The NEXT Awards are about creating a level playing field that is inclusive of the entire beauty ecosystem. We’ve assembled a prestigious panel of judges committed to transparency and impartiality. The judges were chosen based on their diversity of experience, deep category knowledge, and insatiable curiosity.
Nicole Collins
Project Next Unicorn, Founder and Chief Hustler
Since 2012, Nicole has been disrupting the beauty industry by propelling dynamic start-up companies to prominence. She's a forward-thinking marketing expert and storyteller with deep expertise in brand building, strategy, influencer marketing, the subscription-box model, and social commerce. She's an entrepreneur with a highly creative mindset who advises and consults for the beauty industry's most innovative start-up companies that are recreating the space. Nicole was on the founding team that put Ipsy on the map before co-founding Yume, a company taking American brands to China. Since 2018 she has consulted for social commerce companies including Talk Shop Live, Supergreat, and Flip, as well as luxury beauty brands Augustinus Bader and Furtuna Skin.
Lorna Dragon
Estée Lauder Companies, Executive Director,
Creative Design 360 Project Innovation Direction
As Creative Design 360 Project Innovation Direction Executive Director at the Estee Lauder Companies, Lorna Dragon is responsible for Leading Upstream Innovation Platforms. In the 20th year of working at ELC, Lorna is embarking on her fourth newly created position where she thrives in making the imagined possible. Lorna brings with her a unique background and portfolio of experience across brands, regions, categories, and channels in Packaging. She accelerates in catalyzing change, strategic thinking, agile leadership, and delivering results.
Alexis Rodriguez Alvich
JLo Beauty + Lifestyle
Vice President, Consumer Marketing and Influencer Strategy
Alexis Rodriguez Alvich is an industry-recognized Communications Leader and Brand Marketer with 20+ years of experience within the beauty and fashion industries. A proven brand builder, impactful storyteller and keen navigator of strategy, she’s known for shaping consumer-centric, digital-first consumer engagement strategies that drive sales and present a lasting vision for the future sustainable growth and success of her brands. Most notably, Alexis has worked closely with industry icons Bobbi Brown and Diane von Furstenberg heading up their communications departments. With a passion for Founder brands, Alexis now serves as Vice President of Consumer Marketing & Influencer Strategy at JLo Beauty & Lifestyle.
Alyssa Auberger 
Baker McKenzie, Chief Sustainability Officer
As Chief Sustainability Officer at Baker McKenzie, Alyssa is responsible for external and internal sustainability efforts, developing the firm’s multi-practice sustainability client offering as well as overseeing its internal sustainability program, goals, and reporting. She also maintains the firm’s relationships with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the UN Global Compact, and the World Economic Forum, with a keen focus on engaging the business community on sustainability issues and promoting collaboration. Prior to becoming CSO, and with nearly 30 years of transactional experience, Alyssa was an M&A partner ranked by Legal 500 as a “Leading Individual” in luxury goods and led the firm’s Global Consumer Goods & Retail industry group.
Andrew Dent
Material ConneXion | Sandow
Executive Vice President of Research and Chief Material Scientist
Andrew Dent is the Executive Vice President of Research at Material ConneXionand Chief Material Scientist at SANDOW, Dr. Dent has helped hundreds of clients—from Whirlpool and Adidas to BMW and Procter & Gamble, as well as tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Samsung—develop or improve their products through the use of innovative materials. A leading expert on sustainable materials, his insight has played an important part in creating a new generation of more sustainable products. Dent also oversees the materials knowledge of the sampling service Material Bank.
Birnur Aral, PhD
Health, Beauty and Sustainability Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute,
Executive Director
In addition to holding MEng and PhD degrees in chemical engineering, Birnur recently added a professional certificate in sustainability management from Columbia University to her credentials. She has been an active leader in conceptualizing many of the green initiatives for the Good Housekeeping brand, including the GH Sustainable Innovation Awards and annual Raise the Green Bar Summit. Birnur and the Beauty Lab chemists also conduct the brand's annual Beauty Awards selection process, a yearlong effort for the team that involves assessing hundreds of products. She is also known for her work on investigative pieces like “Is It Safe to Heat Food in Plastic?”, “Is Your Tap Water Safe?”, and “The Truth About Keratin Hair Treatments."
