In late 2021, Smarty Pants was proud to announce the addition of award-winning researcher, Lisa Rist, to its growing team of experts. As an “Insights Innovator,” Lisa conceptualizes, executes and analyzes custom qualitative and quantitative research studies for Smarty Pants’ top retail, healthcare/pharma, grocery, and toy & game clients. She provides key insights and innovative solutions on a variety of industries, consumer segments and business challenges.

Winner of the National Research Corporation’s “Innovative Best Practice Award” in recognition of excellence in marketing strategy and research analytics, Lisa is also a Burke Institute-trained interviewer and moderator who works seamlessly across in-person and digital methods. Her deep experience includes focus groups, in-depth interviews, online bulletin boards, webcam interviews and ethnographies.

In her director-level position, Lisa serves as co-lead of one of Smarty Pants’ six business units. She helps to drive the success and growth of Smarty Pants and its clients, ensuring excellence in research execution and business impact. Additionally, she serves as both collaborator and mentor to team members – a role in which she thrives.

Most recently, Lisa was a research director at The Link Group, a full-service research consultancy with offices in Atlanta, GA, Durham, NC, and Sarasota, FL. Her role focused primarily on pharmaceutical research – from assessing creative concepts and messaging to dimensionalizing disease states and patient experiences. Rounding out her client experience, Lisa also conducted research in the retail, grocery and technology sectors.

Prior to The Link Group, Lisa spent nearly 20 years at Duke University Health System, where she provided data analytics to inform the strategic planning process and served as both the internal marketing research consultant and client research partner. Her key contributions included developing a “data crosswalk” to track the migration of clinical services from inpatient to outpatient settings and bringing forth the voices of patients and clinicians to inform the design of the new Duke Cancer Institute facility.

Lisa began her career as a health policy analyst at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI). In addition to leading literature reviews and fielding 1:1 interviews, she conducted comprehensive evaluations of federal health programs.

Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke University. She also served as president of the Duke Women’s Tennis Club and treasurer of the Duke Sports Club. Lisa went on to earn a master’s in health planning and administration from the University of Cincinnati.

Though she spent her childhood in Pittsburgh, PA, Lisa now resides with her husband in Durham, NC. She has two grown sons who live in California.

Fun Facts

  • Is half Portuguese
  • Grew up in a faculty apartment in a boys’ dorm (where her father was a teacher) – an experience she likens to growing up with 25teenage brothers  
  • Played tennis since she was 8 years old and was a three-sport captain (field hockey, basketball and softball) in high school
  • Loves traveling to places that highlight unique landscapes and cultures: the Galapagos Islands, Iceland, Corsica and the Azores
  • Loves singing with Pop Up Chorus and reading Shakespeare with her friends
  • Helped spread the word about Habitat for Humanity as it launched, giving countless presentations and spending a year living and working on an apple farm on a Native American reservation in Yakima Valley (Washington)