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Omaha Magazine

Ervin & Smith President Leanne Prewitt

Feb 01, 2022 11:57AM ● By Tamsen Butler
Leanne Prewitt in light filled office

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Leanne Prewitt was born in Omaha, and graduated from Mercy High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; but her journey to taking on the role as president of the local marketing and design firm Ervin & Smith took some detours through other cities.

Prewitt spent time in New York as a copywriter after graduating with a degree in journalism. She and her husband then decided to take a sabbatical for around five months to visit Sicily, Ireland, Tokyo and Paris, among other places. Her whirlwind tour of the globe with her husband couldn’t dissuade her from returning to the town in which she was born and raised.

“We were always likely to come back to Omaha,” Prewitt admitted. “We were open to the possibility. It’s generally a nice place to live.”

Prewitt was seven weeks into maternity leave with her first baby when she received the offer to take on the role of president at Ervin & Smith on Aug. 23, 2021. Her career with the company started around seven years prior when she joined the team as a creative director. 

Doug Smith, the founder of Ervin & Smith, was originally a writer, so Prewitt said her start as a copywriter in New York after graduating college “feels like a full-circle moment” now that she’s taken on the role of president.

“Becoming president wasn’t necessarily a goal on my radar,” Prewitt said. “I was more looking to grow into more influence and impact at work.”

That is exactly what she did. Prewitt has made an impact at Ervin & Smith and as an avid volunteer. She serves on the board of Mercy High School and co-founded the political action committee Women Who Run Nebraska. 

Though she didn’t necessarily set out to climb the ladder at Ervin & Smith the way she did, Prewitt admitted that working in an encouraging environment allowed her to thrive. The company operates under four core values: candor, happiness, innovation, and accountability. “The four core values attract growth-minded folks,” explained Prewitt. “I’ve grown so much in the years I’ve been there.”

“Ervin & Smith has such a passion for leadership and development,” said Prewitt, further explaining that the culture of the company attracts people who are passionate about volunteerism and serving on boards. “We create things that matter, and we never settle.”

Her fellow executives look up to her and admire her drive and work ethic. Ashley Bails, chief marketing officer at Ervin & Smith, said, “I’ve always admired Leanne’s leadership and people-first approach to everything she does. She understands that when people have the support and resources they need to grow as individuals, they can achieve both personal and professional success. At the end of the day, that is how we will continue to serve our clients and stay ahead in the fast-changing marketing world we work in.”

Her career trajectory is inspirational to other women who hope to climb the corporate ladder and smash the glass ceiling. Prewitt’s advice for these women—or to anyone else looking to ascend in the ranks of their career—is to “surround yourself with people whose work you admire.” She added that it is easier to thrive in a work environment that’s filled with joy and fun. “Otherwise,” she says, “it’s awful.”

“Find the people and places that truly support you as a person. Find men and women who will advocate for you and support you.”

Prewitt made it her personal mission to support women and girls. She has been a board member at Mercy High for around five years and was involved in leading the re-brand of the school. She’s passionate about Mercy High not only as an alumnus, but also because “the school was formed by women, run by women, and it’s for women,” she said. 

Women Who Run Nebraska is Prewitt’s other passion. It started initially with letter writing, then hosting forums, attending political rallies and becoming more involved in community groups, but then eventually evolved into a state PAC with a focus on supporting progressive women candidates. 

Prewitt’s co-founder, Denise Blaya Powell, said, “Leanne is the creative force behind the Women Who Run Nebraska brand and all of the fun merchandise we’ve produced. That work has helped our organization raise thousands of dollars to support women across the state. Her energy, passion and love for the work were such critical components to getting our organization off the ground and building the momentum that sustains us today. I’m so grateful to know her and get to work with her in this shared cause.”

Prewitt’s contributions to Ervin & Smith, along with her contributions to the political and educational landscape of Omaha, demonstrate a woman who is indeed of influence and impact. 

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This article originally appeared in the February/March 2022  issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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