The affordable housing sphere is a very unique planet in the residential universe. We use phrases like “mission-driven” to describe what sets it apart, and many of those involved in this industry say they were called to it, as though it were a religious experience. Just listen to how this year’s Hall of Fame inductees describe the industry:

“As a means to achieve larger ends,” says Paul Fate.

“It’s creating something good for society,” says Richard Goldstein.

“As much as I focus on closing deals,” says Ronne Thielen, “it’s important not to forget what this is all about.”

Hal Keller started his career as a community organizer and tenant advocate. Al Scott talks about guiding principles.

So, it should come as no surprise that the average age of AHF readers inches higher year after year. After all, retirement isn’t the goal for many in this field, and sometimes it’s just ignored: Most industry luminaries, though nominally “retired,” remain dedicated to the calling long past their last paycheck.

A calling has no finish line. And a calling isn’t specific to one generation. Just as our Hall of Famers reminisce about what brought them to this sector, a new wave of the best and brightest answers the call, as evidenced by the young leaders highlighted in this issue.

In a commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, the late tech guru Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

AHF is just 21 years old, and we’ve only selected young leaders since 2008. But my hope is, one day, we elect into our Hall of Fame someone who first appeared in AHF as a young leader, forming an unbroken circle of an endless mission.