John B. Reilly

Rachel Rhodes has helped develop more than 18,000 affordable housing units through her work at the National Equity Fund (NEF).

A regional vice president for the low-income housing tax credit syndicator, she has helped originate deals throughout the national firm’s 19-state Central region.

“I’m still learning something new on every deal,” she says. “Nothing is cookie-cutter. I want to be challenged. I want to solve a problem every day and think creatively every day.”

Rhodes didn’t set out to be in affordable housing, but she fell in love with the work once she found it.

Her introduction to the industry came when she joined the Illinois Housing Development Authority as a loan officer in 2000. Working at the agency for several years gave Rhodes an inside look at multiple programs. At the same time, she was earning her master’s degree in business at the University of Chicago.

Rhodes was soon hired by JPMorgan Chase to originate loans and oversee underwriting on its affordable housing deals. She joined NEF in 2007. She credits the firm with exposing her to a broad range of deals, markets, and developers. “The more different deals I see, the more I learn, and the more I can bring back to each of my customers,” she says.

Rhodes shares her industry experience with others and enjoys leading training sessions for consultants and developers nationwide.

“As an originator at NEF, Rachel’s thorough understanding of how deals work and her unparalleled responsiveness have set her apart from others in the business,” says Mike Jacobs, senior vice president and head of the originations team at NEF. “As the regional vice president for our Central region, she not only leads the pack on production, she has also fostered the growth of younger team members, taking them by the hand and teaching them the numbers as well as how to listen and work with a wide variety of partners.”

Rhodes, 37, and her husband, Edward, have three children, Jordan, Kendall, and Talia.