Icons, Rock Stars, & Innovators: Walter Frye

What makes 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.

Walter Frye is the Vice President of Global Brand Engagement & Design at American Express. In this role, he oversees the brand’s long-running Small Business Saturday program, the design of its cards and lounges around the world, celebrity partnerships, and multicultural marketing.


Under Walter’s leadership, American Express has expanded Small Business Saturday to a year-round campaign, investing over $200M to help small businesses recover from Covid-19 closures and resulting in two consecutive years of record spending on Small Business Saturday in 2020 and 2021. He’s also led several multi-year initiatives to support underrepresented entrepreneurs, including the launch of the Coalition to Back Black Businesses ($10M grant program) and a video podcast called “Built to Last” about the role small businesses play in the Black community.


In the past year, his team has also led design for new Centurion Lounges which opened at airports in London, New York, and Los Angeles as well as a range of new card launches. Prior to his current position, Frye was Vice President of Global Entertainment and Sports Experiences, where he negotiated and managed global deals with Live Nation, U.S. Open, Coachella, Austin City Limits, and Wimbledon. He’s also led the brand’s partnerships with wide range of artists including Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, Ariana Grande, Issa Rae, Kendrick Lamar, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Taylor Swift.


Walter serves on the Board of Directors for The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. His awards include a prime-time Emmy for Outstanding Interactive Video (with Taylor Swift), Billboard 100 Most Powerful Players in Music, AdAge 40 Under 40 and the Out100. Walter holds an MBA from Harvard Business School received a bachelor’s in Economics from Yale University.

The AD Club Foundation is proud to recognize outstanding industry professionals, during our 5th Annual Black History Month recognition series titled, “Icons, Rock Stars & Innovators”.

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, Twitter, and LinkedIn! Sponsored by    

  Check out our other content from previous years

2020 – Honorees 2019 – Sizzle Reel 2019 – Online Exhibition 2019 – Icons, RockStars, & Innovators 2018 – Icons, RockStars, & Innovators