WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Lauren Ward faces challenges head on, and that includes keeping tourism afloat during a global pandemic.

“We are working on recovery planning for Williamson County tourism,” Ward said. “Just kind of getting us through the tough time with tourism right now, from a financial standpoint and strategic planning standpoint.”

Ward is the interim president and CEO of Visit Franklin, the destination marketing organization for Williamson County. After a decade with a public relations firm in Nashville, Ward switched gears to tourism about three years ago.

“It’s a very fun industry to be in,” Ward said. “It’s marketing and promoting restaurants and distilleries and shopping. It brings support to small businesses, too, so I have a great passion for that. It really combines something I love to do with something that I feel good about doing.”

While its quite impressive to have interim CEO in her title, Ward’s favorite titles are wife and mom, to her two boys ages 6 and 3.

“Since I had my older son six years ago, (I thought) ‘how do I make this work where I feel fulfilled in my career but more importantly, where I feel fulfilled at home?'”

Ward said mothers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a better work/life balance.

“The face of the workplace is changing, and I think women just need to speak up and say what they need,” Ward said. “A lot of times the workplace will meet them where they are, they just need to ask.”
In addition to her family, Ward lives her life by two guiding forces: faith and philanthropy.

“It’s so rewarding to have something you can ground yourself in a deeper meaning and a deeper purpose for your life,” Ward said.

Ward has done volunteer work with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters and One Generation Away, which provides healthy food to families in need Middle Tennessee. She said she wants to teach her sons to think outside themselves.

“Life is so much not about you, and I want them to understand the best thing you can do in life is what you can do for other people,” Ward said.

Ward said she owes much of her professional and personal growth to other strong women in the workplace.

“(They) encouraged me and advocated for me and supported me,” Ward said. “In the time I doubted myself, or I thought I can’t do that part of the job, they stood up behind me and said, ‘yes, you can!’ and pushed me into it.”

No doubt many women would say Ward has done the same for them, and that’s what makes her a remarkable woman.