Liza Smitherman

President, Brewster Pumping, LLC
Chief People Officer, Jostin Construction

Current / Past Place of Employment: Cincinnati Public Schools

How many years have you been in the region? 35

Where are you originally from? Columbus, Ohio

Liza joined Jostin Construction in 1998, in partnership with her husband in their first generation, family-owned business. Liza played a key role in developing the driving purpose behind Jostin Construction – to create and provide a diversity of opportunities for all. Now celebrating almost 25 years in business, her role has expanded as the business has grown. She facilitates the development of growth strategies for Jostin and its subsidiary companies, and continues to drive the direction and planning for all aspects of human resources (employee relations, compensation, training and development, etc.) and workforce development.

As president of Brewster Pumping, Liza provides direction for establishing and implementing short and long-term goals for the business. She also works closely with the Brewster team to manage day-to-day activities.

Liza is very active in community organizations that share her passion for creating new opportunities for others. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Xavier University, and Represent Cincy, an advisory board tasked with diversifying the Over-the-Rhine business district through the attraction and retention of Black-owned business.

In 30 seconds or less, tell us who YOU are. This is not your professional bio, but rather, your response should reflect how you are uniquely you.
Woman of God, wife, mother, GiGi, mother-in-love, daughter, lover of a good book (especially suspense novels), and fitness enthusiast, which includes pace walking with my husband and walking partner and spinning with Ally Love on my Peloton. Cooking for my family of 4 generations is my true labor of love.

What is something that most people do not know about you?
Prior to my career in construction, I was a high school math teacher.

What are your personal core values?
To be authentic, compassionate, non-judgmental, honest, and respectful.
To find and maintain balance in my life, to challenge the status quo, and to be a learner. 
To have faith in something bigger than me, God.
To nurture friendships, have fun, and grow through every experience. 
To experience true contentment and peace. 
To be wise.

What is the primary motivation of your leadership?
To provide my teams with the tools and empowerment they need to be successful in their roles, to grow both personally and professionally, and to desire to “pay it forward” with their own teams.

What has been the cornerstone of your life journey that influenced your personal mission and purpose?
My belief and faith in God which was poured into me at a very young age by my parents.

Who has had an immense impact on you as a leader? How did this person (or people) impact your life?
My father – My family sat down for dinner Monday through Friday at 4pm because it was when my father came home from his first (and primary) job before, on certain days, leaving for a second job he had which supported our family. We sat around the kitchen table and listened to stories of his day as a manager on his job. I did not know then what I know now about the difference between leadership and management. I’m not sure he knew the difference between the two either. What I heard Monday – Friday though, was someone who cared about his people, set clear expectations for his people, knew how to motivate his people, and provided them with tools to be better and to excel. All done through the lens of care, kindness, and love.

What piece of advice have you received along the way in your career or life journey that has stuck with you?
Have "real talk," with both yourself and with others. And be kind to yourself and to others.

What one thing makes you most proud?
Watching the second generation of our family-owned business develop.

What’s one thing you do every day (or with consistency) to be a better person?

What are a few resources or behaviors you would recommend to someone looking to grow into a better leader?
Resources – A mentor, Cincinnati Chamber leadership programs, and executive coaching groups.
Behaviors – Being a good listener, learner, and executor. Being humble.

How do you define success?
Knowing what you want (set goals), utilizing the resources needed to accomplish your goals, and experiencing contentment once completed.

Why do you choose to make the Cincinnati region home?
Cincinnati is close to where most of my family/extended family reside. There are also opportunities to be supported and to support in a very direct way here.

What do you imagine for the future of the Cincinnati region?
Bigger and broader desire and actions that make for a more inclusive region.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
Being a black person, whether in a professional or non-professional role, means trusting God to show you how to stand up, speak out, take risks, be kind, be firm, be steadfast, and be open to change.

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