The Illinois Housing Development Authority is in the market for a new executive director.

CHICAGO - The Illinois Housing Development Authority is searching for a new executive director to replace Mary Kenney, who leaves Friday to join BMO as its director of U.S. government affairs.

Kenney was general counsel for the authority four years ago when then Gov. Pat Quinn recommended that she be elevated to the top post after the departure of Gloria Materre.

Kenney first joined the authority in the 1980s as an administrator of its home ownership portfolio. She later received a law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and in 1994 joined the law firm of Johnson & Bell. She returned to the authority in 2000 as general counsel.

"Under her leadership, IHDA took on new roles and fought tirelessly on behalf of the state's partners to protect the resources that support homebuyers, homeowners and renters," the authority said in a statement. "After some of the most difficult years in our state's history, she will leave the authority stronger than ever, with an upgraded credit rating and new tools that spur the development of affordable housing opportunities in every market."

With a competitive selection process currently underway to establish a new pool of underwriters, public finance bankers have wondered whether the leadership change would impact the timing or selection of a pool or even wind up with a new process being launched. The authority declined to comment, citing state procurement rules on such communications during an active procurement process. The deadline to submit proposals was Sept. 9.

The authority serves as the state's lead conduit arm to help finance low- and moderate-income housing through bond issues, tax credits, and other state and federal assistance. Proceeds from its debt issues, which include multifamily and single-family revenue bonds, provide loans for mortgages. The state in 2004 consolidated most of its conduits into one, the Illinois Finance Authority, but left the IHDA intact. The agency said since its creation in 1967, it has allocated $14.6 billion and financed approximately 245,000 affordable housing units.

Standard & Poor's in 2013 upgraded the authority's issuer credit rating and debt supported by its general obligation pledge one level to AA-minus in recognition of its strong overall financials.

Kenney's departure is the latest change to hit a state conduit. Rauner, the freshman GOP governor, has begun in recent months to make his mark with appointments on conduits as board members and executive director resign or their terms expire.

In May, Rauner named Joseph Galvan to serve as IHDA board chairman. He is a former Midwest regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Change among executive director positions at conduits has been mixed. The Illinois Toll Highway Authority has a new director but the Illinois Finance Authority has kept its director.

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