Alan Arthur
Alan Arthur

Alan Arthur, the longtime president and CEO of affordable housing firm Aeon, announced that he will be transitioning out of his role after more than three decades of leading the Minneapolis-based organization.

Arthur has been with the nonprofit since 1988, assuming the top post just two years after Aeon’s founding. In recent years, the organization has successfully brought $100 million in new and innovative funding to create and save more than 3,000 affordable homes. Today, it serves 15,000 people each year at more than 5,600 Aeon apartment homes.

The move comes at a time when Aeon is in solid position, with strong leaders throughout the organization and ambitious goals set in a new strategic plan, according to Arthur.

“Any leader has to ask when is the right time to pass the baton,” Arthur tells Affordable Housing Finance. “As I thought about it, all of those ingredients led to me to say it is the right time.”

Under his leadership, Aeon opened the first housing in the country available for youth who were experiencing homelessness, developed the first multifamily affordable LEED Platinum-certified property in the Upper Midwest, and oversaw eight historic preservation projects that are now on the National Register of Historic Places. In recent years, Aeon has been a leader in saving naturally occurring affordable housing properties, work that’s kept thousands of low-wage families in their homes.

“I’m going to miss Alan. I think lots of us will,” says Rick Purcell, an Aeon resident and board member. “For someone with so many years of experience and such great influence, I always noticed how he treated people. Whether someone was in a suit and in charge or cleaning the bathrooms, Alan treated them with respect and is always just himself. That says a lot about his character.”

Over the years, Arthur has earned many awards, including the national Mike Sviridoff Leadership Award from the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and was inducted into the Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame by the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business in 2019.

Arthur and Aeon have been inextricably linked for the past three decades.

He jokes that he had 27 prior jobs and was Aeon’s second choice for the role. A carpenter, Arthur built single-family homes. He also worked as a director of a building and zoning department and tried to sell real estate when interest rates were 17% in the mid-1980s.

Working at Aeon turned out to be a perfect fit for the jack of all trades. Joining the organization when it was still starting out allowed Arthur to grow alongside the nonprofit. He stresses how fortunate he’s been over the years.

“To be able to do work that makes a positive impact on the community, to wake up every morning and go to work with people who care deeply about their community and others, and to do work that’s really interesting and challenging, those three things make me the luckiest man in the world,” he says.

Arthur says he’s not the type to sit on the beach for more than five minutes and expects to find ways to stay active.

He will remain in his post until a successor is selected and the transition is completed. Aeon has hired the Minneapolis search firm Cincinnatus, which specializes in the nonprofit sector, to lead the search for a new CEO.