Icons, RockStars, & Innovators: Carol H. Williams

What makes you an Icon?

Your authentic and influential leadership style that has contributed to your trailblazing career success. You have broken barriers, overcome adversity, and as a result, are a role model to many.

Carol H. Williams – Owner, President, CEO & Chief Creative Officer

Carol H. Williams founded Carol H. Williams Advertising (CHWA) more than three decades ago after recognizing the need for advertising that speaks to the sophisticated and influential African American and ethnic markets.  A senior executive with demonstrated year-after-year success, Williams has extensive experience within creative environments, understanding critical business drivers in multiple markets and industries and is highly successful in building relationships between clients and their consumers. Williams’ success in delivering customer-focused, award-winning advertising and creative communication campaigns and her performance=driven leadership, have led and motivated more than 5,000 employees over a 30+ year owned and operated business, exceeding $30 million in revenue during high-performance and growth periods. 

Started in 1986 in Williams’ living room, CHWA now has offices in Oakland, California; Chicago; and New York City, servicing global clients. Throughout her career, Williams and her highly diverse and skilled staff, produces award-winning advertising and has created iconic advertising and marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, including General Motors, 2020 US Census, East Bay Community Foundation – COVID-19, General Mills, Kraft, Gilead Sciences, US Bank, HP, Union Bank, Allstate Insurance, Procter & Gamble, the U.S. Army, The Walt Disney Company, Nationwide Insurance, Bank of America,Marriott, and many others.   She frequently serves as an advisor in areas that impact the Black/African American community.  She served as Visiting Professor in Residence for University of Texas/Austin’s Moody College of Communication, presented to corporations like Microsoft and Hallmark in authentic engagement with consumers, minority employee resource groups within areas where communications to improve relationships begin. 

An industry-recognized leader with demonstrated year-after-year success achieving revenue and business growth for her clients, in 2017, Williams was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Fame, becoming its first African-American female creative inductee. Williams received the David Bell Award Recipient for Industry Service, an honor bestowed to only exceptional individuals that have changed the industry for the better. In 2020, Williams was the recipient of the NY Women In Communications’ “Matrix Award” and was bestowed with the honor of selecting the New York Festival® Carol H. Williams “Together For Better” Bowery Award.

Prior to starting her firm, Williams served as Senior Vice President, Creative Director at Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) in San Francisco.  While at FCB, she was the lead on managing the Clorox, Armour-Dow and Pacific Bell business.  She was promoted to Deputy Executive Creative Director.  FCB served as her first foray for launching new products.

Williams started her career at Leo Burnett Company in Chicago creating award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 companies,  Williams became Burnett’s first African American Female Creative Director and Vice President.  

Williams is a sought after influencer, known for creating relevant, iconic representative communications that shape our conversations. Her voice and presence continue to engage discussions, creating opportunities within campaigns where diversity, equity, and inclusion thrive.   She has received numerous professional honors and community awards during her career. Passionate about community service, she has used her talent and resources to help dozens of philanthropic endeavors, including the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, U.S. Dream Academy, National Newspaper Publishers Association and numerous local community organizations. A native of Chicago, Carol has a daughter, Carol Hood, a creative writing graduate fellow and VP/digital creative director. 

Follow Carol on Twitter, Instagram and find her on LinkedIn!


The ACNY Foundation is proud to recognize outstanding industry professionals, during our 4th Annual Black History Month recognition series titled, “Icons, Rock Stars & Innovators”.

It is our way of shining the spotlight on exemplary talent, integral to the evolution and growth of the advertising industry. Each day during Black History Month we profile a selected “Icon, Rock Star & Innovator” across all our digital platforms. Though we cannot be together in person, the spirit of our history and the legacy of our excellence lives on in us. Follow the series on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

P.S. Check out our other content from previous years

2020 – Honorees

2019 – Sizzle Reel

2019 – Online Exhibition

2019 – Icons, RockStars, & Innovators

2018 – Icons, RockStars, & Innovators


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