Sister Lillian Murphy will retire in June after 27 years of leading Mercy Housing, one of the nation’s largest affordable housing developers and owners.

Jane Graf, Mercy’s president, will step into the CEO post in July.

Since assuming the role as CEO in 1987, Murphy has grown the organization to become an award-winning national nonprofit organization with a presence in more than 40 states. She is a national spokesperson for the cause of affordable housing and the needs of low-income people.

Murphy was inducted into Affordable Housing Finance’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

"I have no hesitation that this will be a smooth transition," Murphy told Affordable Housing Finance.

She said she's ready to retire and Graf is ready to take the reins of the Denver-based organization.

Murphy, who plans to move back to her hometown of San Francisco, will continue to serve as a resource for Mercy Housing.

“Sister Lillian’s dedication and leadership over the last 27 years have helped make Mercy Housing one of the most respected and effective developers, owners, and managers of affordable housing in the country,” said Barry Zigas, chair of the Mercy Housing National Board of Trustees, in a statement. “Her vision for the organization and commitment to our mission has made a major impact on the affordable housing industry, the communities we serve and the lives of Mercy Housing’s residents.”

Murphy is only the second CEO to lead the organization since its founding 32 years ago. As Mercy Housing’s third CEO, Graf will be the first lay leader for the organization.

Zigas added that “Mercy Housing’s Board of Trustees unanimously supported Jane’s selection as the new CEO. Sister Lillian leaves ‘big shoes to fill,’ and we are fully confident in Jane’s ability and vision for moving Mercy Housing forward.”

Graf began her career in nonprofit housing development in Oregon in 1978, and in 1981 she founded Specialized Housing, a statewide nonprofit housing development organization in Oregon. After relocating to Northern California in 1986, Graf joined Catholic Charities in San Francisco. She led the group’s housing work until 1992 when a merger between the housing development department of Catholic Charities and Mercy Housing created Mercy Housing California. Graf became president of the California region in 1993, and subsequently was named Mercy Housing COO in 2011 and president in January 2013.

“I am honored and humbled to be next in line for the privilege to serve as the CEO of Mercy Housing, especially as I look back at the lineage of Sister Lillian and Sister Mary Terese Tracey before her. Standing in line beside these two bold and fearless women brings me a sense of strength and energy,” said Graf. “I share their commitment to our mission, our vision, and our values. I look forward to engaging with staff, supporters, and partners to help the organization evolve, innovate, and expand our reach to serve the growing number of people in need of quality affordable housing.”

Watch a video about the announcement.

Donna Kimura is deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance. Connect with Donna on Twitter @dkimura_AHF.