War Toys is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation devoted to:
Advocating for children who have been affected by war, sharing their personal accounts through unique photographic collaborations;
Educating and training caregivers on the ground in expressive-therapy-based interventions, fostering psychosocial programs for war-displaced children;
Providing toys to children that comfort, promote resilience, and encourage new ways of thinking about war.
War Toys is apolitical and neutral, committed to helping all children regardless of their race, gender, nationality, or beliefs.
War Toys was founded in 2019 by photographer Brian McCarty in response to his experiences producing the War-Toys photo series. Working in the field since 2011, Brian has met hundreds of children from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, West Bank, Israel, and Gaza under the care of local and international NGOs and UN agencies. Seeing firsthand the severe effects of displacement and trauma on these children, Brian assembled a team of directors, advisors, and officers that includes experts in expressive therapy, childhood development, human rights, advocacy, and toy design & manufacturing. Together, they are continuing the advocacy work of the photo series while developing new programs and forging alliances that will positively impact the lives of children around the world.
Board of Directors & Officers
Barbara Griffin - Independent Creative Director, Producer and Photo Editor; formerly, Senior Vice President of Image Management for Turner Broadcasting. Barbara is a cornerstone of the photographic community and has served on several arts and advocacy boards. Barbara has been a longtime advisor on the War-Toys photo series.
Sarah Knuckey - Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute, Director of the Human Rights Clinic, and the Lieff Cabraser Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia Law School; Special Adviser to the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions; and International Human Rights Lawyer.
Brian McCarty (Board Chair & President) - Photographer, Art Director, Producer, and Fulbright Specialist; Publication history includes The New York Times, Reuters, Al Jazeera Plus, Washington Post, Wired, PBS News Hour, CNN, and BBC; Clients include Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon.
Jennifer McCarty-Finkel (Secretary) - Founder and Creative Director at Lumina Communications, Nonprofit Consultant; formerly, Volunteer Coordinator for Hands on Memphis (now Volunteer Memphis), Community Affairs Associate for the Saint John’s Health Center Foundation.
Judith “Judy” Rubin, PhD - Art Therapy Expert, Author, Educational Filmmaker, past President and Honorary Life Member of the American Art Therapy Association, and original cast member of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Judy has been a longtime advisor on the War-Toys photo series.
Myra Saad (Director of Healing Programs) - Art Therapist and Executive Director of Artichoke Studio in Beirut. Myra has worked as an art therapist and field collaborator on the War-Toys photo series since 2014.
Robin Savoian (Treasurer & Director of Development) - Associate Director of Development for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA); Formerly, worked with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Walt Disney World, and Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
Julia Byers, EhD - Professor Emeritus of Expressive Arts Therapy and Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University; formerly, Art Therapy Coordinator, Co-Coordinator of the Advanced Certificate in Play Therapy, and Senior Advisor for the PhD Interdisciplinary Studies and Expressive Therapy programs at Lesley University. Julia is an expert in the application of expressive therapy interventions in crisis situations and has been a longtime advisor on the War-Toys photo series.
Brown Johnson - Executive Vice President and Creative Director at Sesame Workshop; formerly, President of Animation and Preschool Entertainment at Nickelodeon. Brown has won multiple Emmy Awards, Television Critics Awards, three Peabody Awards, Imagen, and NAACP Image Awards. She serves on the advisory board of Peter Gabriel's Witness foundation, the board of governors of We Are Family Foundation, and the Ambassador Council of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Dan Owen - Partner at Olo Industries LLC, a creative agency focused on kids product and entertainment; former Vice President of Creative at Disney Consumer Products. Dan has over 25 years of product development experience with companies including Disney, Lucasfilm, Netflix, Mattel and MGAE.
Holland Roden - Actor, Producer, Humanitarian; Holland is best known for her role on MTV’s “Teen Wolf”. Her passion lies in finding socially conscious, unconventional voices and giving them a platform through documentaries and nonfiction features.
NGO / UN Support
The following organizations have graciously provided access and in-kind support to War Toys:
IOM / The UN Migration Agency • Terre des Hommes Italia • Kayany Foundation • Spafford Children's Center • United Nations Relief and Works Agency • Israel Trauma Coalition • Nader Association • Amel Community Center for Refugees
Deepest gratitude goes to all of the amazing children who have contributed their voices to War Toys as well as: Paul Vester, Judy Rubin, Julia Byers, Myra Saad, Sarah Baba, Firas Suqi, Nora Jumblatt, Dr. Jantien Dajani, Terre des Hommes Italia, Miriam Ambrosini, Gharib Rauf, Mika Fowler, IOM / UN Migration Agency, Ashley Carl, UNICEF France, Maud Saheb, War Child Lebanon, Andres Gonzalez, St. Lawrence University, Catherine Tedford, Potato Productions, Dr. Anne Stewart, Dr. Kasim Al-Mashat, Christopher Gunness, Matthew Reynolds, Milina Shahin, Shareef Sarhan, Mazen Naim, Ashraf Al-Masry, Dr. Ahmed Abu Tawahina, Ghassan E. Ghosn, Asieh Namdar, Larry Register, Cyndi Strand, Anne Paq, GANSO, Christina Cahill, Stacy Woods, Talia Levanon, Dr. Benjamin Epstein, Ibdaa Cultural Center, The American Colony, Robert Myers, Arne Dietrich, Barbara Griffin, Tracey Eid, Sofi Jagbrant, Samo Saleh, Farj Alakrb, Al-Fakhura Preparatory School, Elise Mad, Asma Elementary School, Sderot Center for Young Adults, Ornit Rozenblat, Dafna Moriya, Cynthia Raskin, Iafi Shpirer, Simone Tabib, Noam Bedein, Dina Khoury, Sderot Media Center, AMIT Torani Mada'i School, Bill Colitre, Montaser Alul, Miruna Garabet, Slien Joia, Julie Land, Yousef Hammad, PhotoFlex, GoPro, SPOT, and Manfrotto/Gitzo.