It is with very heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Austin Williams’ vice president and managing director, Lisa Liebman.
Known for her passion for perfection, sharp strategic mind and even sharper wit, Lisa was a driving force behind the growth of our Agency… and a force to be reckoned with. She cut her teeth on Madison Avenue and rose to the ranks of senior leadership at a top global agency at a time when few women had the chops to do so.
Lisa broke down barriers, disrupted convention and mentored young talent. She loved what she did unabashedly and completely. But she loved giving to others even more. She changed the face of our Agency and our industry for the better. For these reasons (and oh so many more) we’re renaming our Austin Williams scholarship for high school students of color seeking marketing degrees, The Lisa Liebman Memorial Scholarship Program. We can feel her smiling from here.
Read the letter our president, Eva LaMere, wrote to her friend and colleague.
It’s just not the same. I hate the darkness that greets me from your office each morning. There was always so much light, so much energy and vitality coming out of that office. Smart thinking. Solid ideas. Strong opinions. Heated debates. Fiery passion. Did I mention strong opinions? And underneath that feisty exterior, a heart of gold.
Even though it’s been a while since you’ve physically been in the office, your presence is still very much felt. Maybe it’s the constant Zooms you set up and the barrage of frequent emails and texts, but these last few weeks I still feel you as an integral part of our Agency. That’s the impact you wield.
Despite your fierce and fearless battle with cancer, despite all the intense treatments, multiple scans, setbacks, complications and disappointments, you continue to be a force, making a difference at our Agency. A force from the beginning that grew and grew beyond my wildest dreams when we first met nearly 10 years ago (and you promised that you would even run out and buy me pantyhose if I asked 😀).
You were a strategic hire. We weren’t looking for a managing director. And we weren’t quite sure what to do with you. But we knew we needed this smart, vivacious, big thinker, especially after that thank-you letter you wrote after your interview. Hands down the best thank-you note EVER.
Your impact on our Agency is indelible. You brought such smart, strategic thinking and tools. Where do I begin to acknowledge all your contributions that have helped shape us to be the agency we are today?
You made us better at rebrandings when you introduced the strategic framework and competitive ladder to help disrupt conventions; you guided us in using in-depth research to inform positionings and creative strategies leading to award-winning work; you proclaimed yourself a digital idiot and yet are churning out the most impressive new business PowerPoint proposals our agency has ever delivered. You wear multiple hats as our managing director: handling recruitment, employee onboarding, research, new business, RFP submission and rebranding, and you’re mine and Rick’s trusted confidante. Our “go to” when we’re not sure who to “go to.”
In your hire, I gained so much more than a respected colleague; I gained a true friend. Just one month apart in age, we realized early on how much we had in common, and our bond strengthened over the years as we successfully blended our personal and professional lives. Okay, maybe once or twice a line was crossed, but I’m pretty sure the wine was to blame 😬.
So, thank you for your leadership, your mentorship and friendship, your solid advice, your passion for our Agency, your big heart, your thoughtful (and always well-curated) gifts. Thank you for answering an ad 10 years ago, willing to do whatever we threw at you, and ultimately becoming our true North.
Your devoted fan and friend,