Ken Baggett, a longtime force in the affordable housing industry, has died. He had been battling cancer.

Co-CEO of CohnReznick and later chairman of the firm’s board, he helped establish the company as a top national advisory, assurance, and tax firm. An expert in real estate and tax issues, Baggett worked with many people in the affordable housing industry, especially developers. In many cases, he guided young developers in closing their first deals.

“Ken Baggett was one of the most generous and visionary corporate leaders I have ever known,” said Noel Khalil, founding partner and CEO of Columbia Residential in Atlanta. “I met him nearly 30 years ago, and he personally taught me the low-income housing tax credit business. At that time, I was the only employee at Columbia Residential.”

Since then, Khalil’s firm has grown to become one of the largest affordable housing developers in the Southeast with over 300 employees.

“I directly relate Columbia Residential’s success to the counsel given to me by Ken Baggett,” he said. “I will miss my friend.”

Baggett served as managing principal and CEO of the Reznick Group, leading it to a top national accounting firm. He was then instrumental in that firm’s merger with J.H. Cohn in 2012, a move that further strengthened the company.

Baggett brought a mix of expertise and passion to his work, according to longtime colleagues.

“It was always great to spend time with Ken,” said Beth Mullen, head of the affordable housing group at CohnReznick. “He was a visionary thinker and brought so much experience to the discussion.”

Mullen recalled Baggett speaking at a Reznick event even though he worked at a competing accounting company at the time. He was that good, and David Reznick would soon recruit him to join his firm and establish the Atlanta office.

“He really cared about people whether they were clients, employees, or people he just met,” Mullen said.

Baggett was recognized in both the affordable housing and accounting industries. In 2017, he was inducted into The Advisory Board’s “Winning Is Everything” Hall of Fame, which recognizes leaders whose influence advances the CPA profession and leaves a legacy of innovation. He was consistently listed as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Accountants by Accounting Today and as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners by CPA Magazine.

Baggett spent much of his career in Atlanta before retiring near his alma mater in Auburn, Ala. He served as president and board member of the Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition, served on the board of Government Transformation Initiative, and was president and board member of the Auburn University School of Accountancy Advisory Council.