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Judy Ellis, Founder of World's First Toy Design BFA, Announces Successor

NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Judith Ellis, founder and chair of the world's first baccalaureate degree program in Toy Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, has announced her retirement from the program and has named an acting successor.

"When I began this endeavor 35 years ago, I never expected it to take me on such a profound and touching journey," said Ellis in a letter to students and colleagues. "I am truly in awe of the talent and hard work that our graduates have put into improving the lives of children. The innocence of a child is among the most precious resources in the world. It holds the promise of a better future."

In 2013, Ellis was inducted into The Toy Association's Toy Industry Hall of Fame, the industry's highest honor. In 2016, she received the rank of Distinguished Professor, the State University of New York's highest honor. She is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Faculty Service as well as Distinguished Classroom Faculty and the FIT President's Award for Faculty Excellence. She received a Women in Toys, Licensing and Entertainment (WIT) award for outstanding contribution to the toy industry.

Ellis has been the driving force of the program from its inception, when it was developed in conjunction with The Toy Association (then Toy Manufacturers of America) with whom the program still shares a close relationship. Through the years she has brought to light the creative dreams of hundreds of designers who have developed countless award-winning children's products and built a strong network high in the ranks of major corporations. Importantly, she has helped to change lives for the better, both directly by guiding the education of her students, but also by encouraging their continued work improving the quality of life for children around the world.  Often asked to speak about toys and lead industry professionals, Ellis asserts that, "it has always been because I respond first and foremost to the needs of children and their inherent value as our future leaders."

"Judy Ellis has played a singular role in helping to shape the toy and play community for more than three decades, leaving everything and everyone she has touched stronger and better," said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. "Judy's relentless passion and deep commitment to her students has infused the industry with great talent while the products these inventors and designers created have been enjoyed by countless tens of millions of children and families around the world. Every day, and in every action, Judy has demonstrated her love for all people who dedicate themselves to bringing joy to children. It's why we in turn love Judy so much."

Succeeding Ellis in the position of acting chair is Susan Baumbach, a longtime colleague. Baumbach has been an instructor of games in the Toy Design program for 28 years and is a respected designer in the industry – with expertise evaluating and developing games in a wide range of categories. She was the first female vice president at Pressman Toy Corporation where she oversaw research and development of their product lines. She is also the sole inventor of dozens of games and currently leads her own company developing games independently and in conjunction with other inventors.

The department is also being supported by an alumni advisory board comprised of eight graduates who have a wide-range of industry experience – each of whom has worked closely with Baumbach during their time in the program.

Pasierb added: "We wish Susan Baumbach every success in her new role. Susan, FIT, and the Toy Design program students will continue to have The Toy Association's steadfast support. The Association is further blessed by Judy's commitment to remain engaged in our Toy Industry Hall of Fame committee, Toy of The Year Awards judging, working with The Toy Foundation, and other Association opportunities where her experience and perspective are invaluable."

About the Fashion Institute of Technology / 
Founded 1944, the Fashion Institute of Technology now serves more than 10,000 students annually. The college offers degrees in diverse subjects, such as Menswear and Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing, which are unique to the college, and Fashion Business Management and Toy Design, the first of their kind in the country. Students in the Toy Design program learn to create safe toys that entertain, educate, and inspire kids, from infants to tweens. In an environment that simulates a toy industry facility—including a high-tech workshop with a professional model-making shop and a product library of toy catalogues, games, stuffed animals, and toys—they study child development and psychology, design and engineering of hard and soft toys, game design, model making, product materials, and safety considerations. Students create three-dimensional renderings using industry-standard computer applications and learn about the business of toys, from manufacturing to branding and promotion. More information on the Toy Design Program at FIT can be found here.

About The Toy Association / / 
Founded in 1916, The Toy Association™, Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The Toy Association leads the health and growth of the U.S. toy industry, which has an annual U.S. economic impact of $102.4 billion, and represents hundreds of companies including manufacturers, retailers, licensors and others who are involved in the youth entertainment industry. Our manufacturing members account for 93% of U.S. toy and game sales driving the annual $38.2 billion U.S. domestic toy market. The Toy Association serves as the industry's voice on the developmental benefits of play and promotes play's positive impact on childhood development to consumers and media. The organization has a long history of leadership in toy safety, having helped develop the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.  As a global leader, The Toy Association produces the world-renowned Toy Fair; advocates on behalf of members around the world; sustains the Canadian Toy Association; acts as secretariat for the International Council of Toy Industries and International Toy Industry CEO Roundtable; and chairs the committee that reviews and revises America's widely emulated ASTM F963 toy safety standard.

SOURCE The Toy Association