2016 Award Winners

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I feel like I keep saying this but…WOW. Truly blown away by the nominations and all the feedback you have given and the love being spread throughout the industry today!

Congrats to every single nominee, but below we have YOUR 2016 Award Winners!

1UO4UqzRThe Force is Strong With This One

Best New Community Manager

James Bowden – @Dalagonash

Not even a year Into the job, and he has put on some amazing community events for one of the best companies in the world. From keeping the fort down at consumer events like Hyper Japan Festival 2015 to hosting the brilliant Super Mario Maker launch party in September 2015, he makes sure everyone is having a good time, everything is running smoothly and I’d have to say, that is just pure dedication. Fantastic, Stay Fresh!

James became Nintendo’s Community Manager in early 2015 after working with them for years on such projects such as StreetPassUK. He is always friendly, diplomatic and prepared to go that extra mile for his community members

Not only has James helped out all the fan-run events since his arrival at Nintendo UK last March, but he also put on the best community event/game launch event back in September of last year for Super Mario Maker, in which he also convinced Nintendo themselves to bring over the voice of Super Mario himself, Charles Martinet, to make the event extra special.


wsucwFFSTraffic Controller

Follows processes and quickly routes issues to the correct department

Alissa Trumbull – @AnOrchidInBloom

Alissa is able to take the issues that come up and get them through the GR process and resolved for the clients quickly and calmly without adding extra issues along the way.

Alissa has many CMGR skills, but remaining calm under pressure is a big one. Alissa makes sure that each fan & follower gets her attention & she takes time when issues arise to get the best result for our client, the fan & the team. She is an asset to our team & a great Community Manager

Alissa Trumbull should win the CMAD award for Traffic Controller because of her ability and desire to follow processes. She always takes the appropriate steps to make sure things are done correctly or handed off to the proper person. Not only does she get things where they need to be, but she also takes the time to follow up to ensure that everything is going smoothly. She will be the first to give you an update on outstanding issues, and does what she can to help out where needed.


55f4251a6521f59c524929ebd775b0f4The Diplomat

Handles all interactions with tact and grace 

Bassey Etim – @BasseyE

Bassey Etim leads the 14 member Community desk at The New York Times. He has experienced community management at the very highest levels of the media. As such, he has taken criticism from all sides.

The Times seeks to have a community space that matches the editorial quality of the publication itself, which requires moderation. In the community space, we talk about people who demand their supposed “free speech” rights on the communities we manage. Now imagine that you are responsible for community for one of the world’s foremost news organizations. Free speech takes on a different meaning.

Predictably, Bassey receives plenty of criticism. From community members, unhappy that their comment wasn’t published. From other journalism professionals, who feel the Times has too heavy a hand. From anti-“censorship” advocates, for the same reason. From The New York Times’ public editor who, to be fair, exists to be the readers’ advocate at the Times.

Most of the criticism comes from people who have no idea about the challenges of community management at the scale of which Bassey operates, in creating a safe, engaging, rewarding community space for the Times readers.

It’s a highly visible, high pressure community role.

But I have never seen Bassey respond with anything less than patience, thoughtfulness and aplomb. His grace, in navigating and responding to this criticism, is a credit to the Times and to our profession.


SlNleE0gThe People’s Champion

Takes time to acknowledge brand advocates and community standouts

David Spinks – @davidspinks

David Spinks exemplifies the community profession, and in particular holds a clear identity and vision for the way our industry can grow.

David is the epitome of community.

He is smart, savvy, kind, and most of all, he leads a solid business model, building brick by brick, a strong foundation with which to layer in all the necessary attributes of an industry that can change our world and move businesses forward, from the mom-and-pop on your local corner, to the enterprise level.

David recognizes the humanity in everything a great community professional embodies, and he fosters this with his consistent efforts through all the vehicles he’s led so far, including CMX Summit.

The fact that David also recognizes unique and talented people to work alongside him (like the amazing Carrie Jones) only proves that his leadership as a champion of our industry is undeniable.



Fastest Fingers

Quickest Response Time

Dina Vekaria – @dinavekaria

I actually don’t know when Dina sleeps. She works in the UK and I am in Canada and I see her online replying to our colleagues queries every hour I’m awake. Our employees (40,000 globally) know that they will get a reply to any questions almost immediately. If not with an answer immediately, at least with a friendly ‘I’m not sure but I’ll find out and post back soon’. This trust and reliance makes her my nomination for Fastest Fingers!


Funniest Community Manager

Tommy Carpenter – @Sacheverell_

Best dad jokes ever! He is also quick to think up great funny comments that have to do with all current events. He is also overall a really amazing guy and the a huge part of our Minecraft community!


Alex ShebarLets Take This Offline

Best at activating in-person events

Alex Shebar @AlexShebar

I would like to nominate Alex because he organises great events, which unite a whole community. A stand out event was the mulled wine festival when yelp took over Covent Garden for several days. This encouraged people who didn’t know anything about Yelp to sign up and join the community, drawing in people from abroad and also the UK.

He creates exciting, innovative events, which showcase some hidden gems in London, which many people don’t know about it.

One of his strengths is he generates momentum for events, before, during and after. He does this by sending out emails, which are funny and really draw people in. At the events, he really makes the effort to talk to everyone and make sure they feel part of the event and have the best time. His speeches are very funny, and show a really love for what he does!

You couldn’t pick a more deserving winner than Alex! He epitomises what a great community manager should be.

He’s always up for something fun. I think he’s made of rainbows! 

