Past Chairman, JWT; Past Chairman & CEO, Ogilvy & Mather; Undersecretary of State, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Charlotte Beers has been nicknamed “the most powerful woman in advertising” and “the queen of Madison Avenue,” and has graced the cover of Fortune Magazine and Business Week as one of America’s most influential women. She started her career with as the first female product manager for Uncle Ben’s. She revolutionized major ad campaigns through her pioneering work on product branding.

When Beers was working on an account with Sears Roebuck, the management at Sears was skeptical of a woman handling all of their advertising. In her first meeting with the executives, she delivered a pitch about the “heart of the product” while she casually took apart and reassembled a power drill. She won over the executives and won the account. She is the only executive in the advertising industry to have served as chairman of two of the top-10 worldwide advertising agencies: J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather. From her position as the first woman product manager for a major brand to being the first chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Charlotte Beers has led the world in excellence in advertising.

To change America's brand, Beers drew on her expertise in communication and marketing in her most recent and challenging role as the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. From the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2003, Beers was charged with engaging the world on behalf of the United States. Beers brought in modern marketing and communication techniques to jump-start a dialogue with a large part of the world in which there was only silence or hostility toward the United States.

By the time Undersecretary Beers stepped down, the State Department had fielded and evaluated stories of Muslim Americans in television, radio and magazines and had begun an interactive dialogue with Muslim countries, launched an Arabic youth magazine and funded the creation of “American Rooms” and other new television programming for the Middle East. Upon her departure, General Colin Powell awarded Beers the Distinguished Service Medal—the highest honor the State Department bestows.

A fundamental rule of advertising is that a good brand has, at its heart, the key traits that make up its essence. Charlotte Beers has, at her core, traits that brand her a pioneer, a trendsetter and a role model.