Few people understand the local, regional and state real estate regulatory environment like Clarissa Arellano.

As director of government affairs, media and public policy for the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, Arellano makes it her business to know about upcoming legislation that could affect the local housing market — and she’s built the necessary relationships to provide a voice to Realtors in El Paso and Teller counties at every level of government.

A 20-year resident of Colorado Springs, Arellano has worked in public policy for decades. She worked for former Congressman Joel Hefley in 1997 and has served both as an independent political consultant and a policy analyst with Denver’s Bighorn Center for Public Policy.

She’s been with the Realtor industry group for 13 years and says real estate provides a great opportunity for women to thrive.

“I’ve seen young women succeed — and be the most successful,” she said. “Real estate is known as a man’s world, but women do thrive here. Women who work in real estate are strong. They have a real fervor to succeed.”

[su_note note_color=”#7db9ff”]Personal Mantra: “Be true to yourself. Don’t let adversity define who you are.”[/su_note]

And with a Ph.D. in public policy, Arellano has also found success in a mainly male environment. At Bighorn, she wrote the policy implementation plan for the Colorado junk e-mail act and testified at various levels of state government about vote-by-mail’s impact on voter turnout.

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In the past, she’s participated in local issues — passing the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority tax, organizing the local Realtor community to take a stance on initiatives that affect the real estate industry.

She’s also served as adjunct faculty in the College of Professional Studies at Regis University’s Denver campus  and appeared on television as a public policy expert.

“It’s tremendously rewarding to be involved in creating public policy,” she said. “And I’m so fortunate to have the support of PPAR and its leadership. It’s been a very positive experience for me.”

And after 13 years, she still loves her job.

“Realtors are advocates for homeowners,” she said. “I’m so proud I can be part of that.

“A home purchase is the largest purchase people make in a lifetime. It’s my proudest accomplishment — a continuing accomplishment — to be part of helping people from the community. And to hear people comment about how great their experience with their Realtor was, I’m so pleased to be a part of that.”

Over the years, she’s created her own leadership style: one of collaboration.

“Colorado Springs is a community of collaborators,” she said. “That’s one thing I really like: I like to collaborate and build partnerships. And if people say Colorado Springs isn’t collaborative, that there isn’t room for partnerships — they aren’t looking in the right places.”

Her boss at PPAR, CEO Terry Storm, says no one builds partnerships quite like Arellano.

“I’d say she has as good a relationship with state legislature, elected officials as anyone,” she said. “She has as good a relationship with UCCS, with our base membership of Realtors, with county commissioners and city council as anyone I know. She has done an outstanding job at PPAR.”

And her contacts go far beyond El Paso and Teller counties, he said.

“She has relationships with people at the state legislature, throughout the state,” he said.

“This honor — Woman of Influence — is very well deserved. She’s spent a lot of time coming to the education level she has, and she’s made an outstanding impact on the Realtor community.”

— Amy Gillentine Sweet