Brandon L. Ford, Esq.
Lubrizol Life Science, Chief Accelerator Director
Brandon brings his entrepreneurial mindset, passion for learning, and curiosity toward life to his role operating a start-up within the walls of a 90-year-old company. He is a nurse and attorney with a BSN from Case Western Reserve University and JD /MBA from The University of Akron. For the past four years, Brandon has led the Accelerator, a program that leverages Lubrizol technology, manufacturing, and beauty and home care science expertise to provide market-ready solutions, brand development, and quick innovation. Hundreds of entrepreneurs have benefited from his charismatic leadership to launch and develop their beauty and home care brands. The Accelerator has launched over 100 products globally.
Conor BegleY
Tribe Dynamics, Co-Founder and Creator IQ, Chief Strategy Officer
In September 2021, Tribe Dynamics was acquired by CreatorIQ to create the leading influencer marketing platform for the creator economy, bringing together influencer performance management and analytics solutions to help brands and businesses. Conor has been named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Influencer Marketing by Influence Weekly and was recognized as one of the 100 Leaders of Tomorrow by St. Gallen’s Symposium.
Don Frey
Independent Beauty Association, President and CEO
Don has over 35 years of experience in developing products in the personal care, beauty, supplements, and household cleaning industries. He started his career working at Procter & Gamble learning the fundamentals of process, management, research, risk mitigation and brand management. He then went on to work at smaller companies like Jafra and Avon learning the importance of decision making in the absence of data, the importance of speed, and the true power of sales in a company. Method provided him the opportunity to work at a values-based start-up where culture drove excellence in people and product. During his tenure at Honest, Don oversaw the relaunch of approximately 90% of Honest Company's product portfolio. Don recently assumed the position of President/CEO of the Independent Beauty Association, an industry non-profit focused on helping small to mid-sized companies in the Beauty space grow and flourish.
Deanna Kangas
Strategic Growth Consulting, President
As a C-level executive with more than 25 years of experience creating, building, and scaling visionary brands, Deanna is a proven industry leader. She works with top private equity firms to analyze the purchase potential of beauty companies and was instrumental in the launch of Florence by Mills and GXVE by Gwen Stefani. She was also part of the founding team of global haircare brand Ouai. She has lent her considerable skills to businesses in various stages of growth. Deanna spent five years as CEO at Stila Cosmetics where she was charged with (and succeeded at) getting the company back on track. She turned around the Barbie Collectors division of Mattel, founded online beauty retailer Gloss.com, and launched Michael Jordan Cologne at XEL.
Millie Kendall O.B.E.
British Beauty Council, CEO
Retail maven and brand creator, Millie has been instrumental in the success of cult brands including Shu Uemura, Aveda, Tweezerman, L’Occitane, and Ruby & Millie. Having worked with the UK’s leading retailers, Millie has been creating and marketing beauty brands for the past 30 years. Millie was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to the cosmetic industry, and an OBE in 2022 for services to the hair and beauty industry. In 1998 Millie and Ruby Hammer launched Ruby & Millie, the first mid-priced makeup brand to cut across existing price and brand perception barriers, launching first in Harvey Nichols then Selfridges, and simultaneously going on to retail successfully in Boots. Millie has also collaborated with beauty journalists and Vogue beauty editor Anna-Marie Solowij to launch revolutionary retail concepts like BeautyMART. In 2015, alongside Solowij, Millie launched the PR company Brandstand Communications. In 2018, Millie Kendall, Anna-Marie Solowij, and Kate Shapland (former Telegraph Beauty Director) founded the British Beauty Council, a nonprofit organization that aims to support a successful, innovative, and inclusive British beauty industry.
