Where did you grow up?
20 miles north of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts. Besides being the location of the infamous Witch Trials, Salem was also the home of Parker Brothers’ game factory for over 100 years. My mother, who was an elementary school teacher in Salem, would take her classes on field trips to the factory so they could see Monopoly games being made.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game Industry?
In 1986 I was working for a computer corporation, which was quite routine and uninspiring. One day, I saw a Parker Brothers help wanted ad in the local newspaper that said, “Come Play With Us!” I applied and got the job as a member of their two-person Consumer Relations team.
My co-worker and I answered sixty-thousand (plus, plus, plus!) consumer letters and phone calls each year. This was before the dawn of email. We responded (by typing!) to every consumer who contacted us. The first thing I learned was that the saying about people being quick to complain and slow to compliment was so, very true. Being on the front line with consumers also taught me how seriously manufacturers need to take quality control. To get a call saying “Christmas was ruined!” because a Monopoly game was missing the Scottie token was a bummer (And, really? Your Christmas was ruined?) But, receiving thank you letters, about favorite games from kids (usually written in crayon), was always a day brightener.
I stayed with Parker Brothers for 7 years, through the Tonka acquisition of Kenner Parker and then the subsequent Hasbro acquisition of Tonka in 1991. I worked in Public Relations and Marketing before ultimately settling into Inventor Relations. Quite a few of the inventors I met then, continue to show me new concepts today.
When Phil Orbanes (former SVP R&D Parker Brothers and one of the four founders of Winning Moves) reached out to me about helping him launch Winning Moves, I was thrilled at the opportunity to be part of the team building a new games company. Since Winning Moves start in 1995, our relationship with Hasbro has broadened and we now market many of the same brands we did at Parker.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Litter Critter. Great name, not-so-great job. My father worked for the state of Massachusetts and made sure that every one of his six kids was gainfully employed each summer. When I was 15 he “surprised” me by getting me onto the litter crew that cleaned the state’s highways, parks, etc. Picking up trash all every day and especially cleaning up Boston’s North End after the feast of St. Anthony, was certainly not how I envisioned spending my summer vacation. Fast forward a few years and Massachusetts decided to scrap the Litter Critter program and replace it with state prison work crews. To this day, whenever I see them out on the road, picking up trash, I remind my kids that I used to have the prisoners job. What did I learn? Besides the fact that people are slobs, there is still satisfaction in earning a paycheck…even if the job literally stinks.
My husband of 28 years, daughter, son, family, friends, fine chocolates (okay, any chocolate), travel, winning at games, reading, rocky coasts and my 13 year old buff colored cockapoo pup Fenway Frank. Order of the list changes daily, but in truth, Fenway is always at the top. Shhh don’t tell my kids or husband!