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Jennifer Appleby


Penn State University, Bachelor of Arts, Graphic Design


Charlotte Executive Leadership Council


Community Advocate



Jennifer Appleby served on the Digital Marketing Program Advisory Board from 2021-2022. Jennifer is a business leader and community advocate whose passion and creativity have fueled the transformation of her agency and the community in which she lives. 

Appleby was former president and chief creative officer of marketing communications agency Wray Ward in 2001 and today is the agency owner. Her vision guided Wray Ward through a strategic repositioning and reorganization that shifted the agency’s focus to its home category expertise and significantly expanded its services. Today, the agency provides inspired marketing solutions to help solve complex challenges while delivering meaningful results. Teams in insights, design, UX, motion, photography, performance media, client engagement, public relations, social media, content marketing and delivery collaborate, nurture creativity and inspire better performing work. 

Appleby recently oversaw the design of the agency’s new space and transition into a work environment that brought its office area, collaboration spaces and production studios under one roof for the first time. The 39,000-square-foot adaptive reuse and new construction project is in the city’s emerging FreeMoreWest area. With a specialty in the home and building products categories, Wray Ward integrated client products such as VELUX skylights, Floor & Decor tile, Sherwin-Williams paint colors and more into the build with a design that captures the agency’s creative culture and is well suited to host an agency of more than 130 collaborators. 

A creative community advocate, Appleby influenced an office design for Wray Ward that offers small and large collaboration spaces for creative workshops, panel discussion and gatherings, and a nearly 3,000 square-foot in-house studio area available to the community’s photographers, production managers and producers for their shoots. 

She has held strategic leadership positions in many transformative community projects. She is past board chair of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board of Trustees, which under her leadership refreshed its brand and is developing a new main library that will be a hub of culture, education and community connection. She served as board chair of the Arts & Science Council, chaired its Annual Fund Drive and has served on the Public Art Commission. She serves on the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council and served on the executive committee of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance and on the Central Piedmont Community College Foundation Board. 

Appleby was selected as the inaugural Business Innovator in Residence at the nationally renowned contemporary art center, McColl Center for Art + Innovation. Building on that experience, Appleby serves on the executive committee of Charlotte Center City Partners and is co-chair for Charlotte Center City’s 2040 Vision Plan. 

Additionally, Appleby extends her community commitment to efforts to make Charlotte a safer, more vibrant and inclusive community. She launched the Wray Ward EmpoWWer service-grant program, created to support community initiatives and continue its tradition of giving back. Framed by three pillars — creativity, shelter and advancement — EmpoWWer provides deserving organizations with an opportunity to apply for resources of time and talent. EmpoWWer also gives agency employees a chance to get involved in supporting important causes. This past year, Appleby also led Wray Ward and a consortium of agencies creating Mecklenburg County’s Count on Me campaign, through which they raised awareness of the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A dedicated supporter of critical human services organizations, Appleby also has served in task force and leadership roles for a variety of organizations including Goodwill of the Southern Piedmont and United Way of Central Carolinas. 

She has been recognized professionally throughout her career, including being a recipient of the Charlotte BusinessWoman of the Year Award from Queens University’s McColl School of Business, the Charlotte Business Journal’s Women in Business Achievement and Most Admired CEOs lists, and the Business North Carolina’s Power Lists in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. Additionally, Appleby has been recognized with the Ad Club Silver Medal Award and the Arts & Architecture Alumni Award from her alma mater, Penn State University.

Jennifer Appleby

Former President and Chief Creative Officer

Wray Ward