Richard Kestenbaum
Triangle Capital, Partner
Richard is an investment banker focusing on mergers, acquisitions, and capital-raising for consumer-facing companies. He advises clients in merchandising businesses, particularly in the Retail and Consumer sector. Richard is an often-quoted expert on the retail and merchandising industries and a contributor to Forbes.com. He was previously a Managing Director at Financo, Inc. Before Financo, Richard was a partner and First Vice President at Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. where he ran a group of 14 professionals doing middle-market mergers and acquisitions. Richard is the co-author of three books on finance and computer programming and a former Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Business at New York University.
Dr. Akemi Ooka
Independent Beauty Association,
Head of Supply Chain and Sustainability Resources
With over 20 years of CPG experience, from Fortune 500 companies to small start-ups, Akemi’s experience ranges from product development to sourcing and supply chain transformation. Akemi has run chemical procurement at The Clorox Company, formulation and fragrance development at Method, and was most recently VP of Product at J.R. Watkins, overseeing development, quality, regulatory compliance, claim support, and third-party manufacturing oversight for hand care, personal care, home care, and OTC remedies. She now heads up the Independent Beauty Association’s (IBA) global supply chain and sustainability programming, supporting small- to medium-sized businesses in the beauty and personal care sector. Akemi holds a BA in chemistry from Rutgers University and a PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Stacia Prince
Cult Beauty, Former International Buying Director
Fascinated with the beauty industry, Stacia started her career as a “Saturday girl” for Estée Lauder while still at school. With 30 years of omnichannel beauty-buying experience, both in the US and UK, Stacia has launched countless brands into the UK market. She was part of the founding executive team at Cult Beauty. As International Buying Director for 13+ years, her curatorial eye launched brands such as Huda Beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Drunk Elephant, Summer Fridays, Tower 28, and many more. Previously she was the Skincare Buyer for QVC UK and the Niche Beauty Buyer at Debenhams. She now works as an independent advisor for start-ups, investors, and established brands, developing strategic plans for brand growth and market expansion. 
Deanna Utroske
Cosmetics Design, Former Editor, Thought Leader
Known as one of the most well-respected critical thinkers in the cosmetics and personal care industry today. As a public speaker, commentator, and trade media editor, Deanna covers key industry trends as well as ingredients, packaging, and product innovation topics. Formerly editor of Cosmetics Design, she now frequently contributes to various global cosmetics and personal care industry publications. As a consultant, Deanna develops press releases and other business content for suppliers and manufacturers, helping them grow in key B2B markets. A highly sought-after speaker, she also presents to company teams, higher-ed classrooms, and event audiences internationally.
Deborah Weinswig
Coresight Research, Founder and CEO
Between 2014 to early 2018, Deborah served as Managing Director of Fung Global Retail and Technology (FGRT), the think tank of Fung Group. Previously, she was Managing Director and Head of the Global Staples & Consumer Discretionary team at Citi Research. Deborah was ranked the #1 analyst by Institutional Investor for 10 years in a row. She was named one of the Top 50 Retail Influencers by Vend in both 2016 and 2017 and received the Asia Retail Congress’s Retail Leadership Award in 2016. She was also recognized by LinkedIn as a Top Voice in Retail in 2017 and 2018. She serves on the board of directors for Goodwill Industries New Yor k/ New Jersey, GUESS? Kiabi, Street Soccer USA, and Xcel Brands. Deborah is on the advisory board of the World Retail Congress as well as several accelerators.
Hayley Hoffman
Dandi Day, Founder and CEO
Hayley contributes a 360 degrees outlook to the Beauty Industry with almost 20 years of experience spanning professional use, retail, brand, formulations, manufacturing, and ingredient sales and marketing. Currently, she focuses on sustainability education, innovation, and community to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Her daily mission is to connect sustainable brands with meaningful service providers and ingredient manufacturers for their business success. She is an ingredient storyteller, thought leader, and B2B influencer with a vision to create a conscious community within the Beauty Industry for the well-being of people and the planet, one product and one day at a time.  
