African-Americans are underrepresented in the toy industry. To change that paradigm, I had the pleasure of leading a group of toy industry thought leaders in a panel discussion with African-American graduate students. The students are part of “The Columbia University” H.B.C.U. Fellowship Program of the School of Professional Studies. H.B.C.U. stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The panel covered issues related to the toy industry in general and the Black experience in particular. Topics ranged from personal experiences to insights on inclusivity and recommendations on entering the toy industry.
The discussion, “Careers in the Toy Industry,” took place on October 8 at noon and featured Dr. Lisa Williams, Founder, and CEO of “World of EPI,” and the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Azhelle Wade, President of “Toy Coach” and owner of three patents. Jacqueline Vong, CEO of “Playology International,” who has worked in China and Canada. Chris Byrne, “The Toy Guy,” author, consultant, and a regular guest on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”
The HBCU Fellowship Program provides fellowships to high-achieving undergraduate seniors selected by partner HBCUs. Those chosen are eligible for Fellowships granting full tuition and housing for a range of master’s programs at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.