Jeri Ward, senior vice president and chief communications officer for Audi of America, has been named Northwestern University’s new vice president for global marketing and communications.
Ward, who starts at NU Oct. 1, will report directly to President Morton Schapiro.
Ward, a 2001 Northwestern alumna with dual graduate degrees from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and the McCormick School of Engineering, returns to Evanston after holding a variety of marketing and communications roles at Ford Motor Company and Audi.
“Jeri brings significant experience as a marketing and communications executive with expertise in marketing strategy and branding, crisis communications and leadership in complex, global organizations,” said President Schapiro. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her return to her alma mater and join our team at a time when Northwestern increasingly has a compelling story to tell.”
Ward was the first female vice president at Audi of America. During her tenure there she handled brand, product, lifestyle, corporate and crisis communications for the premium carmaker.
At Northwestern she will be responsible for driving the university’s global branding and communications strategy. This includes advising Northwestern’s president, senior leadership and board on top-level communications and shaping the university’s global marketing approach.
Global Marketing and Communications is a recently created department merging the Department of University Relations and the Office of Global Marketing.
She’ll supervise a team of more than 50 employees.
“I am thrilled to return to Northwestern University and excited to work with our faculty and staff,” Ward said. “Together we will continue to elevate Northwestern University’s profile and reputation, to ensure that this academic community can gain the support and resources it needs to carry out its remarkable, world-changing mission.”
Ward earned her bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering at Kettering University. After launching her career in powertrain engineering at General Motors, she went on to earn her Northwestern degrees through the University’s MMM program (formerly the master’s in manufacturing and management). While at Northwestern, she interned at General Electric in consumer marketing. In 2001 she returned to the car business as a marketing leader at Ford.
Ward joined Audi in 2007 as general manager for marketing and product launch, then in 2011 was named director of customer experience, a position that was new to the company. During her time in that role, Audi improved its customer experience performance to record highs, including an increase from 13th place in customer service rankings to maintaining a position among the top three luxury brands overall every year since 2014.
Ward is engaged to be married and will relocate from Washington, D.C., to the Chicago area in the fall with her fiancé and their Labrador retriever.