Julie Blake

Born in Cambridge, Ontario, Julie Blake has been a long-time advocate of children’s literacy and has contributed to many non-profit organizations including ABC Literacy Foundation of Canada, The Montréal Children’s Library, 826 Boston, Story Planet and Ministry of Stories. She is currently working to develop the Young Inventor Challenge, a contest encouraging kids ages 6-18 to invent their own original toy or game. Blake holds an honours degree in English, and spends her free time writing, traveling, and teaching her dog to do new tricks.

Laura Robinson

Laura Robinson is a producer/actress/inventor. She co-invented the classic, best-selling board game,Balderdash, which has sold over twenty-five million copies, worldwide. Robinson is currently in development to co-exec produce a prime time television version of Balderdash, for fall, 2015. Along with celebrity partners, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, Laura recently created and sold a 1/2 hour comedy game show, Celebrity Name Game, starring Craig Ferguson to Fremantle and Debmar Mercury. The show is currently airing in in syndication all across North America, with Robinson contributing producer services.

Robinson is co-owner of Out & About Productions, LLC. The original Celebrity Name Game format was based on her successful board game, Identity Crisis, developed by Out & About Productions from prototype to finished product. Over the past 8 years, Laura built relationships with manufacturers, distributors and retailers resulting in game placement in stores across North America. 

Robinson has also enjoyed a successful and varied career as an actress with many roles in film television and theatre, both in Los Angeles and Toronto. She was a regular on the long-running CBS show, Night Heat, played the title character in Lifetime’s original detective drama, Veronica Clare, and guest-starred on many hit TV shows like Cheers and Frasier.

In 2009, Laura became a prestigious Chicken Soup for the Soul author with the best-selling books Count Your Blessings and Hooked on Hockey!

Robinson was featured in the book Women Invent and has been a keynote speaker and host at numerous events in Los Angeles and elsewhere. She has appeared as a guest on Entertainment Tonight, Rogers Daytime, and CBC TV.

She can be reached through Mark Itkin at WME.

Ed Desmond

Presenter, 2014 - Toy Design

Since 2008, Ed Desmond has served as Executive Vice President, External Affairs at TIA.  Ed founded and oversees TIA’s Washington, D.C. office, and has built an effective program that addresses key issues impacting the toy industry: product safety; environmental sustainability; chemical regulation, international trade, marketing to children, and others.  Ed’s department manages state, federal and international governmental outreach, collaborates on related communications and media programs, and interacts with various external audiences of importance to the toy industry.  Previously, Ed served in senior government affairs positions for several large multi-national corporations and began his career as an attorney for a U.S. Congressman.  

Brendan Boyle


Brendan Boyle is a Partner at IDEO and his passion for invention drives his responsibilities at the company. He founded and leads its toy-invention studio, known as the Toy Lab. Under his leadership, they have invented and licensed over 150 consumer products, specializing in the design of kid-centric goods, services and experiences. He is also passionate about the intersection between Play + Design Thinking and how these two ideas can bring about creative solutions to today’s complex business challenges—so much so that he created a course “From Play to Innovation” that he teaches at Stanford’s d.School and where he was named a Knight Fellow Favorite Professor. He is a co-author of The Klutz Books of Inventions and sits on the board of the National Institute for Play where he focuses on bringing play-based techniques to innovation.

Brendan holds an M.S. in the Joint Program for Design from Stanford University, as well as a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University. A much requested speaker, Brendan is known for his interactive talks that stress the joy of innovation. He loves to run, hike, kite surf (with no wind), play speed golf and has developed a love for fast cars.

Jeffrey Breslow


Jeffrey Breslow is a native of Chicago and attended the University of Illinois graduating with a BFA in Industrial Design in 1965. His first two years out of school he worked for American Hospital Supply Corporation in Evanston, Illinois designing medical equipment and supplies.

In 1967 he joined Marvin Glass and Associates toy design firm and began his 41 year career as a toy inventor. He became a partner at Marvin Glass in 1969. In 1976 he became the managing partner of the company, a position he held until Marvin Glass and Associates was dissolved in 1988 and Breslow Morrison Terzian and Associates was formed. In February of 1998, Mr. Breslow, along with his partners Howard Morrison and Rouben Terian, were inducted into the Toy Manufacturers of America Hall of Fame.

Jeffrey retired as president and CEO of Big Monster Toys (formerly Breslow Morrison Terzian and Associates) in 2008. His partner of 31 years, Don Rosenwinkel assumed the presidency of BMT. BMT is the largest independent toy design studio in the country,. Big Monster Toy;’s products are estimated to be in 80% of American households! Fashion Polly Pocket, Guesstures, Big Talk’n Bubba, Criss Cross Crash, Uno Attack, Helmet Heroes, Bulls Eye Bounce, and My Meebas are just a few of the BMT designs generating hundreds of millions in sales for the toy and game industry.