Hamish Campbell
Pearlfisher, VP and Executive Creative Director
Hamish leads and inspires the design team by setting the creative standard, continually encouraging designers to demonstrate inventive conceptual thinking and strong craftsmanship. He brings diverse international experience across branding, packaging, retail, and print design to each of his projects. Prior to moving stateside, he worked with some of London’s leading design consultancies, quickly developing a strong track record for innovative design, including award-winning work for iconic brands such as Johnnie Walker, Bacardi, and Nike. Recently, he led the strategic design team to create the Cult Beauty brand Elaluz for influencer Camila Coelho. He has also enlivened prized brands like Pyrex, Campari, Diageo, and Target. His work has been featured in publications ranging from Michael Peters’ Yes Logo book to Playboy magazine. During his career, Hamish has contributed to Entrepreneur Magazine and his brand designs have won recognition from esteemed organizations including ADC, D&AD, Clio Awards, DBA: Design Effectiveness Awards, Dieline Awards, Mobius Awards, Pentawards, and more.
Kendra Bracken-Ferguson
BrainTrust, Founder
Known as one of fashion and beauty’s most successful digital pioneers, creating the social media footprint for Ralph Lauren’s fashion empire and a co-founder of Digital Brand Architects, the first agency to manage “bloggers” as talent in 2009. Kendra is one of only 200 Black women to secure over $1MM in investment and has launched three companies. Her latest endeavor, BrainTrust Founders Studio, focuses on increasing inclusive economic opportunities for Black beauty and wellness founders providing mentorship, education, community, and capital to help them accelerate their businesses and build sustainable growth. She is Halle Berry's business partner in rē⋅spin by Halle Berry; a co-founder of BeautyUnited, a nonprofit dedicated to driving DE&I in the beauty and wellness industry; and the host of Business of the Beat beauty and wellness podcast.
Sindhya Valloppillil
Skin Dossier, Founder and CEO
Sindhya founded Skin Dossier, a hyper-personalization beauty tech start-up. She is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch, Crunchbase, and BeautyMatter; she writes about consumer tech, beauty tech, the start-up ecosystem, personalization, and solutions for diversity. Sindhya is an award-winning marketing and innovations executive with 20 years of experience working at leading beauty companies such as L’Oréal, L Brands, J&J, and Zirh. She was also an Adjunct Marketing Professor at Berkeley College and guest lecturer at Fordham Business School. She is currently on the Board of Directors of Desai Foundation and is also a Venture Partner for NextGen Venture Partners, a mentor for Techstars, and angel investor/advisor to start-ups.
Karen Young
The Young Group, CEO
Before opening The Young Group in 1999, Karen was Vice President of Marketing, Advertising, and Product Development for Lancôme, the prestige division of L'Oréal. Before joining Lancôme, she spent 17 years at Estée Lauder, where she held a variety of executive positions, including Executive Director of Color Cosmetics. Since opening The Young Group, Karen has worked extensively in all categories of the cosmetic industry. She has developed concepts and products for Dove, Bath and Body Works, Neutrogena, Vichy, and Canyon Ranch. She has worked on numerous established brands in the beauty category, including Christian Dior Beauté, Shiseido, Chanel, Parfums Givenchy, Avon, and 3M Products. Karen is an active board member of Fashion Group International. Karen is an adjunct professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology, teaching the graduate course in product development.
Susanah Zeffiro
Beauty at Spotify, Senior Client Partner
Susanah is a seasoned Media Executive passionate about the intersection of Beauty and Technology. After holding various roles in AdTech focused on Mobile, she joined Spotify, the #1 global Audio Streaming Service, in 2018. Recognizing the Beauty Industry's disproportionate focus on visual storytelling, she sought and developed the first Beauty Partnerships role & Go-To-Market strategy in Spotify's company history. In this function, Susanah consults the world's biggest Beauty Brands - pioneering consumer-first Audio solutions that leverage advertising, content and harness the vast power of Spotify to drive business impact. In 2021, Beauty was the highest growing revenue sector within Spotify's CPG Business Unit.
Sunday, April 16, 2023, 11:59 PM, PST
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Wednesday, March 14, 2023,
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