womeninanimation womeninanimation

Women in Animation Relaunches With New Leadership

Women in Animation, the nineteen-year-old Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to promoting the role of women in the animation industry, has relaunched its organization under the leadership of co-presidents Margaret Dean (above left, director of production for Mattel’s newly formed Playground Productions) and Kristy Scanlan (Technicolor’s vice president of business development, animation and games).

In their roles as co-presidents, Dean and Scanlan will lead the restructured WIA, and communicate the organization’s current role and future vision to its members worldwide. “Women have always played a vitally important role in animation in spite of history’s having overlooked or underplayed many of their contributions,” said Dean. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with Kristy and WIA to organize and represent the collective interests of women engaged in all aspects of animation, whether as independent filmmakers, studio artists or business executives, and believe that by working together we can create greater opportunities for us all.” Dean and Scanlan will lead an executive committee that also includes:

  • Barbara Cimity (line producer, Robot Chicken) as treasurer
  • Dawn Rivera-Ernster (director of talent development and recruitment at Walt Disney Animation Studios) as secretary

They will also serve on the board of directors with the addition of:

  • Jinko Gotoh (executive producer, The Little Prince for Onyx Films) as Chair of Chapter Support
  • Tracy Campbell (senior manager studio training for Walt Disney Animation Studios) as Chair of Programming
  • Anna Jordan-Douglass (interactive producer at The Jim Henson Company) as Chair of Marketing
  • Karen Kirkland (executive director, talent outreach and development for Nickelodeon) as Chair of Member Services.

Retiring WIA co-presidents Rita Street and Jan Nagel will continue to serve on WIA’s new advisory committee that will include:

  • Bonnie Arnold (producer, DreamWorks Animation) as Chair
  • Jenna Boyd (senior vice president animation development for Nickelodeon)
  • Ann Le Cam (vice president of human resources and production planning for Walt Disney Animation Studios)
  • Lenora Hume (production and programming executive for Shut Up! Cartoons and LA representative for TeamTO)
  • Adina Pitt (vice president, content acquisitions and co-productions, Cartoon Network and Boomerang)

The aims of Women in Animation are worthwhile, but it’s disappointing that they didn’t include a single creative person within their executive ranks or advisory board. The executive leadership of an organization generally serves as an indication of its focus, and WIA’s exclusive committee of women who are currently in corporate, management and producer roles would seem to suggest that their focus is narrowly limited to that segment of the industry.

In fact, women have been entrenched in management and producer positions for decades. It is within the creative realm (directors, artists, story, vfx) that women have lagged noticeably behind and where they have made rapid gains during the last decade. An organization that focuses on the creative advancement of women in animation is just as much needed, if not more, as one that focuses on executive and managerial concerns.

  • sam

    We also need more foreigners as leaders in the animation industry, to promote equality. Such as Chinese, Mexicans, Indians and others.

  • jabenn

    I agree wholeheartedly with the writer. Thanks, Amid, for the mention of “creatives” who so much deserve support and development. I was involved in the formation of the NY chapter of Women in Animation, and although I am glad there is new energy for this much-needed organization, and I hope they will have solved the structural problems that dogged the birth of WIA, I am dismayed by the roster of corporate women in leadership. I call on them to initiate an effort to recognize both current and past female animation artists and to develop and encourage new talent!
    Janet Benn
    Artist and Writer
    Greater Boston

  • Caitlin Cadieux

    I’m not an expert on these things but I totally agree that a focus on women on the creative side of things would be really amazing to see. I can’t really comment on gender distribution across management positions in animation, but these are all really management/production-based positions. Branching out with a focus on female creators would be awesome.

  • Sarah

    Thank you. I completely agree. We need to help female ARTISTS grow, never mind the producers. There is a much bigger disparity between the sexes of artists.

  • As fan of film and part time art student myself, I find these sort of posts encouraging. We have certainly come a long way since the turn of last century. For those looking for inspiration, I recommend looking up the following women: Lotte Reiniger, Lillian Astor, Mary Blair, Sally Cruikshank, Nina Paley, Suzie Templeton, and Lauren MacMullan.

  • Karl Hungus

    I don’t think there is anything surprising about the absence of creative women if Marge Dean is invloved. Throughout her career she been a producer that has capitalized on creatives in this industry and offered nothing in return. How she ended up in a senior position at Mattel is a grim indicator of the opportunities(or lack thereof) for any artist at that company.

  • Paul Anthony Bernard

    Great leaders create leaders has always been my view and experience.

  • Nikolas

    Really good news, but I’d love to see more artists represented within the organization. It’s a great re-start though.

  • JoAnne

    yaa, I can imagine these women are as deeply concerned with the well being of their creatives as my female producer is when she implemented 2 weeks of voluntary, un-paid training complete with lateness/absenteeism protocol before our contracts actually begin…all in time to take some snazzy team pictures to plaster on their twitter accounts for the sake of, y’know ‘promotion’

    basically, I think their main focus is to puff up their already flared ego’s about working in the entertainment industry by exploiting the people who actually do the work and more effectively because they think it’s some kind of novelty being women.

    As an animator who happens to also be female, I really don’t think these groups need to exist in this day-and-age. I mean, talent pretty much speaks for itself. If you’re good at what you do and have a good attitude you shouldn’t have any more of a problem getting work than your male counter-parts…in fact, I actually battle with getting ‘special treatment’ because I am female and often won’t receive the skill building wrath of my director telling me my stuff stinks when I need to hear it the most because he’s afraid I’ll cry.
    We could possibly benefit however from shining light on the exploitation of talent in general when they are desperate for work. (which I think Amid is usually on top of)
    I obviously have an issue that is slightly off topic here, hehe… but I just can’t stand those fake smiles!!