Lisa Stewart McKnight, 1990

B.A., Denison University

Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer
Mattel, Inc.
Los Angeles

Lisa Stewart McKnight is the executive vice president and chief brand officer of Mattel, Inc., overseeing all of Mattel’s toy categories and global brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and American Girl, as well as design and development across the entire portfolio.

Recently, she was included in Business Insider’s list of “Most Innovative Chief Marketing Officers of 2023” for her efforts to “reinvigorate the iconic Barbie brand,” named to Forbes’ “World’s Most Influential CMOs List of 2023” list, and honored with the Women in Toys Licensing and Entertainment Trailblazer Award.

Lisa had led a critical effort to further recontextualize the Barbie brand for the next generation, partnering closely with Warner Bros, Atlantic Records, and filmmakers of Barbie the Movie to bring the record-breaking film to life. She spearheaded an award-winning best-in-class marketing campaign for Mattel to support Barbie’s big screen debut, bringing the story of the Barbie brand to life through a new lens. The film grossed more than $1.44 billion at the worldwide box office, breaking the record for the highest-grossing film from a female director, the highest-grossing film in Warner Bros’ 100-year history, and the biggest film of 2023. The full-length feature film Barbie received more than 450 industry nominations and 120 wins, including the Academy Awards, the Grammys, and the Golden Globes.

Since joining Mattel in 1998, Lisa has held several senior leadership positions at the company. Most recently, she served as executive vice president and global head of the Barbie and Dolls portfolio, where she oversaw global brand strategy and business. Lisa began working with the Barbie line in 2008 and became the global head of Barbie in 2016, contributing to and leading the Barbie renaissance. Lisa has brought the Barbie brand into a new era, incorporating diversity and inclusivity, generating a product line that reinforces positive messages to girls, and championing and reinforcing Barbie’s positioning in support of girl empowerment.

A visionary in defining Barbie’s social mission, Lisa led the global debut of the Barbie Dream Gap Project. This multi-year initiative has impacted over 25 million girls around the world and raised more than $1.5 million for nonprofit organizations that empower girls. Her service to her community does not stop there. She has served as a board member of MAKERS, a community-focused brand that exists to accelerate equity for women in the workplace, and currently is on the Board of Directors for ANA. She leads Mattel’s membership in the UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance, which is a thought and action platform that seeks to eradicate harmful stereotypes in all media and advertising content. She is also a member of Women in Toys, where she serves as a mentor to women in the toy, licensing, and entertainment industries.

Lisa is a frequent guest speaker at conferences such as the Cannes International Advertising Festival, Advertising Week, Fast Company Innovation Festival, WFA Global Marketer Conference, Fortune Most Powerful Women, Most Contagious Summit, and The Gathering Summit, which welcomed Barbie as a cult brand in 2021.

Lisa graduated from Denison with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and mass media in 1990. During her time as a student, she was an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. As an alum, Lisa has served her alma mater as a leadership volunteer and a leadership volunteer chair. She has remained a regular and committed donor to the annual fund, supporting the university’s highest priorities.

Lisa embodies what it means to be a Denison graduate — she is curious, compassionate, and actively engaged in her community and beyond. Her connections to Denison extend beyond her undergraduate education. Lisa’s father, Hon. John Kennedy Stewart, graduated from Denison in 1961, and her husband, Bill, is also a proud graduate of the Class of 1990. The two were friends in college who reconnected a few years later and married in 1998. They live in Los Angeles and have two daughters.