Community//

Flynann Janisse of ‘Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation’: “Everyone should have an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams”

Create environments that allow for communications that build community and offer solutions to barriers that impede cultural and economic divides. Develop a team in service to others that have a strong foundation for promoting consistent commitments to community, housing for all and unwavering focus on quality engagement at every step of operations. As a part […]

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Create environments that allow for communications that build community and offer solutions to barriers that impede cultural and economic divides. Develop a team in service to others that have a strong foundation for promoting consistent commitments to community, housing for all and unwavering focus on quality engagement at every step of operations.


As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewingFlynann Janisse.

Flynann Janisse is the executive director of Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation (Rainbow), a non-profit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for residents of rental housing communities throughout the country. With award-winning services available throughout the United States, Rainbow seeks to create and preserve quality, affordable housing for families and individuals of diverse ethnic, social and economic backgrounds. Prior to joining Rainbow, Ms. Janisse served as Director of Property Management at Community Services of Arizona, a fully integrated management company specializing in the management of multifamily, service-enriched affordable housing. Ms. Janisse has experience in managing market rate (REIT), Section 42 Tax Credit, Project Section 8, and HUD and RD-financed housing communities.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?

I began my career in 1986 as a leasing agent. I was drawn to the industry since it offered a path to a sustainable career and opportunities for growth. I appreciated the learning opportunities our industry provides in accounting, business and financial management, marketing, sales, human resources, analytics, critical thinking, and so much more. I invested in a knowledge base that would propel me forward as an industry leader. Now thirty-five years later, I am grateful that I chose this vocation.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

There are so many stories; however, one of my fondest memories was when the multi-housing organization in my state asked me to lead a high school seniors program promoting career opportunities in apartment management. Here, I was able to share my personal story of entering the industry at age 17 and being promoted into a management position at 18.

Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

As I worked my way upwards through the many layers of operations and leadership, I realized that one day I will be leading the next generation of future leaders. My work was inspiring me to motivate others, as well as my seasoned colleagues to find new energy in the spirit of serving communities. Our industry serves others through the many seasons of their lives. While we are developing, preserving and managing housing opportunities, our residents are getting married, having and raising children, celebrating holidays and life’s milestones, deaths and illnesses, all while building careers and opportunities of their own. Our industry provides the backdrop within which these life experiences happen and are told. How can a person not consider wanting to be a part of that? Our business goes far beyond business operations and is about how to best serve those that need what we provide. I hope that every one of us in this field is mindful that our job is to invest in human capital using the provision of housing as the platform to transform individuals and families of all ages into having the best life experience possible.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

As a company, we are building on the vision of empowering and impacting all ages with web-based enriching services. For example, we are expanding our reach to seniors and youth through our LINK programming. LINK was designed to bridge the technology gap for all, including those with disabilities in order to bring education and community building to everyone. A program such as LINK will increase our ability to provide access to social and economic advancement opportunities to those we serve.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

At Rainbow, we are a community of thought leaders committed to bettering the industry while providing sustainable solutions to community development and the prevention of homelessness. Rainbow is innovative in its approach to connecting its residents with opportunities directly and through partnership collaborations. We understand the importance of being connected to local organizations that support our mission, thus allowing us to provide a well-rounded service platform to better serve and uplift those less fortunate.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful for those who serve our industry and are politically engaged to sustain affordable housing. All of my mentors and acquaintances have helped me become the industry leader that I am today. My wisdom came from those who challenged me. I am only as good as those who have surrounded me. I have been fortunate to have an extraordinary team and sphere of influence.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

It is hard for me to understand this statement because I see many women in executive positions who are recognized leaders in the industry. Perhaps that number will grow as women like myself continue achieving and sharing our knowledge and experience with other women. I believe that whether in real estate or elsewhere more women than ever have found and ascended to the highest ranks in their chosen professions.

What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

Everyone should have an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. Companies should create peer mentorship programs that grow talent and back diverse and minority groups. Businesses should also incorporate diverse hiring strategies for all.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Fortunately, nowadays many executives are faced with the same challenges. Both men and women in leadership positions have to stay organized while managing a team of employees and projects that foster sustainable operations. Regardless of gender, we all have to prepare for the future success of the business while maintaining current programs and strategic planning.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?

Our industry is multifaceted! While we are developing, preserving and managing housing, our residents are experiencing real life. It’s exciting to know that we are here to help provide them a solid foundation in order for them to pursue their dreams and aspirations. It’s exciting to see how the infrastructure we’ve put in place really works for the betterment of the community.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

The industry, low-income individuals and families would benefit from an expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and the Housing Trust Fund. Further, a 4 percent federal tax credit rate would help generate more equity across the country which utilizes private activity bond authority for the development and preservations of affordable housing.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

I would advise other leaders to mentor their teams on the core values needed to sustain housing for all and the need to develop and preserve service-enriched housing. To work toward a value-based system that allows for bricks and mortar to become a community, knowing the real work is done when we create value-based living environments that revitalize communities and create sustainable living. Leaders should champion to their teams that the work we do is necessary and powerful in preventing homelessness as well as creating safe, affordable housing that provides for the most vulnerable populations across the United States. The value in social and economic tenant-based services is imperative as there likely will always be a need for it. Most importantly, it is a need that will continue to grow in times of adversity and global crisis. In addition to providing sustainable housing, the continuance of having enrichment services available to tenants enriches their opportunities for self-sufficiency, career pathways, education and life skills.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

Create environments that allow for communications that build community and offer solutions to barriers that impede cultural and economic divides. Develop a team in service to others that have a strong foundation for promoting consistent commitments to community, housing for all and unwavering focus on quality engagement at every step of operations.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My hope is that I lead in a way that paves a path for others to follow and prosper.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation on social media using the links below. Our website is https://rainbowhousing.org/

Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!

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