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Women's History Month Profile: Lincoln Property Co's Elaine Clancy

Washington DC
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Lincoln Property Co SVP Elaine Clancy hasn’t climbed to executive roles in this industry by getting comfortable at a stable company or with a conventional career path.

Maybe it was her upbringing as an Air Force brat—attending 13 different schools between kindergarten and high school—that instilled a craving for variety and multi-faceted challenges. Whatever the reason, Elaine continues to find success with her versatility, pursuing a number of different career paths and interests on her way to the top.

“That’s the nice thing about the industry,” Elaine says. “You can be local, you can be national, or you can be international. There are a lot of different aspects, and what I liked most of it is that you can be involved in the industry in a lot of different roles, which is what I’ve done.”

And, with that robust résumé, which includes investment banking companies and a federal agency, Elaine says real estate could be any finance pro’s dream.

“I’ve always liked the finance side of the business, but leasing is also interesting,” she says. “There’s always a transaction and I like each of those transactions. Something is always different for the execution of every project.”

Elaine has been at Lincoln for four years now, working with both private sector and federal clients, and it is her varied experience that landed her there in the first place. For example, she came to Lincoln directly from the General Services Administration, where she ran the leasing division in the DC region.

That sought-after federal experience here in DC makes Elaine somewhat of a real estate unicorn. After all, working with the government is a completely different animal than with private sector clients.

“In this region, I focus on representing landlords,” she says. “Because GSA has such a large presence in this market, firms need that expertise in-house for the government side of the business. In my role now, I’m working with both private sector and government tenants.”

It was actually her role with a GSA project that Elaine considers one of her greatest contributions to DC real estate: the renovations to Washington DC’s Old Post Office Pavilion. As the head of the selection committee for the process in 2010, Elaine said she still today gets a kick out of seeing the historical landmark’s progress toward becoming Trump International Hotel (opening this fall). 

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She has spent her entire working life in DC. Her first job after earning a finance degree at James Madison University was at Deloitte in its tax practice. Despite the name-brand firm, Elaine said she “just wasn’t an accountant.”

So, she moved to DC’s branch of JLL as a real estate analyst for the opportunity to pursue finance in a continually booming industry that piqued her interest—and ultimately became her passion.

With a propensity to “keep moving” onward and upward, Elaine earned her accelerated MBA in finance and organizational behavior from Northwestern University in just one year. She was determined to learn everything she could to leap up the rungs of the corporate real estate ladder.

With her MBA and a full spectrum of roles on her résumé from estate investment banking to managing in-house portfolios, Elaine is proof that to make your mark in commercial real estate, you don’t have to be an architect or a designer. Buildings, after all, aren’t just built for pretty skylines.

“Everything in commercial real estate is ultimately related to finance and operations,” she says.

Ironically, for a woman who has spent much of her life planning both the strategic steps of her career and of the real estate projects she manages, her immediate goal is really quite simple.

“Right now, my biggest goal is making sure that I can continue to do the job and succeed in what I’m doing today,” Elaine says.