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Ashlee Clarke

Ashlee is a powerhouse female entrepreneur. She has cultivated an array of skillsets and has those learnings at each step of her twenty-year career – from journalist to start up businesswoman, to keynote speaker, to advertising maven and Tony award winning Broadway producer.

A fast-paced New Yorker with Southern Roots from Georgia, Ashlee is not a typical Madison Avenue executive who sees life through the dual lenses of the two coasts. LA and NY are just the endpoints for her, because she knows the majority of consumers live right in the middle. She has built her career in New York City with a healthy dose of heart, passion, and guts as an untraditional advertising leader, while maintaining both her country roots and southern drawl.

Ashlee founded NitroC, an independent, integrated advertising & media agency, five years ago. Ashlee leads Nitro with a “Client First Culture” and is most passionate about emotionally connected advertising and innovation that drives growth for their clients’ business. She still maintains her down home roots and it shows in the agency’s unique work such as her creative partnership with fellow Georgian, Luke Bryan.

Ashlee is the new wave of advertising leadership; she is an outsider with the fresh perspective of developing great work without the confines of agency orthodoxy. That outside approach allows her to ask, “why not?” when told something has never been done that way before and Ashlee has the tenacity, business experience and most of all guts to make sure she is the first to break new ground where others feared to go. The drive to succeed and the necessary extra work to be taken seriously in the old boys’ club is not lost on her, which is why Ashlee is as hands on during a commercial production as she is understanding the best ROI for Clients advertising investments.

Ashlee attended Georgia State University’s journalism &  Mass Communication school where she acquired mass media skills as well as on camera training. She worked as a television anchor and personality on networks such as The Style Network, E! CNN’s “Headline News,” Headline News After Dark, NBC’s morning show” Atlanta & Company”, just to name a few!

Always one to speak up, and speak out, Ashlee spoke live on CNN for Eve Enslers “One Billion Rising” along side fellow key note speaker, Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter- Dr. Bernice King. Using her voice for women is a primary focus for Ashlee as she stood before Congress alongside “The Safe House” Women’s Resource Center on Women’s Domestic Violence Day and compelled the legislature to implement laws that protect women. In addition, Ashlee was the Keynote Speaker for “Own The Mic” Girls Govern Townhall in Washington, DC Women’s Empowerment take over at George Washington University for Girls Inc. Ashlee was also a featured panelist at Politicon with other influential women (Barbara Boxer, Wendy Davis, SE Cupp, & Robin Thede) that are on a mission to shatter the glass ceiling! Ashlee led the women’s menstruation movement that paved the way for millions of women to have a voice! She created the first “tax free tampon” which revolutionized the most taboo topic.

Ashlee co-produced the movie adaptation of Tootsie, into the critically acclaimed Broadway musical-comedy. The production debuted on Broadway in April 2019, that Grossed $39mm and earned 11 Tony Award nominations and Tony wins for Best Leading Actor in a Musical and Best Book of a Musical. Tootsie has also garnered numerous awards from the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Critics’ Circle, and Drama Desk Awards as well as rave reviews. In 2022

She also co-produced the Broadway hit, American Buffalo starring Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell, receiving 4 Tony Nominations.

From the landscape of Georgia to the big city and bright lights of New York City, Ashlee has, and will continue to forge a path for female students, businesswomen and entrepreneurs.



with Ashlee Clarke
What first attracted you to Empower?
Empower has been on my radar for years. I’ve seen the business transform from being this local juggernaut to becoming a national phenomenon – winning Agency of the Year titles from MediaPost, Campaign US, and Ad Age. I’ve always respected Mary Beth Price’s founding story of Empower and appreciate its strong female presence throughout the years. Nearly 70% of staff is female. I saw the opportunity to build on the legacy of female empowerment and marry Empower’s media expertise with my vision for creating meaningful cultural-consumer connections.
How does leading America’s Largest Woman-Owned Media Agency align with your personal/professional goals?
I am a champion for female empowerment, and I take this role of leading America’s largest female-owned media agency very seriously. I am in a unique position to influence how people appear in media and experience it. I’m behind the wheel of an $800 million dollar business. It’s a huge responsibility for this majority-led female team & I know we are going to make a real impact.
What do you see as your business strengths?
I am tenacious and not afraid to go about things a different way. It’s definitely how I’ve managed to infiltrate the advertising boys club industry. I am an entrepreneur at heart. From creating my own line of body scrub at an early age to producing Tony award-winning Broadway shows – I am a self-starter who loves to create and innovate. I’m always applying my Georgia roots to the ad industry which is a valuable strength our clients reap the benefits of. I don’t approach a client’s business through the lens of Madison Avenue, but rather through the eyes of the “heartlander” consumer - knowing and understanding what matters most to the folks that live in the middle; the heartbeat of our amazing country!
What DEI initiatives are on the horizon for you?
I am working closely with Empower’s VP, DEI, Connie Ross to ensure we are collaborating with clients on important DEI initiatives that will not only better their business but better the industry. Setting up processes that enable us to bring forward opportunities to reach multicultural audiences in a meaningful and authentic way guarantees success for our clients. Additionally, I will continue to bring to life our mantra #LiveEmpowered to encourage our people and clients to advocate for women, diversity and inclusion.