Colin Lenton

Ava Goldman took the reins of one of the nation’s most prolific ­affordable housing firms this year. The new president of Marlton, N.J.–based Michaels Development Co. leads an organization that’s built more than 50,000 housing units since 1973 and is the country’s largest private-sector owner of affordable housing.

Goldman is in exclusive company, becoming just the third president in the firm’s 40-year history, following founder Michael J. Levitt and Robert Greer. When asked to what one can attribute the company’s longtime managerial stability, she cites Michaels’ emphasis on family as well as Levitt’s continued involvement in the organization’s decision making.

Prior to her new post, Goldman, who joined ­Michaels in 1993, served as senior vice president for 12 years. In just the past six, she and her team have developed more than 3,000 units valued at nearly $600 million, a role in which she’s overseen HOPE VI and other mixed-income developments nationwide.

Originally almost entirely an affordable housing developer, Michaels has grown in the student and military housing spaces, as well. Next up for the firm, Goldman says, are mixed-use projects that include “not only residential, but educational facilities and commercial facilities, so that we’re really creating new communities.”

With more than 40 developments in the pipeline, Goldman, a former city planner, says the part of her job she likes most is getting developments to completion.

“It’s exciting when you’re getting close to the finish line and you’re in a closing mode,” she says. “You’re never doing [just] one thing.

“On any given day, you’re working with architects and engineers to help design a community. You’re working with housing authorities and residents to get their input. You’re talking with bankers and tax credit equity providers to figure out how to finance a community. It’s never boring.” MFE