Sister Lillian Murphy to retire after 27 years as Mercy Housing CEO

Sister Lillian Murphy
Mercy Housing CEO Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM

Mercy Housing, a national nonprofit affordable housing organization, today announced that Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM, will retire from her position as Chief Executive Officer of the organization in June 2014. Mercy Housing’s National Board of Trustees has selected current Mercy Housing President Jane Graf as the new CEO effective on July 1, 2014.

Since assuming the role as CEO in 1987, Sister Lillian has grown the organization to become an award-winning national nonprofit organization with a presence in more than 40 states. Sister Lillian is a national spokesperson for the cause of affordable housing and the needs of people who are economically poor. She has received several awards for her work, including being named Housing Person of the Year by the National Housing Conference in 2011.

“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. “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.”

Sister Lillian is only the second CEO to lead the organization since its founding 32 years ago. As Mercy Housing’s third CEO, Jane Graf also represents the first lay leader for the organization.

“I have been blessed to work alongside so many people in the challenging and dynamic mission that was established by the Sisters more than 30 years ago,” said Sister Lillian. “I have every confidence that Mercy Housing will continue to bring hope to those we serve for many years to come. I also have every confidence that Jane Graf is the right person to lead this effort.”

Jane Graf - Mercy Housing
Jane Graf, Mercy Housing President

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 to address the housing needs of the developmentally disabled. After relocating to northern California in 1986, Graf joined Catholic Charities in San Francisco. She led their housing work until 1992, when a merger between the housing development department of Catholic Charities and Mercy Housing created Mercy Housing California. Graf became the President of the California region in 1993, and subsequently was named Mercy Housing Chief Operating Officer in 2011 and President in January 2013.

“Mercy Housing is fortunate to have such an outstanding leader with Jane’s knowledge of the complex affordable housing industry and deep experience with Mercy Housing,” said Sister Lillian. “She understands the history, the organization’s strengths and opportunities, and she is fully committed to Mercy Housing’s mission and core values. I join in the Board’s unanimous support and confidence in Jane’s ability and vision for moving Mercy Housing forward.”

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.”

To ensure a smooth transition, Sister Lillian and Graf will travel together across the country to visit with Mercy Housing staff, key partners and other organization stakeholders.

“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.”