Lucy Owen, the client services director at WWAV Rapp Collins, is to replace her.
Ward has resigned from the role for personal reasons; she is relocating to France and starting a family.
Owen's appointment is the first time a direct marketing specialist has been selected to head Nabs, which provides personal, practical and financial support for people in the industry.
She will oversee the charity's 16 London staff, and continue Ward's work in building the profile of Nabs outside London.
Nabs currently has a representative in Scotland, and Ward's predecessor and former chief executive, Kate Harris, heads the organisation's regional division, based in Manchester.
Another priority for Owen will be to raise the charity's profile among people working in the direct marketing sector. During her time at WWAV, Owen headed the NSPCC, The Blue Cross, Cancer Research UK and Air France accounts.
She said: "All sectors from advertising to direct marketing are facing similar challenges, which produce casualties and survivors alike, and Nabs provides daily and practical support for both."
Owen said that Nabs would be "getting under the skin" of issues such as the current TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking Protection of Employment) dispute engulfing Euro RSCG and McCann Erickson, and its implications for employment in the industry.
Grant Duncan, the Nabs chairman, said: "We're obviously sad that we've lost Victoria as her first year here is beginning to bear fruit. But she leaves Nabs in great shape - Lucy's own skills will build on that momentum."