No longer designing toys, Jeffrey has become an accomplished sculptor. His latest work has transitioned from his earlier realistic bronze figures into those of a more abstract nature using big pieces of trees and granite boulders.

Several years ago he had his first public showing of his sculpture. It was a very successful fundraiser for The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. The hospital has two of his pieces in their permanent collection. He is also an active outdoor individual dividing his time between downhill skiing, white water rafting, camping, hiking, horseback riding, marathon running (three of them), and sky diving (only once). His wife, Ginna, shares all of these loves and adventure (except the sky diving). For their honeymoon they rode horses in East Africa for two weeks running with herds of animals in Kenya.

Staying fit and active helps keep the right spirit to further his love of toys and games, sculpting and live. The secret as he is often fond of saying is to “never grow up”.

Jeffrey and Ginna live in the Chicago area and spend part of their time at their home in Vermont. He has three grown sons, Marc, Michael and Joey. 

Martin Killgallon


As Senior Vice President of Marketing & Product Development for The Ohio Art Company, Martin Killgallon’s days are filled with drawing up and executing marketing plans for the hottest new toys to hit stores each year.  Martin has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Auburn University and, prior to joining Ohio Art, held several marketing positions including working in account management at advertising agency, Lou Beres & Associates.  In addition to this impressive scholastic and professional background, Martin has a lifetime of experience with The World of Toys ®. He grew up running the halls of Ohio Art and helping to dream up the coolest toys. Martin even got to meet Dr. J and appear on the Dr. J 7-foot Jammer package when he was a youngster! 

John Railing


John is widely considered to be one of the country’s top close-up magicians.  Based in Chicago, he performs regularly for an impressive roster of celebrities, entertainers, and leading corporate executives; and he has performed for Presidents, foreign dignitaries, and heads-of-state from around the world.

            John is one of the foremost authorities on movable books and has one of the largest private collections of more than 5,000 pop-up books.

            In the last 20 years, John has consulted on film and stage productions, created illusions for trade fairs and corporate shows and has produced a myriad of products for the magic and toy industries.  This has included several licensed toys, magic-related candy packaging, magic books, and various other projects involving 3-D printing, optical illusions and puzzles. 

            John co-wrote and produced a series of 10 magic sets for Scholastic Books, each with its own DVD, called “The Ultimate Magic Club.”  It was regarded by the magic fraternity as the best magic package and has sold over one million copies.   

John is actively involved with the Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation, which promotes the work of the legendary recreational math author, the late Martin Gardner.  He serves on the foundation’s Magic Advisory Council and is a member of the organizing committee of the “Celebration of Mind.”  This is a worldwide annual event celebrating Gardner’s life and work, which continues the pursuit of a playful and fun approach to mathematics, science, art, magic, and puzzles.  John also works with other Gardner enthusiasts to produce written and video material for documentaries and educational purposes.

            John lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Sheila, and their three children, Maxwell (19), Mia (16) and Macey (9).

Mark Setteducati


Mark Setteducati is a Magician and Inventor of magic, games and puzzles. Setteducati created more than 50 magic, game and toy products marketed by toy companies, including Magic Works, home versions of TV game shows including Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, Rubik's Game and Rubik's Illusion, and Jigazo puzzle. Most recently, he collaborated with inventor Andre Armenante to create holograFX, which was just released this past September. He is a co-founder and President of The Gathering for Gardner, a biannual conference of recreational mathematics that celebrates the work of Martin Gardner.

Yarrow Kraner


in 1999, Yarrow Founded a network of real-life heroes:  Superdudes, often referred to as “one of the pioneer social networking communities.” From the garage to over 1.5 million subscribers worldwide, it became one of the hottest destination sites for youth 12-24 at that time.The foundation, www.Supernation.org worked with charities, children’s hospitals, and inner-city stay-in-school programs to empower youth. In 2004 Fox Studios acquired Superdudes, My Space and Grab.com for $650 Million.

In 2004 Yarrow founded CHISEL industries, a multi-platform production company to tell brand stories.  Honored with over a hundred awards, Yarrow has directed projects for Virgin Atlantic, T-Mobile, Warner Brothers, Atlantic Records, Levi’s,  KEEN Footwear, Columbia Records, children's hospitals, and more.

In 2004 Yarrow also Founded HATCH  - a non-profit platform for mentoring creativity and innovation.  HATCH has become a global network that unites and activates creative thought leaders to cross-pollinate ideas, generations and disciplines.  In it’s 10th year, HATCH has connected over 500 mentors w/ approximately 5000 students, and inspired influencers to greater heights.

Carter Keithley


Carter Keithley became President of the Toy Industry Association in 2006.  He is a 1971 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and practiced law until 1975, when he became an association executive. His career as chief executive of industry associations has focused on advocacy and public affairs, in areas such as safety, environmentalism and small business issues.

During Mr. Keithley’s term as President, TIA has increased to more than 600 member companies including retailers, licensors and toy inventors as well as manufacturers.   The association has been reconfigured to meet the needs in the toy industry in External Affairs on a federal, state and international level.

