Meet LeAnn Ostheimer, the 2023 Woman Leader of the Year - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Meet LeAnn Ostheimer, the 2023 Woman Leader of the Year

Photo: NALP/Philippe Nobile Photography

LeAnn Ostheimer, COO of Lifescape Colorado, based in Denver, Colorado, has built an exemplary career in the landscape industry and is known for her professionalism, confidence and talent in landscape design.

Ostheimer was named the Woman Leader of the Year for 2023 during ELEVATE in Dallas, Texas.

“It’s definitely unexpected,” Ostheimer says. “I come to work and I do what I do every day because it’s what’s right. It’s what’s right for me. It’s what’s right for the team. It’s right for our clients, my family. I’m not coming to win awards or to be noticed. That’s not my goal.”

Career Path

Growing up on a crop and dairy farm in northern Colorado, Ostheimer knew that after working a few desk jobs she needed to be outside. She stumbled upon the landscape design contracting program at Colorado State and has loved the industry ever since.

She had worked for several other landscape firms before Michael Hupf, owner of Lifescape Colorado, reached out to her and offered her a job with the company.

“I was not looking and I declined actually several times,” Ostheimer says. “His persistence, he didn’t take no for an answer, and I actually use that story now when we’re hiring people or even with clients. Don’t take no as an answer. That’s an opportunity of how to get to yes.”

She started as a senior designer, designing and selling to Lifescape’s high-touch clientele. Then, she took on the role of director of sales and marketing. Later, she became the executive vice president for design-build. Ostheimer was promoted to COO in February of 2023.

“My job is to pull out the expertise in everyone and hone and tweak the processes to make everyone be their most successful and have our properties look their best,” she says.

Her career path has been fueled by her determination to exceed goals and grow in every role.

“I’ve always been a competitive person, a driven person, which has always served me well,” Ostheimer says. “I just had to be focused and hungry.”

When Ostheimer joined Lifescape, the business was at $3 million in annual revenue and now the company has exceeded $31 million with 21% year-over-year growth. In her 17 years with the company, she has helped grow the team from 25 employees to over 200. She says they had to build a team that could work hard and play hard together and they had to reinvent themselves in their market.

“We were not known as easy to do business with 17 years ago,” Ostheimer says. “We had to change our systems and processes. We focused on hiring great people. Great design and construction really is where we started.”

Ostheimer is also known for striking a good work-life balance between her job and raising her family, but she says the mantra ‘you can have it all, but you can’t have it all at one time’ is true.

“It’s work-life harmony; it’s not balanced because if you expect a 50/50 balance, it’s not going to happen,” she says.

She says when she had her kids, she backed off on her personal goals so she could be there for her children. Once they were a little older and in school, she was ready to push the gas at Lifescape and asked what she could do next.

“I try to be very efficient with my time, very efficient with my meetings,” she says. “I’m at work to work and have some laughs and have fun doing it but not to sit around and chitchat because I want to get home to my family. I want to be at all their ballgames and I am at most of them. So I have to be at max efficiency at all aspects of my life.”

Giving Back to the Industry

Ostheimer has served on the Association of Landscape Contractors Colorado ProGreen Expo board since 2019, the ALCC’s Women in the Green Committee since 2022 and the ALCC board of directors since 2023.

She has also served as a judge in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition’s exterior design competition for five years. Ostheimer aided Colorado State with their first green industry field day event for high school students this year. She educated students on how to properly plant containers.

“Early in my career, I didn’t make time to do things beyond my day job, but then I flipped the switch and I started taking the time to do the extra things and the service work or sit on committees or boards,” Ostheimer says. “Now I can see the impact we do have in our communities and on our profession. I hope that I’m helping pave the way for more women to pursue their careers.”

She spearheaded the first ALCC Women in Green ‘We’re Sprouting’ networking event, where over 75 female team members from different companies gathered.

“It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come and I glad that I get to be a little teeny, tiny piece of that,” Ostheimer says. “I hope I can continue to bring professionalism and competence to women.”

Ostheimer says throughout her career she has had some people doubt her abilities as a woman, but she just learns from those rejections and moves on. She has been directly involved in adding more women to key roles at all levels of Lifescape.

She encourages other women in the industry who want to advance in their careers to be their own voice and advocate for themselves because no one else is going to do it for them.

“Do the job first, male or female,” Ostheimer says. “You have to do the job first, prove yourself and then ask for what you want. Nobody’s going to give it to you. Hopefully, a few nice surprises will pop up in your life where someone will give you something, but you can’t expect that. You can’t wait. You have to ask. You have to be prepared and have done the work, though, when it’s time to go to the table and ask.”

This article was published in the November/December issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.