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What an Innovation Award Nomination Can Do

Blair Cohen

Editor's Note: The 2022 Innovation Awards were a beautiful success! We're excited to share that nominations and submissions for the 2023 awards are now open. Take a peek at these stories to learn more about the reach of this esteemed recognition in our industry.

Every year at Relativity Fest, the Innovation Awards celebrate individuals and organizations who have had an impact in the legal, compliance, and technology world. As Relativity has grown, so have the Innovation Awards. What started as a small celebration has turned into a full-blown awards show that rivals the Oscars. (At least in the sense that, when we last hosted the Innovation Awards in person, we had a red carpet.)

Innovation Awards Red Carpt

Though the glitz and glamour are fun, a nomination for an Innovation Award also has a big impact on someone’s career—and our past winners and nominees can prove it. We recently sat down with a few of them to hear what this recognition has meant to them.

And by the way: nominations for the 2023 Innovation Awards are now open! Keep an eye on this page to learn more, nominate a peer, and submit your best apps.

Stephanie Clerkin, Stellar Women Winner 2019:

It’s been three years, but I still remember how surprised and excited I was to be a nominee, finalist, and eventual winner of the Stellar Woman Innovation Award. Being part of the Innovation Awards has helped me network with countless other legal tech folks, especially other women, and has opened the door to more than 10 speaking engagements and counting.

Kenya Dixon, Stellar Women Winner 2020:

My nomination for the Innovation Award for Stellar Women in e-Discovery in 2020 was very meaningful to me and I am still extremely grateful for the recognition. I had just left many years of government service, and Relativity chose to recognize me the first year that I was able to accept such an award. As a government employee, and one that was often the decision-maker regarding the purchase and implementation of technology in government agencies, I was conflicted out of these types of events. When you are a member of a community, but you cannot participate in private sector awards, you often don’t know what your peers think about the work that you do. The nomination provided me an opportunity to work with the Relativity team and gave me a platform to discuss the work that I had done and am currently doing. The nomination opened the private sector space and welcomed me in.

Damon Goduto, Lineal Services, Community Choice Award Winner, 2021:

Winning the Innovation Award provided validation for what we built, but more importantly, it brought a whole new set of eyes to our developments. People (customers, peers, partners) who had never heard of me or my companies suddenly had a reason to take my call and see what we were up to. There are few stamps of approval in our industry that carry that level of weight and can open doors the same way.

Pavan Kotha, Lit Support All-Star Winner 2019:

Getting nominated for Relativity’s Innovation Awards made me realize that there is at least one person out there who appreciates and values what I do and, most importantly, that I did make an impact. The spotlight on me brought in a new consciousness of what I do and what I say, because sometimes a small action or gesture may create a huge impact for someone else out there and you may not be even aware of it.

Rachel McAdams, Lit Support All-Star Winner, 2020:

Being nominated for an Innovation Award made me feel appreciated for all my efforts on behalf of my clients. The Innovation Awards are really a lovely way for the community to celebrate our successes and the dedicated individuals who make those successes possible.

Nikolai Pozdniakov, Lit Support All-Star Winner 2021:

Winning an Innovation Award showed me industry recognition for the work I put in. I received many "congratulations, you deserve it" messages. My social media and software development presence received more visibility, which increased views on my YouTube videos. When I won the award, there was a brief moment of disbelief followed by surprise that immediately turned to joy. I was very happy to be selected by industry peers for such a prestigious award. The joy of winning was shared by my entire team as we celebrated and shared this occasion on social media.

Maribel Rivera, Inclusion Breakthrough Winner, 2020:

Receiving the inaugural Relativity Innovation Award in the Inclusion Breakthrough category, to me, was absolutely phenomenal. I didn’t expect it. I never thought I deserved an award for just doing what I found normal and right: respecting and including others no matter who they are or where they come from, mentoring, volunteering, and putting love, hope and joy into the world. This was just inspiration to keep going on the path I'm on because I am making a difference that is acknowledged by my peers. More than anything, I hope it inspires others to embrace differences that will promote equal opportunity and facilitate inclusiveness.

Sara Skeens, In-House Tech Evangelist Winner 2019, Academic Innovator Winner 2021:

Winning the Innovation Award a few years ago made me realize that what I was doing made a difference somewhere and inspired me to take my ideas to help our community and really put them into practice. When I won again for academic innovation a few years later, it really connected me back to how this community fueled and inspired me to believe in my ideas for helping others and have the confidence to put myself out there with those ideas. Being recognized by your peers can fill your heart with so much joy and give you that little push you need to really believe in your ideas and push yourself to continue to grow and innovate.

Cristin Traylor, Attorney Tech Evangelist Winner, 2018:

I really appreciated that someone took the time to nominate me, especially when I know we are all so busy with our everyday lives. Winning the Innovation Award inspired me to raise my own internal bar on tech transformation—in the law firm setting and just as Cristin. It set me on a path to Relativity, where I am further cultivating my innovative spirit by solving problems for our customers.

Themes of recognition, passion, and connection in our community certainly resonate among our past winners.

At Relativity, we look forward to the Innovation Awards all year to celebrate the changemakers in our community. I love walking down memory lane and reminiscing with our past winners. These folks have laid the foundation for future winners and set the bar high for what we look for in our nominations.

We can’t wait to see who you choose to raise the bar even higher for this year’s nominees.

Share Your Submissions for the 2023 Innovation Awards at Relativity Fest

Blair Cohen is a brand program manager at Relativity, representing the company with enthusiasm, authenticity, and her flair for humor. When she isn't shining a light on women in tech via Stellar Women or cracking jokes on the main stage at Relativity Fest, you can find her running around Chicago finding the best places to eat with her dog, Goose.