2022 Top 20 Impact Makers Honorees
2022 Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker Award
Saturday, February 5, 2022
The St. Regis Houston
For as long as she can remember, Elsie Eckert’s philanthropic mantra has been, “It is a great honor to support and give back to my community.”
A magna cum laude graduate of Kent State University, Elsie moved to Houston 35 years ago. Recognizing the city’s boundless opportunities, she embraced her entrepreneurial spirit and, in 1985, founded Elsie Smith & Associates Inc., a graphic design and branding firm. A selection of accounts the firm has worked with includes Texas Children’s Cancer Center, Hope and Healing Center & Institute, Houston Symphony, and Charming Charlie. Elsie holds professional memberships with American Advertising Federation Houston, World Affairs Council Cabinet, and Legacy Referral Executive Group.
Twenty-five years ago, Elsie became a founding member of BRASS (Baylor Research Advocates for Student Scientists). This unique nonprofit, the only charitable organization in the United States that supports biomedical research, helps student scientists through scholarships and research funding as they work toward their PhDs from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. She served as president from 2003 to 2005, for a second term from 2016 to 2018, and for a third term from 2018 to 2021. As well, Elsie sits on the BRASS scholar selection committee and has been the scholar’s liaison for over eight years.
Elsie has co-chaired the Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Celebration of Champions Runway for A Cure annual luncheon since its inception and has been a “Santa’s elf” at the annual Texas Children’s Cancer Center Faust/Mach Holiday Toy Party since 2013. In 2014, she was selected by the City of Houston to be a director/board member of the BARC Foundation, for which she served as invitation chair for its 2015 inaugural gala and chair for the BARC on Broadway gala in 2016. In 2019, she served as the invitation chair for all the organization’s fundraising events.
Elsie has served on the Alley Theatre advisory board and has been a Center Stage donor since 1999. She is also an active member and volunteer for the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation Ladies for Literacy Guild and a long-time member of The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, Houston Ballet Guild, University of St. Thomas Performing and Fine Arts Society, and The Partnership for Baylor College of Medicine (The Partnership).
As a member of the Houston Symphony League, she cochaired its annual President’s Luncheon in 2016. In 2017, she served as the special advisor/branding chair for The Partnership’s Café Society Soiree Gala. In 2018, she helped create colorful wall art for elementary school classrooms destroyed by hurricane Harvey, and served on the LOL luncheon committee. In recognition of her service to so many, Elsie was named a 2020 Woman of Distinction by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
Elsie and her husband, Les, enjoy traveling together, adding to their art collection, and opening the home they share with their Welsh Terrier, Stella, to entertain friends and host a variety of charitable events. Challenging herself daily to be the best she can in both her business and personal life, Elsie relishes the rewards of giving back and being a part of the generous and dynamic philanthropic community in Houston. She acknowledges none of it would be possible without the loving support of her wonderful husband and her cherished philanthropic partners.
It is for all the reasons mentioned above, and many more, that Elsie Eckert has been named a Top 20 Inspiring Woman Impact Maker for 2022.