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Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumni Award: DENISE CONROY


The oldest of four children, Denise Conroy jokes that her family didn’t have much, but they always had cable television. For her, television was an escape, a window to the world — it gave her permission to dream big. She still recalls MTV’s debut in 1981, and was a witness to an era in entertainment that moved her, having no idea that she would one day be part of that world. 

The WVU class that was the turning point for Conroy’s future was empirical political analysis. A datahead with a love of uncovering what motivates people, she didn’t realize how that one course would launch her career. After earning a master’s degree in social and public policy, she parlayed her love of research into a marketing career.

In 2004, Conroy was named director of research for the Outdoor Channel. A West Virginia girl at heart, she was no stranger to the outdoor lifestyle. Within less than a year, she became the channel’s vice president of marketing. 

Conroy moved to HGTV and the DIY Network in 2011, as the senior vice president of marketing and creative. By that point, she was known as a data-driven marketer and pioneer of programmatic research. She created groundbreaking campaigns for shows such as Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and House Hunters that propelled HGTV from no. 17 to no. 9 for adults ages 25-54, lowering the median viewer age by three years. 

Ten years after her big break in the television industry, Conroy did the unthinkable: she quit her job at HGTV and the DIY Network to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a CEO. Against the admonitions of everyone she knew, she pursued her dream without a safety net. Later that year, she landed her first CEO role with Iconic Group, Inc., a $100 million digital solutions company that specializes in education, endurance sport and retail photography. Her team photographs seven million consumers annually at more than 3,000 life events, such as graduation ceremonies, endurance running races and experiential retail. 



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President and CEO, Iconic Group, Inc. | Political Science