Toody 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 on the beach surfing and playing volleyball. She followed her brother Adrian into sports, becoming one of the first girls in LA to play on a boys little league baseball team. Later she was one of the first Title IX athletes, winning a scholarship to UC Berkeley to play volleyball where she finished First Team All Conference for four consecutive years. After taking off junior year to play professional volleyball in Switzerland, Toody graduated from UC Berkeley in 1983.
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). In 1990, Toody was named Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.” 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.
Thereafter, Toody invented, developed, and patented a number of different products and either sold or licensed them 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 the overall health and well-being in communities, that she realized that city parks – if properly designed and managed – were a potent vehicle to transform entire communities. This realization led her to found Pogo Park in 2007. Toody has been the recipient of several awards including The Jefferson Award for Public Service, The Comcast Local Hero Award, The Sui Generis Award, and The Woman of the Year for the California Assembly.
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