Cynthia Parker knew she was stepping into big shoes when she accepted the president and CEO position at San Francisco-based BRIDGE Housing last December: Parker replaced Carol Galante, who was appointed by President Obama as deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing programs at HUD last March. Furthermore, Parker knew that Galante herself filled the equally large shoes of affordable housing icon and BRIDGE founder Don Terner, who died tragically on April 3, 1996, in a plane crash with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and 31 others.

“Bridge has had two CEOs since its inception, and they’ve both clearly left their marks on the organization from a leadership standpoint,” Parker says. “But we do have a lot of other great leaders within the organization, and I intend to keep that team together. They’re super people working their tails off to move affordable housing forward. We also have a very committed board of directors.”

A graduate of Portland State University, Parker most recently served as regional president for Denver-based nonprofit affordable housing developer Mercy Housing. She’s also served as president of the Denver-based National Neighborhood Housing Network and director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She currently is a director of both the Columbus, Ohio-based National Affordable Housing Trust and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle.

Parker’s exposure to virtually all facets of the complex world of affordable housing finance and development will likely color her own legacy at BRIDGE.

“As a banker, policy maker, and developer, I have been fortunate to sit on all sides of the table,” Parker says. “BRIDGE wants to continue—and I want to continue—being involved in public policy. This is really the public policy moment in housing, and I think the people who are involved in the affordable housing industry need to be providing comments and helping to shape that policy. Operationally, we’ll look to up the ante on our production mode because it is also an opportune moment for us to move forward and take on more challenges.”

There’s no shortage of projects at BRIDGE for Parker to do just that—the firm currently has 30 developments in a pipeline that should see 1,000 affordable housing units brought into inventory in 2010. Says Parker: “We are expecting 2010 to be a very good year.” —