Licensing International Announces Six New Board Members

28.5.2024 BRANDORA

Licensing International today announced that six executives—Mandy Bardisbanian, Striker Entertainment; Michelle McLaughlin, Brand Activation Consulting; David Niggli, FAO Schwarz; Josh Romm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Jenny Strehle Ilic, H&M; and Ned Ward, Walmart—were elected by the Licensing International membership to serve three-year terms on its Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2024.

Veronica Hart, President and Founder of HARTstring Entertainment, will serve as chairperson; Milin Shah, Chief Revenue Officer & General Counsel at Isaac Morris and CultureFly, will serve as vice chairperson; and Marc Schneider, Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer at Beanstalk, will continue to serve as treasurer.

As we continue our work to support the global brand licensing industry, we warmly welcome our six esteemed new members to Licensing International’s Board of Directors,” said Maura Regan, President of Licensing International. “With the addition of their fresh perspectives and skillsets, the new members of our board will drive our ongoing efforts to support the global licensing community across every category and territory. I also want to thank our outgoing board members, including Dean Allen, Steven Heller, Holly Rawlinson, Malaika Underwood, Maarten Weck, and outgoing chairperson Steve Scebelo, for their time, expertise, and dedication.

Meet the new board members:

Mandy Bardisbanian – VP Business & IP Development, Striker Entertainment
Mandy Bardisbanian serves as VP Business & IP Development at Striker Entertainment, a leading independent licensing agency and consultancy representing some of the top entertainment IPs in the world. Known for building billion-dollar global retail businesses with properties like Twilight, Hunger Games, and Angry Birds, Striker currently represents the Five Nights At Freddy’s game/film franchise, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, The Walking Dead, Blade Runner, and more. Mandy’s day-to-day responsibilities include serving as the link between property owners, manufacturers, brands, and retailers to bring fandom-driven, innovative, and accessible products across all categories including digital, LBE, hard and soft goods, beauty, food and beverage, and more. Mandy began her career as an omni-channel buyer for Hot Topic where she worked to build the licensed consumer beauty business that the industry still enjoys today. From there, she went on to build licensing and eCommerce businesses for startup retailers and studios before making her way to Striker.

Michelle McLaughlin – Chief Executive Officer, Brand Activation Consulting
Michelle McLaughlin is CEO and founder of Brand Activation Consulting (BAC), a boutique licensing and retail development company founded in 2015. BAC represents iconic brands such as The Hershey Company, Just Born Confection, Hormel Foods, Revlon, and Build-A-Bear Workshop. McLaughlin is a versatile marketing and retail executive with a strong track record of success in the areas of strategy, partnerships, retail development, and brand extension. With more than 20 years of experience, she has worked for best-in-class companies including The Licensing Company, Viacom/Nickelodeon Consumer Products International, Viacom/Nickelodeon Retail Development, Mattel, and Warner Bros. Michelle is currently the chair of the Sustainability Committee for Licensing International, where she established a long- and short-term plan with the assistance of committee members and implemented the first webinar series with guests including Walmart and leading manufacturers across industry categories.

David Niggli – Chief Merchandising Officer, FAO Schwarz at ThreeSixty Brands
David Niggli, Chief Merchandising Officer at FAO Schwarz, has dedicated more than 25 years to defining, delivering, and sustaining the FAO Schwarz brand image, experience, and promise. A steward of the iconic FAO Schwarz brand, David has celebrated awe and discovery for the child inside all of us throughout his career. David leads all branding, marketing, and product development with a consistent standard of excellence and innovation through all channels that allow the brand to leverage its 160-year-old legacy and position it for the future. He also guides the flagship store in New York City as well as international stores in London, Ireland, Milan, and Beijing. Recently, David grew the FAO branded product line to be the store’s top-selling brand, while also establishing a strategic and exclusive distribution partnership with Target. During his tenure at FAO Schwarz, David has developed partnerships with top toy and entertainment brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Jellycat, to create one-of-a-kind products and experiences. Underscoring the theatrics that FAO Schwarz is known for, he also initiated a charitable collaboration with Broadway Cares.

Josh Romm – Head of Global Licensing & Partnerships, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Josh Romm is a global brand strategist and business development leader with expertise in licensing and IP monetization. He currently serves as Head of Global Licensing and Partnerships for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where his focus is to extend the reach of the museum globally, enrich people’s lives through art, and sparking conversations about art, civilization, and world culture. Josh has over 30 years of experience in marketing, consumer products licensing, strategic partnerships, and international business development. He has held executive roles at major entertainment studios, licensing agencies, and educational institutions, and achieved precedent-setting results for some of the world’s most valued brands. Prior to his role at The Met, he oversaw consumer product licensing and promotions for The Smithsonian Institution. He has held key management positions in a similar capacity at Warner Bros. Consumer Products International, IMG-Endeavor, and The Global STEM Alliance. A recognized leading expert in licensing for non-profits and museums, he has been a feature speaker and panelist at licensing conferences around the world.

Jenny Strehle Ilic – Licensing Manager, H&M
Jenny has over 20 years of experience in the licensing industry. Working in different roles, categories, and regions—as well as working as a licensor, agent, and retailer—gives her an in-depth knowledge of the industry. Jenny joined Rovio and Angry Birds in 2013 (Finland). She worked simultaneously as a Licensing Manager for Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, growing Nordic partnerships and revenue for the brand. In 2015, she got the opportunity to start up a new Nordic region for Wildbrain CPLG (global agent) as Commercial Director, Nordics. Seven years later, Jenny joined the global fashion retailer H&M as a Commercial Advisor in the Partner Relations/License Studio team managing internal and external stakeholders. Jenny is managing global brands and partnerships within music, arts, sports, and entertainment, focusing negotiating and providing the retailer with their licensing agreements from a commercial standpoint. As of April 1st, Jenny has been promoted to Licensing Manager within H&M to oversee the full global licensing program at the retailer and lead the licensing team.

Ned Ward – Associate Director, Marketing Planning and Strategy, Entertainment Council, Walmart
Ned Ward has been involved in marketing licensed products for over 30 years, working across partners including Warner Bros., Disney, Universal Studios, and many others. For the past several years, Ned has been the Head of Retail Marketing for Walmart’s Entertainment Council, where he oversees the pitch process and retail activation of key licensed properties across all categories, both online and in-store. Prior to Walmart, Ned has worked in marketing for MGA Entertainment, Mattel, Bandai America, and Playmates Toys.