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30th Annual Communicator Winners are Announced   SEE MORE

Juror Spotlight: John Cornthwait

John Cornthwait

Partner & Vice President of Products, Firefli


John Cornthwait is Partner + Vice President of Products at Firefli, guiding clients through the entire process of creating a new product from ideation to go-live. With nearly 20 years of experience working with a range of clients from local government to global Fortune 500 companies, Cornthwait leads the company’s product division with a passion for helping organizations in advocacy and emerging technology.

He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Roanoke College, a M.S. in Information Architecture and User Experience Design from Kent State University, with certification by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. Cornthwait currently serves as a college instructor at Virginia Tech, and is a popular speaker at WordCamps across the country.

Outside of his professional life, John is a big community advocate. He sits on the executive board of Restoration Housing and is a member of the Roanoke Arts Commission.


What top five brands are you following currently?

· King Arthur Baking Company
· Clarkson Potter
· Vego Garden
· Room & Board
· Framebridge

Are there any podcasts you recommend?

I skew towards comedy and cooking podcasts for a brain break. My favorites right now are:

· Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone
· Best Friends with Nicole Byer Sasheer Zamata
· Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
· Milk Street Radio

What TV series are you in love with?

I’m a proud, die-hard Trekkie who started with VOYAGER when my mom introduced me to it as a teenager. While I cycle through the rest of the franchise, I always come back to Captain Janeway.

What emerging companies should we keep our eyes on?

I’ve got my sights set on Naborforce, a Virginia-based startup. They offer on-demand assistance for tasks that are usually handled by friends, family, or neighbors, like help around the house or a ride to an appointment. I believe startups like Naborforce will become increasingly popular as the demands on the sandwich generation increase.

What was your first job?

I was 15 and hired as a busser in the dining room of a senior living facility.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

My work day always starts with an obscenely large cold brew that’s my trusty sidekick as I bounce between team meetings, client workshops, and teaching. I like to keep my schedule loose and agile, with a few reserved blocks for focused work, so I can be there for my team when they need me.

What are your top three mobile apps?

· Pokémon GO (Add me! 7900 4554 0396)
· Reddit
· YouTube

Are there any Youtube series you have followed extensively?

My current YouTube fixation is @antichef and his magic bowl tricks.

What do you think integrated marketing will look like in 10 years?

I think we’re going to see platforms emerge that consolidate multiple channels into easier to consume ways with a focus on quality over quantity.

What are you looking for in awards entries?

A strong balance of creativity and practicality. I want something to get my attention and have a clear goal.

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