Grown folks biz: Meet power couple realtors Joanne English Rollieson and Ron Rollieson

They are an enterprising team who complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

When you think of power couples, who pops into your head–Michelle and Barack, Will and Jada, Beyonce and Jay-Z? These couples are captivating, confident, real movers and shakers. Another married power couple to add to the list are realtors to the stars, Joanne English Rollieson and Ron Rollieson. They are an enterprising team who complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Together, the networking gurus hold court with a sphere of influence that reaches across all industries.

Joanne is President and CEO of English Realty Associates. Ron is Executive Director of Sales, Marketing, and Training for the firm. The corporate headquarters is based in Englewood, New Jersey in a commercial property they own. Together they are unstoppable real estate brokers. They’ve sold homes to such stellars as Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Rev. Al Sharpton, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Faith Evans, and Angie Stone just to name a few. Many celebrities find themselves moving to the northern New Jersey suburbs where the Rollieson’s can work their magic, not only for the selection of impressive and luxurious homes but for the close proximity to New York City.

The Rollieson’s home

Joanne, 57, a realtor for 35 years, inherited the company, founded by her late father Whittie English 65-years-ago. Both she and Ron, 64, are dedicated to continuing the legacy of English, who helped African-American families in their quest to be homeowners during an era when they would not be serviced by mainstream realtors. The homes that are sold by the firm run-the-gamut from modest, to multi-million dollar properties.

When they married 28-years-ago, her son Marco was six and his son Jason was seven. The boys were raised together. Now, the husband and wife team have been blessed with four grandkids. Joanne’s son Marco is carrying on the English dynasty working in the organization as Vice President.

Keeping the faith and maintaining a positive outlook on life is what drives Joanne forward after having struggled with two bouts of cancer at ages 21 and 45. As a result of her health battles, the philanthropist founded Spring Bling, Think Pink, an annual benefit to raise monies for breast cancer research. She has been doing the fundraiser annually for the past 12 years, eight were held at their sprawling New Jersey home and the last four in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This year’s weekend retreat is being held May 18-20. It’s a weekend of meet and greets with tennis, pool activities, a beach party seafood luau, evening yacht gala and inspirational Sunday breakfast at its closing. (For further information, visit or call 201-270-8965.)

The dynamic marital pair who are always striving for greatness not only for themselves but for others, indeed make this world a better place. Tap into the chat they recently had with 50BOLD.

50BOLD: As partners in love and business, how do you manage to balance both?

The Rollieson’s living room

Joanne: It is actually a pleasure to be able to work because I have my health and my strength. We both squeeze time in for fun because our workday is so flexible. We’re able to play tennis for lunch, and then come back to work because we make our own schedule. That’s the nice thing about real estate is that you make your own schedule. You can balance it very easily.

Ron: I do take time out. I feel it is important to shut it down sometimes so that I can come back stronger. I don’t like the constant grind, grind, grind and thinking I have to do real estate 24-hours a day. The fact that there’s a team effort, someone you can bounce things off of is very essential. A lot of the things we do, pleasure-wise has stemmed from the relationships we’ve built from the people we’ve met through work. Our business is about meeting people. We have been fortunate to have met a lot of people who have helped change our lives for the better.

50BOLD: Sharing a mutual passion for real estate, is this why you decided to work together? 

Joanne: My passion has been real estate because that’s all I’ve ever done all my life; coming from a family business. It’s all I know; it’s my passion. The story is that Ron was selling cars, phones and driving a limo. I shared with him what I made on the closing of a property, and it was probably triple the amount of money he made and in less time.

I convinced him because of his salesmanship skills and his personality that real estate should be the field for him and this is how we connected. I showed him that real estate was much more financially feasible.

50BOLD: Is having a matched drive the critical element that sustains your successful working partnership?

Joanne: I think our drive is different and that’s why we come together. I believe that Ron’s drive is…

Ron: You talk about yourself (he says playfully).

The Rollieson’s kitchen

Joanne: I was just going to share that I’m very determined. I’m a hard worker. I’ll work to the end. I’ll work until 10 o’clock at night. I’m a master negotiator. And that’s why we get along because we are opposites.