I’m nominating the amazing Alex because he’s the absolute coolest person to ever do anything anywhere. *puts on reading glasses to appear more intelligent* I remember going to my first yelp event and thinking “what the hell is this and how do I get involved?” Alex came over, huge smile, glossy hair . He spoke to me for a few minutes and made me say “this is amazing, how can I make my life only about these things?”

He has to be the friendliest person I’ve ever met! And the events he organises? Always out of the box. He gets so involved in the meeting of people that it always shocks me to see they already know him. The yelp events wouldn’t be the same without Alex. *wipes tear*  And this is why Alex should win! There’s gotta be some type of reward due for his fantastic nature! GO ALEX!!!!

There is no one better to win this award than Alex. Not only are his events the best ever and I mean EVERRRRRRRR but he really makes you feel welcome! He’s friendly,approachable and tons of fun! Without him I don’t think Yelp could be the same nor the events so for that reason I believe he deserves this award!

Alex is fantastic at both organising AND facilitating offline events.

First, he has endless ideas on what types of event people would be interested in. He then successfully liaises with the appropriate people to host the most well-organised events. The range of events he organises is wide — I have attended big events where multiple merchants set up tents at a Shoreditch venue to more intimate events where twelve-ish of us tried out a new Vietnamese restaurant near Charing Cross. All events have been an attestation to Alex’s top-notch organisation skills.

Second, once we are at the event, he strikes the right balance between voicing over information about the restaurant and its owner, and giving freedom for people to experiment and network on their own. His facilitation skills allow people to both learn valuable information about restaurants and build their own web of Yelp friends which might be the reason why people come back and come back and come back again to his events!

All in all, I highly support Alex’s nomination for Let’s Take This Offline!

So I have been a community professional for a while, and that still never stops me from being impressed when I see a Community Manager do a kick-ass job.

I am lucky enough to have been a Yelp Elite for the last few years and have Alex as a “fearless leader” (as he calls himself). And besides being able to pull off one hell of an event, Alex is amazing at making people feel valuable, special while getting the best out of them. Because yes, you can only be an Elite if you work for it, and he never lets you take it for granted.

I am, and have always been, a true believer in the relationship between online and offline when building a community. And I honestly don’t think I could have done my job as well as I have without the cycle of bringing people together online, and then to an event offline (or vice versa)

Plus, I love throwing a good party!

I won this award last year (thank you for that by the way) and I’m going for my second run at it. I wouldn’t nominate myself though, if I honestly didn’t think that I had taken everything I learned in the year before and made it bigger, better, and even more community driven.

Some highlights from last year: I did London’s first micro pig pignic (or “The Pignic”), as a way to showcase local London locations, food, drinks, and educate people about what it takes to own a little pig. It literally went viral and was featured on The BBC, London Live, and American channels and programs like NBC, ABC and on Good Morning America and in Stylist, Time Out, Londonist and other amazing publications. I also did London’s First Mulled Wine Festival on Covent Garden’s famous east piazza. I expected about 500 people a night, but got over 2,000 every day for the festival. And then, above and beyond this, I did events big and small every week throughout the entire year, bringing together the entire community time after time to make them grow and stronger.

We’ve already begun again this year. We’re planning London’s Worst Gameshow to happen next week and then a giant salon event the month after called Hairway to Heaven. It’s going to be excellent.

Again, I love offline events and can’t stress how important they are. They help to create a place for everyone. People ask me all the time how to grow a community and the answer is simple – give them a place to belong. Don’t trick them or inceltivize or pay them to be there, but instead, make them feel welcome, validated, at home in your community. Make them feel like they belong because they do belong. And that’s exactly what offline events do.

Having been a yelper for 6 years now I’ve been lucky enough to see the uk community grow and develop.

Alex’s events are the hearts of this, fun, innovative and always surprising they are the glue that has made us a Yelp family even in a city the size of London


Blaise Grimes-ViortCMGR Choice Award

A lifetime achievement award for the person nominated the most by fellow community managers

Blaise Grimes Viort – @blaisegv

Just because he is Blaise and he knows everything there is to know about running a successful community!

Blaise is a phenomenal Community Manager. He is a great leader, extremely knowledgeable, has wonderful insights, and is an all around fantastic guy. If anyone in this industry deserves the award, it’s Blaise. He’s the real deal.

Blaise has been a huge presence in the Online Community Community for many years and has supported both new and experienced community managers. He is the Community Manager’s Community Manager … there is no one better.

Blaise has done an amazing job of building and cultivating new community talent at Emoderation and has given a lot to the worldwide community manager community. He definitely deserves the CMGR’s choice award.

Blaise always gives so much, has years of experience to share and also leads by example. He’s not only my boss, but my mentor too, and thoroughly deserves the CMGRs Choice Award.

Blaise has driven community management as a discipline for over 15 years now and is still constantly innovating and experimenting. He has embraced new technologies, new ways of working but still remains true to the culture of community. He is also admired and respected by so many people globally and he is obsessive about passing on his knowledge. He absolutely deserves to be recognized for pushing the industry forward.

Congratulations, winners! I want to extend a truly deep thank you to all the awards sponsors and the awards committee. Looking forward to next year already.


Dom Garrett

Community Manager at BTC Revolutions
Dom is a Community Manager at BTC Revolutions and is a Social Media Junkie. He is a huge sports fan and will find a community to sports parallel just about everywhere he can. He is a Co-Host of #CMGRHangout where he says “awesome” enough to warrant a twitter account that counts the time. He is a rabid fan of any and all things Michigan State. Tweet him, he likes to chat.

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