When you meet Leisa Weintraub, your first impression is a statuesque woman of impeccable taste and meticulous dress. But Weintraub’s model good looks are matched by her marketing prowess in the new home building industry, where she worked to elevate one of the the largest and most respected developers in America, Neal Communities, builders who have built some of the finest golf communities, from Lakewood Ranch to Naples.
Originally from Battle Creek, Michigan, Weintraub and her family moved to Venice in high school.
After graduation from Florida State University, Weintraub moved to Atlanta and landed her first job working as an executive recruiter for the aerospace industry. She landed a marketing position with a new company a few years later, and realized this was where she was meant to work. The ever-changing challenges of shifting trends and business strategies within the marketing industry and the creativity required to execute new ideas for consumers appealed to Weintraub.
In 1985, she returned to Sarasota and was hired as the marketing coordinator for Bay Venture, who was the developer of Palmer Ranch, one of the largest master planned communities in Sarasota.
“I was so excited to start dreaming of the possibility of big things to come. That first day on the job I was handed a stack of fliers and asked to circle something on the page for emphasis. Not very exciting, [however] it taught me that marketing is planning, hard work, and making sure you execute projects fully. You have to pay attention to every detail. And no, it’s not always glamorous!”
Weintraub’s timing was fortuitous. The PGA’s network of courses was blossoming, and the Tournament Players Club at Prestancia was chosen as the site of two popular senior tour events, playing host to the Chrysler Cup and American Express Invitational in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, she’s the Vice President Marketing/ Creative Director with Neal Communities in Lakewood Ranch, the award-winning, mid-custom home builder who is building new home communities across Southwest Florida. She has created, designed and managed the overall design theme for the private and locally-owned homebuilder, and managed the company’s global public relations and marketing initiatives. She credits her success in the corporate world with creativity, hard work, and the desire to understand what motivates people and their buying decisions.
“I think one of the most important things you can do is listen to others, then of course, trust your own knowledge and intuition. You just never know when something someone says will spark a great idea. I like to surround myself with smart people. Marketing is growing and shifting as technology changes so rapidly You need to find the right people to guide you along the way.
Weintraub’s creativity doesn’t just shine in her professional marketing achievements; it also extends to her sense of fashion. Weintraub has been designing and making her own dresses since high school, and says she finds sewing a form of therapy. Her first project? A velvet homecoming dress.
“My mother used to sew and I learned it from her. I love the tactile feel of fabric. It tells me what it wants to be.”
When I interviewed Weintraub after her photo shoot for GRAVITAS, she showed me a few of her beautiful creations made in conservative shades of blue and grey with fitted waists that could easily match any custom designs found in high-end department stores.
She says she also found the balance in her career and family with the support of her husband, Richard, who is co-partner in Yellow Strawberry Global Salons in Sarasota. Weintraub still laughs at how she met her future husband.
“I met my husband when he cut my hair. We didn’t start dating until ten years later, when I asked him to attend a black tie event, the Cartoon Classic, with me. When I asked him out, his response was, ‘what took you so long?’”
As a working mom of two, Weintraub says she was deliberate in creating time in her week to recharge and rejuvenate, despite the hectic pace and long hours of her job. It’s something she says is crucial to all working women today.
“I think it’s hard in the workforce to be able to juggle working hard and still attend to your children.”
“I think it’s hard in the workforce to be able to juggle working hard and still attend to your children. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. I can’t stress how important this is. Also, make time with your female friends. Their laughter is uplifting, their wisdom is priceless and will help sustain you in the hard times.”