Ron will shut it down in a minute. I respect that. I haven’t learned to do this yet. I think it’s a good quality. My aunt used to tell me, “Joanne, you’ve got to take a power nap.” I don’t know how to do this, but Ron does.

Ron: When I first met her, she had a hard time speaking publicly. Now you can hardly shut her up. It’s ying and yang. I like to look more at a vision — at what things could be. Once she’s into the vision, she’ll make it happen.

Joanne: I was going to say this about him, as far as being a visionary, he is a very creative thinker. I’m very literal. So this also balances us out.

50BOLD: How large and how old is English Realty Associates?

 Joanne: The company has been in business for 65 years. I’m continuing the family legacy along with my husband and my son. And then we have six other agents and an administrator. We are a small company in order to be able to give you the individualized attention you need. When you say how large is the company that’s a figure of speech. We have a big name and long, long history.

50BOLD: Do you limit real estate to the work day or do you bring it home?

Joanne: I bring it home. You have to understand; I own a business, a family-owned and operated business. I am the broker. I am the CEO. I am the bill payer. It’s hard not to bring it home. I have properties, not only that Ron and I own together but the company, the business we own. In case of emergency, a snowstorm, a tree falls on a building, I’ve got to have my phone always on. I’ve got to be able to receive emergency calls, I can’t just entirely shut it down because something major might happen.

50BOLD: Now, Joanne, can you share with our 50BOLDers your health challenges? What did you undergo healthwise and how did it change your life?

The Rollieson’s bathroom

Joanne: Absolutely. I share this story; it’s a part of my life. I am a two-time cancer survivor. My first battle with cancer was at age 21. I was diagnosed with stage 3B Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And the doctors told my parents that I had only six months to live.

Lo and behold, I went through chemotherapy, radiation, and so forth. During that time, and being so young, I didn’t understand the significance of cancer. So I didn’t internalize it; didn’t really accept it. I did more to console my parents because they were very upset that I was going to die. I went through six months of treatment. The worse thing about it all was nausea. I had a lot of people praying for me and this is how I really learned about God.

After my last treatment, I went back to the doctor and blood work was drawn from me. After the six months of treatment, the doctor told my parents he had never seen results like this before. The results that came back…it was as if, I had never been stricken with the disease. I attribute the end results to my positive attitude and to the consistent prayers that surrounded me.

I continued to live my life and got back into real estate. I was selling houses to celebrities. I was rolling. And at age 45, I was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer. So here we go again. I had cancer again. And the second time, I was a little bit more afraid because I was older and more aware that cancer is a very severe illness.

My family was afraid because they knew this is my second bout with cancer. I was scared, so I began seeking support. I decided I would take the pressure off of the family by going out to find support. I joined places like Gilda’s Club, Tennis for Life, hospital support groups, all types of support groups to take me away from home and to get me out and about and to think positively again.

With all that that was going on in my life, I decided to form my own cancer organization called Spring Bling, Think Pink. At that point, I made up my mind that I was going to keep this organization going for as long as I live because I felt God kept me alive after my second bout of cancer for a reason.

I was going to give back to cancer organizations that shared my same vision. I think a lot of people are very secretive about cancer. I believe that people look at cancer almost as if it is contagious. It is a lot better now, but my thought is to share my story and let people know that the disease does not have to be a death sentence. Nor is it anything to be ashamed of. That’s why I give the Pink Party with a Purpose to let people know that it’s okay to talk about it. And when you talk about things like cancer, I believe that it kind of releases toxins in your body and in turn help you heal.

50BOLD: Did you have to go through the whole radiation and chemo all over again?

Joanne:  Yes, all over again–radiation, chemo, loss of hair, loss of eyelashes, but I didn’t lose my faith.

50BOLD:  Was Ron your support, your rock?

Joanne: Absolutely, he was my support, and I know, it was hard for him. It was hard for the boys. And it was hard for everybody around me. I am a strong person. So to see me down, they didn’t know what to do…it was hard.

50BOLD: Thanks for sharing your story, Joanne. I know you have and will continue to inspire others. Now, Ron, you inspire others as a motivational speaker, how fulfilling is this for you?

Ron: I always had a passion to speak publicly. I was fortunate enough recently, to open at an event for one of the world’s most renowned motivational speakers, Les Brown. We had over 300 people come to hear him, and I was one of the opening speakers.


