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Meet the 2022 Influence Awards Judges!

Kaela Johnson
Written By
Kaela Johnson
Published On
Nov 03, 2022
A collage of The Influence Awards judges

Curated by The Influence Agency, The Influence Awards is a celebration of the extraordinary work of digital content creators across multiple categories and platforms in both Canada and the US.

The ten finalists for each influencer and agency category are judged and hand-selected by a panel of judges—and the winners are chosen by you.

Meet our 2022 panel of judges who’ve made their mark in the influencer marketing scene with their industry expertise and extraordinary vision!

Laura Silver

Laura Silver

Blue Door Agency’s Founder and CEO, Laura Silver, loves working with content creators to bring their stories to life in unique and compelling ways.

In the future, she sees brands committing to longer-term partnerships with creators versus one-off projects, which will allow for more authenticity across the board. She also anticipates “more nano and micro-influencers being selected by big brands for their authentic voices and engagement.”

When she’s not busy with her Founder and CEO duties, you might just find her drinking Rosé on a boat where she’s accompanied by her husband and baby girl!

Stephanie Joseph-Flatts

Stephanie Joseph-Flatts

Stephanie Joseph-Flatts was a judge at last year’s The Influence Awards and is returning this year. As the one who manages Youth & Young Adult Marketing at RBC, she is curious to see how the influencer industry will adapt from 2D to 3D with the metaverse.

When asked what her favourite social media platform is, she mentioned how she appreciates TikTok’s innovative take on content and its virality. Stephanie Joseph-Flatts also highlights Instagram as a favourite because of its versatility and how it speaks to her generation. She believes the platforms offer a contrasting experience catering to millennials vs. Gen Z but are accessible to all.

Her relatability extends beyond her vision as a professional—proving that she’s just like us, she admits that 90’s slow jams where she can embarrassingly belt out the bridge and the ad-libs are her go-to karaoke songs.

Andrew Verescak

 Andrew Verescak

The Founding Partner of Bridge Digital Inc., Andrew Verescak, thinks that the medium of text before images is powerful as it opens creativity and connection for people beyond just pictures—which is why he loves the chaos that is Twitter.

On what it’s been like working with influencers, he shares that he’s floored at the passion, professionalism, and creativity they bring to the table.

His all-time favourite influencer campaign is that of Zach Galifianakis, Tim Heidecker, and Eric Wareheim with Absolut Vodka where they were commissioned to make a film for their website. The trio was told they could do anything they wanted as long as they mentioned the product—which Verescak sees as a brilliant example of not stifling creativity.

Melissa Ahlstrand

Melissa Ahlstrand

As the Marketing Director of NBC Universal’s Hayu streaming platform, Melissa Ahlstrand sees the influencer marketing industry headed in a direction of continued but more sophisticated use of new technology. She also predicts the rise of creators that thoroughly understand the nuisances of each platform and available tools.

Ahlstrand shares that her team only works with influencers and content creators who already have an affinity for the brand and who are fans of their content, as it’s “the best way to get stellar work done.”

She’s also quite the advocate for kindness. When asked if she could do anything for a day, Ahlstrand says she would “Pop down to NYC, be with my family, eat all my favourite things, shop with an unlimited budget —for myself and to buy items to give away to those in need.” We’re glad to welcome her back as a judge for The Influence Awards!

LaToya Shambo

LaToya Shambo

As the CEO of Black Girl Digital, LaToya Shambo sees that there are a lot of moving parts in the creator economy—and no one company should have to do it all. She thinks the industry is headed in a direction of more smaller, specialized, solution-based companies popping up as well as more regulations.

LaToya Shambo has been brokering brand partnerships for Black creators since 2016. And her favourite influencer campaign to date is their heartfelt Vh1 campaign promoting their Dear Mama show.

Toni Rufo

Toni Rufo

Toni Rufo is the Head of Client Services at Blue Ant Plus—and she believes we’ll continue to see sophistication and standardization in the influencer marketing industry in terms of the value exchange and metrics. More integrated brand collaborations with influencers having an impact on products and business decisions are also something she sees in the future of this growing industry. And she’s back once again to judge this year’s The Influence Awards!

Her current favourite campaign is that of Charli and Dixie D’Amelio with Abercrombie’s Social Tourist brand. Toni Rufo loves how it looks like they were given full creative control as the brand helped them bring their fashion vision to life.

Killian Abuan

Killian Abuan

If Killian Abuan, the Senior Social Strategist at Likeable could do anything for a day, she’d travel to the Peruvian Andes and hang with alpacas—who wouldn’t like that idea?

She’s worked with influencers since 2016 and content creators within the past few years, facilitating content partnerships for lifestyle and foodie brands. Most recently, Killian Abuan spearheaded communications for a nutrition brand, where she worked closely with The Influence Agency in creating not only evergreen influencer partnerships but also seasonal campaigns surrounding new product launches, geo-targeted campaigns and more.

Bryan Kingston

Bryan Kingston

On karaoke nights, you can expect Bryan Kingston, the Senior Manager of Integrated Media at Hasbro, to belt out “Incomplete” by the Backstreet Boys.

He’s been working with influencers and creators for 5+ years on various levels—and when asked where he sees the influencer marketing industry headed, he expects brands will continue to evolve in the field. Sharing that it’s becoming a cluttered space, Bryan Kingston believes more authenticity and more long-term partnerships will be key.

Raenah Hawkins

Raenah Hawkins

If Raenah Hawkins wasn’t the Consumer Communications Specialist at Iovate Health Sciences International Inc, Six Star Pro Nutrition, then she would be the President of the United States—that’s exactly what she chose when asked if she could do anything for a day.

Her vision for the influencer marketing industry is just as valiant; Raenah Hawkins sees it growing tremendously, with nano and micro-influencers being key to the growth and impact.

Witness The Influence Awards Unfold

These industry experts know exactly what it takes to shine bright in the influencer marketing scene—and they know a stellar influencer when they see one.

Are you excited to see which of your favourite influencers will triumph at this year’s The Influence Awards?

Then join in on the countdown on the official site and get ready to cast your vote!

Click here to look back at last year’s winners.

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