The Global Rising Star Awards recognizes the next generation of leaders around the world for their commitment, passion and contributions to their company and the licensing industry. Since 2012, Rising Stars are nominated each year from across the global brand licensing community. The 2024 Rising Stars will be recognized at the Hall of Fame Gala Luncheon on December 4, 2024 in New York City.

Nominations will open in April 2024

2023 Global Rising Stars

REBECCA BARLOW
Licensing Manager at Nelvana

Based in Canada

Rebecca started her licensing journey at The Walt Disney Company where she supported both the hardlines and softlines teams, eventually moving into managing her own softlines categories. Today, she is the Licensing Manager at Nelvana Enterprises/Corus Entertainment. Rebecca manages the softlines business and oversees the hardlines business across Nelvana’s iconic properties (like Babar, Max and Ruby, and more) as well as its agency brands (including Bluey, Barney, Care Bears, Thomas and Friends, Miraculous Ladybug, and Sesame Street) within Canada. She is on the YPN Canada committee and is excited to bring more attention to licensing in Canada.

ALEX LOCKE
General Counsel at VeeFriends and Founder & CEO at NFIP Holdings

Based in U.S.

Alex Locke is an attorney and entrepreneur. His specialties include IP strategy and transactions, product and service licensing, entertainment, sponsorships, strategic partnerships, branding, and emerging technology. Alex currently serves as General Counsel at VeeFriends, a contemporary entertainment company created by serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, where he oversees all legal affairs and has worked on partnerships with the likes of Fanatics, Reebok, Mattel, and Crocs. Additionally, he serves as CEO and Founder of NFIP Holdings, LLC, the first international NFT intellectual property holding company. Its premier brand, Bored of Directors, has inked over 30 licensing agreements with products distributed in over 40 countries.

OLOLADE OLONIYO
CEO of IP Business Capital

Based in Nigeria.

Ololade is the CEO of IP Business Capital, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive IP advisory, consulting, and valuation services to African entrepreneurs. The firm’s core focus is to assist creative entrepreneurs in identifying, protecting, licensing, and commercializing their innovations, fostering long-term corporate value. She recently led the team that launched the FUND Link, a licensing and investment portal for green tech entrepreneurs across Africa. The platform is specifically designed to connect green tech entrepreneurs with funders who are passionate about sustainable solutions. Through the platform, green tech entrepreneurs showcase their groundbreaking inventions to a global audience of potential buyers and licensees.

LEIGH SIMPSON
Licensing Manager at Arsenal F.C.

Based in U.K.

Leigh’s licensing career began when he joined Arsenal Football Club as Licensing Executive in 2018, having previously worked for Saracens Rugby in a business development role. Just over five years later, Leigh is responsible for managing Arsenal’s global cross-category licensing program and recently collected the Best Licensed Sports Property award on behalf of the club at the 2023 Licensing Awards. Leigh grew up a few minutes from Arsenal’s training ground and is most passionate about projects that bring international supporters closer to Arsenal, reinforcing the important role that licensing plays in connecting and engaging with the club’s communities around the world.

JEREMY SMITH
Head of Licensing for Casely

Based in U.S.

Jeremy is the Head of Licensing for tech accessory retailer Casely. His licensing career began in 2020 with the Grateful Dead, the first major collaboration for Casely. Since then, the company has worked with the likes of Crayola, Van Gogh Museum, Frida Kahlo Corporation, Pepsi, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Beatles. Jeremy oversees contract negotiation, product development and approval, sales forecasting, and marketing content. He has a passion for sustainability and is proud of Casely’s efforts to be environmentally conscious and a carbon neutral company. He loves the licensing industry and the positive emotion and connection it creates with people around the world.

FERNANDA ZIMBRÓN
Brand Manager at La Panadería Licensing & Marketing

Based in Mexico.

Fernanda has been Brand Manager at La Panadería Licensing & Marketing since 2019. She first joined as part of the content and digital team, but a year later was offered a Brand Manager role. Since 2022, she has been Brand Manager of Hasbro’s CP portfolio of brands, which has given her the opportunity to work with beloved IPs like Peppa Pig, Transformers, My Little Pony, PJ Masks, and Play-Doh, allowing her to design and guide strategic programs of greater relevance and impact on the Mexican market. Working with Hasbro, Fernanda found a new passion in the Dungeons & Dragons brand and has become a regular player.

Rising Star Criteria

Age

35 years old and under

Experience

3-7 years of experience in licensing

Commitment

Demonstrates a commitment to and passion for the brand licensing industry

Development

Seeks additional professional development opportunities to improve skills

Innovative

Has shown innovation in their work

Leadership

Demonstrates leadership capabilities

Rising Star Benefits

Mentoring

One Year of Mentoring with a Seasoned Licensing Professional

Certification of Licensing Studies

Complimentary Access to the Certification of Licensing Studies Program (CLS)

Feature

Feature Article in Licensing International’s NewsLinks

Networking

Key Networking with Past Rising Star community and beyond

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

Julia Cruse

Julia Cruse

Senior Manager, Consumer Products Licensing

Warner Bros. Discovery

Zach Fiegel

Zach Fiegel

Director, Consumer Products Partnerships

NBA

Melanie Kaplan

Melanie Kaplan

Licensing Manager

Sesame Workshop

Jimmy Lee

Jimmy Lee

Licensing Director

Semk Holdings International

Arianna Marks

Arianna Marks

Deputy General Counsel

Beanstalk

Tetiana Ruban

Tetiana Ruban

CEO

Nerd Agency

James Choi

James Choi

Senior Associate

Ellalan

Addie Dorsey

Addie Dorsey Goossens

Licensing Manager EMEA

Ubisoft

Rachel Hak

Rachel Hak

Category Manager, Apparel/Accessories/Health & Beauty

Crayola

Kevin Ramsey

Kevin Ramsey

Founder & CEO

Warren James

Jyoti Sardana

Jyoti Sardana

Sr. Manager of Licensing Strategy and Operations

OneTeam Partners

Carolina Verdugo

Carolina Verdugo

Director of Brand Management

Beanstalk

Krystyna Braxton

Apparel Licensing Manager

NFL Players, Inc.

Allison Cimino

CEO & Designer

Rocklove

Carolina Garcia

Senior Category Manager

Stationery, Home & FHBP, Cinecolor Colombia

Gao Qiang

Video Commercialization Center Licensing Director

Tencent

Hannah Stevens

Head of Retail

The Point.1888

Louis Yenik

Licensing Manager

Crunchyroll

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

pocket.watch

Mireille Maragakis

Manager, Contacts Advisory

KPMG LLP

Kalle Törmä

Founder & CEO

Flowhaven

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

Beanstalk

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

Beanstalk

Will Ochoa

Turner

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

Mattel

Stephanie Marlis

Creative Licensing

Stephanie Candiloro

Warner Bros. CP, Australia

Milin Shah

Earthbound

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

WWE

Anthony Shaut

Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker LLP

David Tovey

Mind Candy

Emily Wickerham

IMC Licensing

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