I received a lot of good responses and it boosted my morale. It is something I can do in addition to working in real estate. Presentation is an essential part of real estate. It is crucial to properly express to a client what the future can hold if they make a good investment.

50BOLD: You are known as the Realtors to the Stars. Ok, name drop!

Ron: My company built Mark Jackson’s house when he was with the Knicks, we also handled KRS-One, Kid Capri. Joanne has also worked with Ray Chew, musical director for Dancing with the Stars, Lil Kim, Tyson Beckford, D’Angelo, and the late Charlie Murphy. But what keeps the business running are the nickels and dimes, the family and friends that also purchase.

50BOLD: How is the real estate market today?

Ron: On fire! As we speak, I’m in the middle of a home inspection for a house I put on the market and sold in 2 days.

50BOLD: Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market?

Ron: Right now, we have a bevy of buyers. We have more buyers than we have houses to sell right now.

50BOLD: What are some of the challenges you face in your work?

Joanne: The biggest challenge is dealing with a bank regarding a pre-foreclosure and people having to sell their house on a short sale. Getting the banks to release the property on a short payoff so that the seller can move on with their life is not easy and is the biggest challenge we face right now.

50BOLD: Circling back to Spring Bling, how long has it been going on and why did you decide to hold it in Fort Lauderdale?

Joanne: Every year I do a breast cancer benefit. I held it at my home because it made sense. We have a large house, can fit a lot of people in it, and have more money to donate to cancer organizations.

There was going to be a point where we might not have it because we thought about selling the house which meant where would Spring Bling go? Since we frequent Fort Lauderdale, and that’s where I went when I was dealing with cancer, I’d go and heal on the beach.

We decided to have a trial Spring Bling Weekend Retreat in Fort Lauderdale four years ago. We enjoy Florida because we own a place there. We were able to find a place that will allow people to donate food and so forth.

Florida has a Gilda’s Club. Gilda’s Club is a cancer organization that people can go to for free seeking support. I went to Gilda’s Club in New Jersey when I was dealing with cancer; then they closed down. I decided to donate to the Gilda’s Club in South Florida. Spring Bling is in its fourth year in Florida. There is a three-day weekend retreat. We have a meet and greet on Friday. We have the big Pink Party Gala on Saturday. And then we have an inspirational breakfast on Sunday morning.

It is an amazing little weekend retreat a real complete celebration of life. And at our inspirational breakfast, everyone shares a story of survival.

50BOLD: You also hold a Winter Bling?

Joanne: Correct. When we moved the event to Florida, it was such a fantastic weekend retreat. We started doing Winter Bling because people were like, ‘Joanne,

you stopped doing Spring Bling in your house, and we can’t get to Florida. And we still want to support.’ I do Winter Bling every December. It’s not as big as Spring Bling; we have 60, 70 people show up at the house. I have a gospel performance where local talent comes and perform.

50BOLD: What is there about each of you that most people don’t know?

Joanne: Now, people didn’t know that I am an artist. Recently, I have been showing my artwork.

Ron: I do car shows. A lot of people don’t know that I have a number of classic cars.

If you drive up in a new Rolls Royce or Ferrari, some people like it and some people hate it. But if you drive a classic car, everybody loves it.

50BOLD: You go to classic car shows?

Ron: I put on the shows! I’m giving a major car show and parade on Memorial Day in Englewood, New Jersey.


50BOLD: What’s left on your bucket list?

Joanne: Jointly on our bucket list, we’d like to obtain many more properties that will pay us an income so that we don’t have to work. We’d like to live off the income generated from these properties.

50BOLD: What is your motto or the mantra you live by? 

Ron: From the time you wake up to the day they drive you down the street in a hearse, no matter what happens to you, it could be worst.

Joanne: Live every day as if it were your last. Tomorrow is not promised.

The Rollieson clan!

50BOLD: How would you like to be remembered?

Ron: I’ve been fortunate enough to have people come back to me to say how I’ve inspired them. “Listen, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be running 15 miles every week.” I don’t run 15 miles every week, but I was able to get someone else to do it. “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be playing tennis.”

Joanne: I cared, and I shared.