After more than 35 years in the public finance industry, the last 15 at Fitch Ratings, Ann Flynn has retired.
Flynn’s seat on the Northeast Women in Public Finance board is now held by Arlene Bohner, Fitch’s head of U.S. public finance, whom Flynn hired.
Bohner said she hopes to carry on Flynn’s commitment to the organization’s programming, mentorship program and networking opportunities.
Flynn became involved with NEWPF while she was the director of public finance for New Jersey. She and a group of women in the New Jersey public finance industry created an informal networking group, and eventually NEWPF and the New Jersey group began to collaborate.
Flynn became more active with the board after returning to New York to work for RBC Capital Markets, and formally joined around 2005.
“I thought it was a wonderful organization,” Flynn said. “It not only provided networking but it also gave us the opportunity to mentor some of the younger people who were coming into the business. Public finance is a tough sector. It’s highly competitive. It’s very subject to market conditions.”
While Flynn served on the board, NEWPF not only helped educate new members of the public finance industry, but also sought to introduce college students to public finance as a career path.
Flynn was a “force of nature” on the board, according to NEWPF co-president Alice Cheng. As co-chair of the programming committee, she organized seminars on different public infrastructure projects, panels on what New York City will look like in the next decade, and climate resiliency programs for Earth Day. Flynn often handled the logistics of NEWPF’s annual volunteer campaigns.
Flynn was also a “cheerleader” for the NEWPF at Fitch, Bohner said, encouraging new hires to join the organization.
One of NEWPF’s biggest hurdles came in recent years, with the coronavirus pandemic, Flynn said. The board found ways to continue programming and keep members connected virtually, holding speaking panels and developmental trainings on Zoom.
Bohner saw firsthand the benefit of NEWPF’s COVID programming.
“Northeast Women in Public Finance was really proactive in trying to find innovative ways to make sure that people were still connected and still able to focus on their careers as the Earth was shifting beneath our feet,” Bohner said.
Bohner is joining the board after years of working for NEWPF’s mentorship program, which currently has 25 mentees — its largest class ever. She hopes to work more on the mentorship program as a board member.
“It’s so satisfying for me because I know that I’ve benefited from the women who came before me and the mentors that I had,” Bohner said. “Including Ann Flynn. I consider her to be one of my mentors.”
Flynn said she’s enjoyed seeing Bohner rise to head of U.S. public finance at Fitch and a board seat at NEWPF.
“I am so happy for her,” Flynn said, “but I’m also very proud of her, because she has worked so hard.”
“There are many women leaders in the industry, and it can be very easy to take for granted that that’s just the way it is in public finance,” Bohner said. “But I’ve been around the block a few times. And I can tell you, the reason why there are so many women leaders and role models in public finance is because of the way that women in this industry support each other.”