Chairman, TIA Board of Directors
Søren Torp Laursen
LEGO Systems, Inc.
Mr. Søren Torp Laursen is president of LEGO Systems, Inc. the North American division of the family-owned and privately-held LEGO Group, one of the world’s largest toy companies, based in Billund, Denmark.
With 23 years experience with the LEGO Group, primarily in global sales, marketing and leadership, Laursen, who is situated at LEGO Systems Inc., the North American headquarters in Enfield, Connecticut, is responsible for all LEGO sales, marketing and operations for the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, UK and Ireland.
Laursen joined LEGO Group in 1986 as international marketing trainee. He became export manager, LEGO Overseas A/S, supporting LEGO sales and marketing through distributors in Africa and Asia. In 1991, he became area manager, LEGO Overseas A/S, responsible for all sales and marketing operations in Asia Pacific. He moved to Auckland in 1996 to begin LEGO New Zealand Ltd., where, as general manager, Laursen took over sales, distribution and marketing from distributors to fuel strong growth for the LEGO brand in the market. He returned to Denmark in 1999 as senior vice president, special markets, responsible for LEGO Europe East, LEGO Educational Division and special sales (global co-promotions and travel retail). In 2000, he moved to London to head the company’s Europe North and Europe East divisions.
Laursen is a member of the Toy Industry Association (TIA)’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, as well as a member of the TIA Strategy Task Force Committee. He serves on the Board of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford and is Chairman of the Board of the LEGO Children’s Fund.
Laursen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from The Aarhus School of Business in Aarhus, Denmark and a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing from The Business School South in Kolding, Denmark.
A native Dane, Laursen and his wife, Annette, reside in Connecticut, with their two children, Camille and Christian.
Vice-Chairman, TIA Board of Director
President/Chief Executive Officer
American Plastic Toys, Inc.
Mr. John Gessert currently serves as president and chief executive officer of American Plastics Toys, Inc. He joined the organization in 1984 in sales and operations and, after holding regional sales manager positions, became national sales manager in 1991. He served as executive vice president from 1998 to 2003 when he was named as president and CEO.
Gessert is a member of the Toy Industry Association (TIA)’s Board of Directors where he serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the Board and as a member of the Executive Committee.
Gessert and his wife, Susan, reside in Michigan, with their four children, Ellen, Jack, Emma and Julia. Mr. Gessert earned his Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his MBA from Wayne State University.
Secretary-Treasurer, TIA Board of Directors
Chief Operating Officer
Mr. David D. R. Hargreaves is chief operating officer of Hasbro, Inc., a $4.0 billion leader in children’s and family leisure time entertainment products and services. Born in England in 1952, Mr. Hargreaves was educated at the Colchester Royal Grammar School, obtained his BA (Honors) in Business from the University of East London, and undertook post graduate business studies at the University of Warwick Business School.
His early career was in the automotive industry. He spent five years with Ford of Europe where he held a number of positions in finance and strategic planning, he also spent two years in finance with DeLorean Motor Cars Limited. He began his Hasbro career in 1982, joining Milton Bradley Europe in London as Finance Manager and relocated to Ireland as Financial Controller of their Irish manufacturing company in 1984. In 1986 he came to US as Director of Business Planning and Analysis. Between 1989 and 1999, at various times he served as Senior Vice President of Finance for each of Hasbro’s major operating segments. He was appointed Chief Financial Officer in February 2001. During the period he has served as Chief Financial Officer, the Company has substantially improved profitability, strengthened its balance sheet, rebuilt its credibility with the investment community, and undertaken several strategic initiatives to expand the reach of company’s brands into digital gaming, movies and television. He was given responsibility for Hasbro’s manufacturing, sourcing, logistics and supply chain planning in 2007, and was appointed Chief Operating Officer in May 2008.
He has lived and worked in England, Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, and the US, and has traveled extensively throughout the world. He serves on the board of the Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council and is involved with a number of non-profit organizations. He has been a board member of the Kent County YMCA and Capital City Community Centers. He is an enthusiastic athlete and has completed a number of marathons and an Ironman triathlon.
Member of the Executive Committee, TIA Board of Directors
Chief Executive Officer
Bob Wann is the CEO of Patch Products Inc, makers of Patch, Lauri and Smethport Branded toys, games and educational products. Bob proudly serves on the Executive Committee of Toy Industry Association's Board of Directors and holds the Chair position for both the PlayCon Conference Committee and the Toy Industry Foundation's Fundraising Committee.
Wann has over 30 years experience at both Fortune 500 and Entrepreneurial/Start-up companies in U.S and International markets. Through strategic brand and product development combined with creative marketing, he has overseen the development and growth of some of the most recognized brands in Toys and Consumer Packaged Goods, including M&M's, Johnson & Johnson, Fisher Price and Playskool. Wann developed his brand building and marketing skills at M & M Mars, Johnson & Johnson and American Greetings and later applied these skills as VP of Marketing at Fisher Price, Executive Vice President of Playskool and President/Worldwide General Manager of Milton Bradley/Parker Bros at Hasbro, overseeing the successful introduction or growth of industry recognized brands such as Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Fisher Price, Playskool, Nerf.
Wann is widely recognized as a creative thinker and marketer, developing award-winning programs such as "Family Game Night” and “Get Together Games.”
He has been married to his wife Amy, for 19 years, and resides in Lake Geneva, WI with their 16-year-old daughter Melanie.
Member of the Executive Committee, TIA Board of Directors
President and Chief Operating Officer
Shirley Price is President and Chief Operating Officer of Funrise Toy Corporation, an industry leader in the manufacturing and distribution of the most popular toys for children of all ages. She started her toy industry career with Funrise in 1987, the same year the company was founded, and has held several senior management positions within the organization. In addition to managing the operations for a company that goes through the entire creative process of designing and manufacturing toys, Shirley leads all strategic planning and business development initiatives, including partnerships with other major toy companies and licensors.
Shirley is very involved in charitable causes. For 10 years, she organized Funrise’s “Toy Run For Kids,” an annual toy drive that brought the largest single donation of toys to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She was the founding co-chair of the Toy Industry Foundation’s Toy Bank Committee when it was created in 2004 and continues to sit as a member of the group.
An active member of the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Shirley was elected to the Board of Directors in February of 2010. She also holds the position of co-chair on both the PlayCon and Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award Committees. She is also a member of Women In Toys and received the Wonder Woman In Toys Award for Manufacturing in 2011.
Shirley is a graduate of Catherine College she lives in Southern California with her husband and two children.