Chairman & CEO
Emmy Award-winning Andy Heyward has made more episodes of kid’s television than any other producer. After graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in 1975, he joined Hanna-Barbera as a writer and story editor. During his five years with Hanna-Barbera, he was involved in the development and writing of numerous series including Scooby Doo, Flintstones, Jetsons, Smurfs, Yogi Bear and Scooby’s All Star Laff-A-Lympics. In 1980 he moved to France where he joined DIC Audiovisual, a production company specializing in children’s animated programming. 1982, he co-created Inspector Gadget and during the following years he has produced over 5,000 episodes of award-winning children’s programs, most of which shows and brands are household names, including Inspector Gadget, The Real Ghostbusters, Alvin and the Chipmunks, G.I. Joe, Hello Kitty, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Bros, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Captain Planet, Teddy Ruxpin, Sailor Moon, Madeline, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego, Liberty's Kids, and dozens more. In 1994, he convened the National PTA, National Education Association, UCLA and producers from throughout the industry to draft the first voluntary set of program guidelines for children’s television. In 1996, he hosted the first meeting between then FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and children’s television producers.
Today under Genius Brands International, Heyward produces and licenses brands ranging from Stan Lee Comics, to Baby Genius, to Warren Buffett's Secret Millionaires Club, to Thomas Edison's Secret Lab, to SpacePop for the global market. He has also been the largest producer of FCC mandated educational informational programming for children, and has produced hundreds of PSAs promoting child safety, health, exercise, and nutrition. In collaboration with Warren Buffett, he produces the short film which opens the annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders meeting, and he co-authored a book with Warren Buffett promoting financial literacy for kids. Genius Brands is currently producing Rainbow Rangers for Nickelodeon and Mattel Toys, as well as Llama Llama for Netflix, starring Jennifer Garner, now in its second season. Heyward is also the author of Go Go Gadget – The Creation of Inspector Gadget.
Andy's notable work in children's programming has earned him multiple industry awards, and his charitable efforts off-screen have resulted in numerous recognitions. Some of his awards include two Emmys, nine Emmy nominations, two Humanitas Awards, two Cable Ace Awards, five Golden Reel Awards, three Environmental Media Awards, a New York Television Festival Award and a National Education Association Award, among others. He was inducted into the KidScreen Hall of Fame, and won the Studio of the Year at Italy’s Cartoons on the Bay International Festival of Television Animation in 2006 (co-awarded to Roy Disney).
Heyward is a member of the Producers Guild of America, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). He was the 2010 UCLA College of Humanities Commencement speaker and is currently a Mentor in the UCLA mentoring program. He is active in many community activities, including serving on the Board of Directors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Senior Vice President, Head of Worldwide Consumer Products
Lloyd Mintz is a seasoned industry executive with more than 20 years of experience in licensing, merchandising and new business development and is widely respected for his expertise in leveraging brand equity through licensing. He works with retailers and licensees to build comprehensive global consumer products’ programs for each of the company’s brands. Prior to GBI, Lloyd managed his own consultancy during which time he negotiated more than 150 licensing agreements and generated over $700MM in cumulative retail sales on behalf of clients across a range of brand owners and manufacturers. Most recently, he worked as Executive Vice President of Licensing for NYC-based Galaxy Brands that owned the AND1 and AVIA athletic brands. Previously, Lloyd worked at Hasbro, Inc. as the Vice President of Domestic Corporate Licensing where he pioneered the effort to license Hasbro’s classic game brands, such as Monopoly, to slot machine manufacturers. He began his licensing industry career at Disney Consumer Products where he oversaw Disney’s largest licensee, Mattel, Inc., and their development of toy programs for classic properties such as Lion King, Winnie the Pooh, and Aladdin. Lloyd graduated from Wesleyan University and earned his M.B.A. from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
Chief Financial Officer
Robert Denton has spent the past six years in the role of CFO/Controller for Atlys Inc., a next-gen media technology company. His entertainment experience includes assisting with the restructuring of corporate financing for Gold Circle Films, a theatrical motion picture production and distribution company, as its interim chief financial officer; five years as CFO of DIC Entertainment Corp., the global brand management, production and distribution company specializing in family entertainment with annual sales of $85 million. Other previously held executive positions include Chief Operating Officer at Artisan Home Entertainment; Vice President of Finance for LIVE Home Video and VP, Chief Accounting Officer of LIVE Entertainment. He got his professional start with Ernst & Young's Century City office most recently as a Senior Manager.
Denton, a graduate of California State University, Northridge, with a BS degree in Business Administration-Accounting, Denton is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of California as well as a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Senior Vice President, Global Content Distribution & Marketing and President of Kid Genius
Debra Pierson is a former Kabillion executive and well-respected distribution, production, licensing and merchandising and marketing expert who has over 25 years of children’s entertainment experience. She is charged with spearheading the continued growth of the Company’s Kid Genius channel on Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service. Debra served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for six years at Kabillion and helped launch the Kabillion Kids VOD channel. She was responsible for content acquisition, traffic, viewership and monetization of the broadband and cable Kabillion content offerings and attracted top advertising partners such as General Mills, Lego, Activision and Hasbro. Debra also oversaw the creation and launch of the Kabillion GIRLS RULE Channel. Prior to Kabillion, Debra was Vice President of Specialty Merchandise for Neopets, where she created the independent retailer merchandise and licensing strategy for the brand, bringing Neopets to market for their 25 million registered users and leading the product development, manufacturing, licensing and sales for the Neopets' Specialty Merchandise division.
Director, Marketing & Communications
Melissa Kwechansky is a veteran marketing executive with over 14 years of experience. At GBI, she's in charge of all marketing and communication efforts for the portfolio of brands and corporate identity. Melissa has served in marketing roles at Disney Interactive, CAA, Sony Pictures, EQAL and various start-ups. She's launched several high-profile initiatives including LaurenConrad.com and StandUp2Cancer.org. Melissa received a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Vice President, Production
Mark Young is an Emmy Award-winning producer, director, and writer. He previously served as Executive Producer at MGM Animation and was responsible for story editing 48 half-hours of the syndicated series The Pink Panther; co-writing and producing the theatrical All Dogs Go To Heaven II; developing the home video feature Babes in Toyland; as well as a range of live action specials, series, and direct-to-video features. Before MGM, Mark worked as Senior Vice President of Development and Programming, story editor and writer at Hanna-Barbara where he worked on series, including The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, The Addams Family, A Flintstone Christmas, Yogi, the Easter Bear, The Arabian Nights, as well as the writer of the Emmy Award-winning animated primetime special The Halloween Tree.
General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Business Affairs
Michael Jaffa served as Head of Business Affairs at DreamWorks Animation Television and was responsible for all studio business and legal affairs matters, including the negotiation and drafting of hundreds of development, production, acquisition, talent, digital and music agreements. Previously, he was the Vice President of Legal & Business Affairs for Hasbro Studios, working directly with Hasbro Studios' President, CFO, and General Manager to help create programs and launch strategy for a new studio and related network. Michael has also represented various clients, including Sony Pictures Animation and MGM Studios. Michael received a J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Vice President of Global Consumer Products & Retail Development
With over 25 years of experience in global entertainment consumer products, Elfenbein previously served as Vice President, Retail Business Development at ZAG, an award-winning global independent animation studio. Previously, she served as Executive Director of Retail Development at SANRIO and has also held senior management positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment, MGA Entertainment, DIC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products.