ASU Lodestar Center



“Do it without reservation”: An interview with Executive Leadership Certificate alumna Flynann Janisse of the Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation

January 24, 2024 - A veteran of the nonprofit sector, Executive Director Flynann Janisse has been with the Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation for more than 15 years, supporting low-income affordable housing in more than 20 U.S. states.

As a nonprofit professional, Janisse says she wears “a multitude of hats,” taking part in accounting, mentoring, administrative work and other facets of the organization. To further elevate her leadership skills, stay current with best practices, and make new connections among fellow leaders, Janisse took part in the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Certificate, a learning and networking opportunity from the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation’s Nonprofit Management Institute.

Janisse met with ASU Lodestar Center Storyteller Lillian Finley to discuss her experience with the program, its benefits, and how participating has helped her learn the truth in the tagline, “You can be a lifelong learner.” The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Have you always envisioned yourself doing nonprofit work or was it a new development? 

Janisse: No, I think early on… I very gratefully landed in the industry of apartment leasing. … Then I came to a community where there was a deeper need, where there was a tenant population who needed more from me as a manager to help them thrive and remove themselves from a space of being evicted and suffer the consequences of job loss. I realized in that moment that I was compelled to do something different.

Q: Why did you choose to pursue the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Certificate? 

Janisse: As I'm looking at kind of a 10-year plan [for Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation], there's a core group of individuals [on my team] that I wanted to see grow their knowledge of the industry and leadership, and in that, I wanted to walk that path beside them and support them through the process so that they could garner the experience of the people in the group, but also have me be there to support.

Q: What expectations did you have going into the program? Did these change at all as you experienced it? 

Janisse: They didn't change. I believed that I would likely be in a group with peers, and I find that I am in a group of peers that hold the same positions and responsibilities but may not have the tenure of experience … I am excited with every class because I've found myself in a space of being able to communicate from experiences in history and really see a percentage of the group rally around that and maybe take something from me, where I thought I was going to be taking something from the group. I think I'm contributing more than I expected, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to see that happen within a young group of leaders.

Q: What would you say were the main benefits that you saw after the Certificate?

Janisse: I would say the main benefits were for me to take that back to the team and say, “You can be a lifelong learner.” … It's a catchy phrase, but there's reality to it — you can continue to be a lifelong learner. So, even when I'm looking at an exit plan, and they're coming into the breadth of their career, they could see an example of someone who says there's still opportunity to learn and learn from those that are coming into the field.

Q: What would you say to anybody who’s considering taking part in the Executive Leadership Certificate right now?

Janisse: Absolutely do it without reservation. I believe that regardless of what you may think you would garner from it, you will capture something from it that may be unexpected and be incredibly beneficial to you.

Story by Lillian Finley, ASU Lodestar Center

Image:  Flynann Janisse, Executive Leadership Certificate alumna