately, Rachel Taylor is now Commercial Director for WildBrain, based in the U.K. and reporting to reporting to Managing Director Jon Gisby.

Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard launch Imagine Kids & Family, a division that will develop and produce premium animated and live-action feature films, television series, and short-form content across platforms. Stephanie Sperber will continue her role as CEO of White Space Entertainment while also serving as President of Imagine Kids & Family, and Imagine Entertainment will continue its ongoing client relationship with White Space.

Jon Ollwerther joins Genius Brands Intl. as its new VP Business Development.

Paul DeBenedittis joins Nickelodeon as Programming EVP.

Joanna Dodd Massey launches J.D. Massey Associates, Inc. (JDMA), a governance strategy and communications firm focused on corporate brand risk and reputation management with offices in New York and Los Angeles.

VF Corp. appoints Laurel Krueger as VP & General Counsel of Kontoor Brands, the independent, publicly traded company that will result from the previously announced separation of VF’s Jeanswear organization.

Following the death of his brother Blake Nordstrom, Erik Nordstrom will add the role of Principal Executive to his current remit as Co-President with brother Peter Nordstrom at fashion retailer Nordstrom.

Macmillan Publishers hires Maya Mavjee as President Publishing Strategy, starting March 1, reporting to CEO John Sargent. Separately, the publisher hires licensing specialist Keith Pashley to bring the licensing programme for its Dear Zoo brand in-house.

Kelly Del Sordi joins Billboard Media Group as its new Director Licensing, leading consumer products for Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Spin, and Vibe.

JCPenney promotes Mike Robbins to EVP & Chief Stores/Supply Chain Officer and hires Truett Horne as Chief Transformation Officer. The retailer is still looking to full five other high-level positions to facilitate its turnaround, including Chief Merchant, a role it eliminated last year.

Serta Simmons Bedding names Melanie Huet as CMO. She reports to CEO Michael Traub.

Studio71 launches a 360-degree talent management unit dubbed Moxie, operating out of its U.K. headquarters. Grace O’Reilly leads as Director Talent Strategy, Rebecca Dowel serves as Talent Strategy Manager, and Marlene Juenck is named Head Talent. Moxie’s roster includes seven-piece parkour team Storror (3.6MM YouTube subscribers); family channels King Kenny (1.6MM) and TheNewAdamanB99 (1.8MM); and lifestyle celebrities Alizey Mirza (110K Instagram followers). Studio71 is owned by Red Arrow Studios, a division of ProSiebenSat.1.

Content licensing giant Jukin Media hires Craig Parks as its new General Manager Brands, a newly-created role.

Lloyd Flanders promotes Warren Juliano to SVP Sales & Marketing and Jess Flanders to VP Marketing.

Turner appoints Riccardo Donato as VP Commercial Development U.K. & Nordics, based out of London.

Crest Furniture promotes Mike Gallagher to President.

Chris Lamontagne is the new CEO of Teespring, which operates Merch Shelves with YouTube.

CMON promotes Adam Lovell to VP Sales & Operations.

Hallmark taps Michael Todd to serve as Managing Director Australia & New Zealand.

At Asmodee, Steve Buckmaster is now Head European Distribution. Alex Green replaces him as Managing Director U.K. and Anil Boodhoo takes on the new role of Sales & Marketing Director.

Dakine Equipment, a division of JR286 Inc., in partnership with Marquee Brands appoints David Orr as Global General Manager.

Ravensburger North America hires Jake Theis as Head Marketing.

Melanie Nolan is named CP & Publisher at Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Character Options promotes Laura Gunton to the role of Senior Brand Manager.

Ex-Netflix kids’ chief Andy Yeatman joins Moonbug to lead its Americas-based children’s content business.

Kevin Carrigan resigns from Ralph Lauren, where he was SVP & Creative Director of the women’s Lauren and Chaps brands.

Mickey Drexler steps down as chairman of J. Crew, exiting the company after a 15-year stint, at a time when the retailer is also looking for a new CEO. Drexler resigned as CEO in 2017 and was succeeded by Jim Brett, who left late last year.

Snap CFO Tim Stone, the Amazon alum who joined in May, is leaving to “pursue other opportunities” as a result of a “personality clash” between him and CEO Evan Spiegel.

Rakesh Kapoor plans to step down from his role as CEO of consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser by the end of the year.

JD Gibbs, who served as President and later Co-Chairman of NASCAR team Joe Gibbs Racing, has passed away.

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) will honor Pam Kaufman (President Global Consumer Products at Viacom/Nickelodeon) and Gaye Dean (Marketing Director, Licensing at Target), at the 15th Annual Wonder Women Awards to be held during New York Toy Fair.


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