The 2021 Rising Stars Award recipients are:
- James Choi, senior associate, Ellalan – 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 and a master’s degree in arts in sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. According to a nominator, Choi's "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 – Goossens began her licensing career with ZAG Entertainment in Los Angeles before joining Ubisoft in June 2019 in Paris. Goossens 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." Goossens holds a master's degree in strategy and management in International Business from ESSEC Business School and a bachelor of arts in film and media studies and a bachelor of science in earth and atmospheric sciences from UC Irvine.
- Rachel Hak, category manager, apparel and accessories/health and beauty, Crayola – 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. She elevated the Crayola brand through collaborations with Adidas, LeSportsac, Shinola, and Isaac Mizrahi. According to one licensing executive, Hak "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." Hak holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
- Kevin Ramsey, founder and chief executive officer, Warren James – 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, Ramsey'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. According to one licensing executive, the passion and work Ramsey 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, manager, licensing strategy and operations, OneTeam Partners – 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 the Women's National Basketball Players Association, U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Players Association, Major League Soccer Players Association, the NFL Players Association and Major League Baseball Players Association. "Sardana'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 Sardana's work in this regard has been influential," according to a nominator. Sardana holds a master of business administration and a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Maryland.
- Carolina Verdugo, director, brand management, Beanstalk – 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 Latin American markets with industry leaders in key categories. One of Verdugo's nominators said, "Verdugo '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 Verdugo is her ability to see the bigger picture, think strategically, and take initiative." Verdugo holds a bachelor of arts in International Business/Trade/Commerce from San Diego State University.
Since 2012, Rising Stars are nominated each year from across the global community for their commitment, passion, and contributions to the brand licensing industry.
"We are thrilled to recognize these talented young professionals who will be the future leaders of our global brand licensing community," says Maura Regan, president, Licensing International. "We would also like to thank the Rising Stars committee members, who have the difficult job in selecting among the best of the best."
Licensing International will recognize the 2021 Rising Stars during the 2021 Licensing International Excellence Awards on Tuesday, August 24, at 12 p.m. EDT at Licensing Expo Virtual.
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