Larry Roznai

Larry Roznai is a German-speaking native of Chicago, a U.S. Navy veteran, and an avid gamer. He was introduced to Mayfair Games in 1989 by their accountant, his brother Joe. While working his day job as an electronics specialist at Honeywell, Larry was involved in the development of Eurorails, Nippon Rails, Australian Rails, Lunar Rails and Russian Rails, and worked game shows with Mayfair in his off hours. His business skills impressed Mayfair Games’ ownership team, and in 1999 he left the forced air industry and joined Mayfair Games as President and COO. Larry moonlights as the bass player for the highly semi-legendary rock band “Byte”. 

Marty Abrams

Marty has lived and breathed the toy business for over 40 years. He started out in his family's company, Mego, and has consistently made mega-hits with popular lines such as Magna Doodle, SkyDancers, Micronauts and early Nintendo launch in the U.S. There are now over 750,000 websites mentioning products by Mego, and its action figures are highly prized collectibles worth thousands of dollars. Mego corporation manufactured the first comprehensive line of DC and Marvel characters, and there is even - believe it or not - a Mego Museum.

Joan Severance


Joan Severance was born and raised in Texas. At the age of 18 and at the sole urging of John Casablancas of ELITE models she went to Paris, France to begin a modeling career. Her success was immediate and she graced the covers of magazines , walked the cat walks for all the top designers and landed campaigns for CHANEL,VERSACE and ARMANI to name a few. Success followed her in NYC with endorsements of famous brands like CLAIROLL’OREAL,REVLON and MAYBELLINE and high profile editorials in VOGUE and BAZAAR.

Andrew Jeas

Andrew has worked at Hasbro in various product development positions of increasing responsibility over the past 11 years and is now Head of Global Technology Acquisition. He is responsible for scouring the globe for the latest trends an technologies that can enable new play experiences across Hasbro's rich brand portfolio. When not cool-hunting for Hasbro, Andrew is an active volunteer, working with children and a number of non-profit organizations. Andrew holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from WPI. 

Dougal Grimes


Dougal studied Product Design Engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. After spending the majority of his design career at university turning mundane briefs to be toy and game related he decided to pursue the big toy dream and join Hasbro in 2008. Starting out in the London office, Dougal worked in a large variety of roles from Marketing to Sales to Product Development, but intentionally bypassing finance. Outside of the gaming world Dougal enjoys music and music production (which probably won’t be apparent when you hear me play at ChITAG on the Thursday night with our band ‘Toy Train Wreck’, be nice to us, it’s our first gig!).

Rich Mazel


Rich received a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) from Notre Dame and a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Central Michigan University. After a successful career in the management-consulting world, Rich embraced his insatiable love of play and innovation and entered the crazy and amazing world of toy.  As a lifelong innovator, questioner, hater of rules and person who insists on coloring outside of the lines… he is humble and realizes how lucky he is to have become Josh Baskin from the movie BIG.

Jim McCafferty


Jim McCafferty is an award-winning illusionist and President/CEO of JMP Creative, a product invention powerhouse which has developed concepts resulting in over a billion units of product to reach the marketplace. JMP is regarded by toy companies as a leading invention resource, having created products achieving Toy of the Year status in multiple countries.

Jim is well-established in the world of entertainment, as JMP has contributed to numerous successful licensing programs and develops original entertainment with a focus on product-driven content. In addition, Jim has been featured on numerous TV shows as an industry expert and a mentor to aspiring inventors.

Ellen Hassenfeld Block


Ellen “Ellie” Block is President of Nonsense, Inc. a gift, accessories and art consultant business. Ellie is a Tufts University graduate and registered occupational therapist who worked professionally at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute and the Chicago Institute of Rehabilitation. While her philanthropic interests range from art to urban issues to community development, her abiding passion is for children. She joined the Toy Industry Foundation Board in 2005 and chairs its Grant Committee. She has offered her leadership to a variety of organizations, with posts past and president including: Chairman of the Hasbro Children’s Foundation, which focused on improving the quality of life for children, Vice President of the Board of the National Lekotek Association, a group dedicated to using play to improve the lives of disabled children and help integrate them into mainstream life; serving on diverse boards – Taylor Institute Think Tank on Urban Issues, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee where she has chaired the International Development Program Committee for Disaster Relief, was a Vice Chair of Meyers Brookdale Institute, and chaired the Children’s Initiative Committee. She is Chair of Board of Overseers Tufts University – Friedman School of Nutrition. She also serves as an Overseer a the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Ellen is a Trustee of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the September 11 Children’s Foundation. In 2000, Ms. Block was named one of “100 Women Making a Difference” by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine. She was awarded the Charles Loring Brace Award from Children’s Aid Society and the National Hannah Solomon Award for work in literacy. Ms. Block holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Audrey Cohen College for Social Research.