Toody Maher is an artist, inventor, and entrepreneur.
Born in Canada to British parents, Toody’s family emigrated to Los Angeles in the late ’60’s where she grew up surfing and playing volleyball on the beaches of Southern California. She followed her brother Adrian into sports, becoming one of the first girls in Los Angeles to play on a boys little league baseball team.
Later, Toody was among the first Title IX athletes, securing a scholarship to UC Berkeley to play volleyball, where she was named First Team All Conference for four consecutive years. After taking off her junior year to play professional volleyball in Switzerland, Toody graduated from UC Berkeley in 1983 with a degree in history.
After graduation, Toody secured the distribution rights to Swatch Watch in the 11 Western States. She set up the regional office, pioneered Swatch’s product launch, and helped to drive sales in her region from $0 in 1983 to $30 million in 1986.
After Swatch, she founded a new start-up, Fun Products, which created the world’s first clear telephone with lights (named one of Fortune Magazine’s “Product of the Year” in 1990). Toody was also named one of Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneurs of the Year.” in 1990
Later, she became the Business Director at Juma Ventures, a San Francisco nonprofit that operates businesses that provide jobs and job training to youth at-risk. At Juma, Toody created a series of “social enterprise” businesses, most notably a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream concession at the Giants and ’49ers ballparks that employed 200 at-risk youth each year, ages 14-21, from San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunter’s Point and Mission districts.
After Juma, Toody invented, developed, and patented a number of products that she either sold or licensed to other companies. She worked as a consultant on a project for a research institute at UCLA, helping to translate their scientific, evidence-based research into formats that people can actually use. It was during this project, when she was working on ways to improve the overall health and well-being of communities, that she realized that city parks – if brought to life – were a powerful vehicle to transform entire communities. This realization led her to found Pogo Park in 2007.
Toody is the recipient of a number of awards that include: the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the California State Assembly’s Woman of the Year Award, Comcast’s Local Hero Award and the Sui Generis Award.
t o o d y @ p o g o p a r k . o r g