Rising Stars

The Rising Star Award recognizes the next generation of leaders for their commitment, passion and contributions to the licensing industry. Since 2012, Rising Stars are nominated each year from across the international brand licensing community with winners being recognized during the Licensing International Excellence Awards Ceremony.

2021 Rising Stars


James Choi

Senior Associate, Ellalan

Based in Hong Kong

James Choi actively advises on landmark, precedent-setting copyright licensing litigation in Hong Kong regarding recording and karaoke licensing issues as a senior associate with Ellalan since 2016. He holds law degrees from Kings College London and University of Hong Kong as well as a Master of Arts in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

According to a nominator, James’ “ability to handle and advise clients, as well as to lead and nurture juniors to assist him in his licensing matters have made huge positive impact to the firm’s recent growth and expansion.”

Addie Dorsey Goossens

Licensing Manager EMEA, Ubisoft

Based in France

Addie Dorsey Goossens began her licensing career with ZAG Entertainment in Los Angeles before joining Ubisoft in June 2019 in Paris. Addie manages the licensing out strategy for all Ubisoft brands across Europe, Middle East, and Africa including Ubisoft’s expansion into esports licensing categories. One executive said, “She is a very strategic business executive who understands that licensing is a marketing tool to support the core businesses. She has always impressed me with her business savvy and licensing knowledge.”

Addie holds a Master’s in Strategy & Management in International Business from ESSEC Business School along with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Earth & Atmospheric Sciences from UC Irvine.

Rachel Hak

Category Manager, Apparel/Accessories/Health & Beauty, Crayola

Based in U.S.

Rachel Hak began her licensing career at Freeze with stops at The Walt Disney Company and Centric Brands before arriving at Crayola as a category manager for outbound licensing in 2019. She launched Crayola’s first-ever children’s apparel program with Haddad Brands at the Macy’s inaugural STORY event and elevated the Crayola brand through collaborations with Adidas, LeSportsac, Shinola, and Isaac Mizrahi.

According to one licensing executive, Rachel “believes in the power of brand licensing and is always ideating new ways to partner with prospective companies. Her natural curiosity and creative and positive energy make her a great representative for our company and the industry overall.” Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kevin Ramsey

Founder and CEO, Warren James

Based in U.S.

Kevin Ramsey founded Warren James two years ago, following stints at Jazwares and Roblox, to develop custom merchandise, apparel, and e-commerce solutions for some of the largest content creators on YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok including Aphmau, ItsFunneh, and Annoying Orange. Since its launch, the company has grown to 44 people with offices in Los Angeles, Guangzhou, and Manilla while helping to define standard DTC and DTR deals for content creators.

A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Kevin’s “entire career has been focused on leveraging gaming and content creator’s online audiences to drive engagement and product purchases in both retail stores and online. The passion and work Kevin has put into the creator economy have increased the exposure and opportunities for this genre of content within the licensing industry,” according to one licensing executive.

Jyoti Sardana

Sr. Manager of Licensing Strategy and Operations, OneTeam Partners

Based in U.S.

Jyoti Sardana began her licensing career with the NFL Players Association before moving to OneTeam Partners as employee #4 in 2020. She has developed the licensing program for Women’s National Basketball Players Association, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association, and Major League Soccer Players Association as well as the NFL Players Association and Major League Baseball Players Association.

“Jyoti’s efforts have had an outsized influence in establishing a market for officially licensed products for professional women’s athletes. The momentum for these licensed products is now apparent and Jyoti’s work in this regard has been influential,” according to a nominator. Jyoti holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Maryland.

Carolina Verdugo

Director of Brand Management, Beanstalk

Based in U.S.

Carolina Verdugo joined Beanstalk in 2018 following stops at Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. She leads the agency’s efforts in Mexico and Latin America for Diageo and expanded the Bailey’s food licensing program into LATAM markets with industry leaders in key categories. One of Carolina’s nominators said, “Carolina’s excellent work on prospecting and client service played an integral part in Beanstalk expanding the Diageo business in Latin America. A major strength of Carolina’s is her ability to see the bigger picture, think strategically, and take initiative.”

Carolina holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Business/Trade/Commerce from San Diego State University.

Rising Star Criteria


35 years old and under


Minimum three to maximum seven years of experience in licensing


Demonstrates a commitment to and passion for the brand licensing industry


Seeks additional professional development opportunities to improve skills


Has shown innovation in their work


Demonstrates leadership capabilities

As a member of Rising Stars network of licensing professionals, recipients will enjoy:

Complimentary Access to the Certification of Licensing Studies Program

Feature Article in Licensing International’s NewsLinks

Year of Mentoring with a Seasoned Licensing Professional

Opportunity to Mentor Future Rising Stars

Past Rising Stars

Krystyna Braxton

Apparel Licensing Manager

NFL Players, Inc.

Allison Cimino

CEO & Designer


Carolina Garcia

Senior Category Manager

Stationery, Home & FHBP, Cinecolor Colombia

Gao Qiang

Video Commercialization Center Licensing Director


Hannah Stevens

Head of Retail

The Point.1888

Louis Yenik

Licensing Manager


Barbara Adu

Product Manager


Sophie Booth

Business Development Manager

Brandgenuity Europe

Nemo Bussu

Licensing Manager

KIDdesigns, Inc.

Hélène El Arouni

Sr. Consumer Products Manager

TF1 Entertainment/Licenses

Pablo Franco

Sr. Manager, Operations & Licensing

International Management Group

Sophie Hunter

Director, Branded Integrations


Mireille Maragakis

Manager, Contacts Advisory


Kalle Törmä

Founder & CEO


Mariana Orvañanos

La Panadería Licensing & Marketing

Nick Manzo

Seltzer Licensng Group

Leon Maratchi

Cartoon Network

Peter Cross

Broad Street Licensing Group

Mimi Nicosia

CPG, Nickelodeon

Mandy Bardisbanian

Hot Topic

Meghan Mernin

Epic Rights

Sally Russell

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Fernanda Coutinho


Danielle Tanton

DHX Brands, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Yuki Jinza

Laura Ashley Japan Co.

Curtis Matthews

Striker Entertainment

Ryan McDonald

NFL Players Association

Lauren Montemaro


Will Ochoa


Claire Pierce

Meredith Coporation

Becky Quinn

Sesame Workshop

Naomi Rosenzweig

Berkshire Fashions

Nancy Sanieoff

Brand Central

Andi Scher

Richmond Management Group

Nicole Silberstein

License Global magazine & Conference Director, NYC Licensing Summit

Samantha Yang

Shanghai Skynet Brand Management Corp

Katelyn Cozzi


Stephanie Marlis

Creative Licensing

Stephanie Candiloro

Warner Bros. CP, Australia

Milin Shah


Ivonne Feliciano

Sesame Workshop

Kelley Davison

Added Extras

Lauren Fields

Brand Central LLC

Marisa Marionakis

Cartoon Network

Will Depippo

Sesame Workshop

Caitlin Gutekunst

Mind Candy

Andrew Ostrom

Harley-Davidson Motor Company

Jess Richardson


Anthony Shaut

Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker LLP

David Tovey

Mind Candy

Emily Wickerham

IMC Licensing

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