ATLANTA --Susan J. Leigh returned this week to the Florida Housinc Finance Agency as its new executive director.

Leigh, who assumed her duties Monday, was chief development officer at the agency from 1987 to 1992. In 1992, she was named executive director of the Texas department of housing and community affairs.

Leigh replaces Mark Hendrickson, who resigned from the Florida housing agency last month to set up The Hendrickson Co., a housing consulting firm. Hendrickson had been executive director since 1981.

"Susan will be a hands-on manager," Hendrickson said yesterday. "I cannot think of a better person for the job."

Tommy Tompkins, the Florida agency's board chairman, said that Leigh's experience at the agency was an important factor in its decision to name her executive director.

"With Susan, we won't have to go through a break-in period to get her up to speed," Tompkins said. "She'll hit the ground running."

In a statement, Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles also praised the selection.

"Susan Leigh has distinguished herself through her commitment to help make affordable housing a reality for more of our citizens," Chiles said. "I'm confident this appointment places the FHFA in the most capable hands."

During Hendrickson's tenure, the agency took the lead in Chiles' campaign to ban bond firms from making political contributions to bond issuers in Florida. In 1991, the agency adopted a rule that barred any bond lawyer or underwriter who contributed to a state-level candidate from doing business with the agency for five years.

Recently that rule was relaxed to. permit bond industry participants to make contributions of up to $100 to state-level candidates, with the exception of governor.

The Florida Housing Finance Agency has been a prolific issuer of debt since its creation in 1980.

So far this year, the agency ranks 21st among housing bond authorities, with four issues totaling $144.2 million, according to Securities Data Co. Two deals, totaling $121.2 million, were single-family offerings. The other two were multifamily issues.

In 1993, the agency ranked 24th, with nine deals totaling $175.3 million. Five issues, or $85.6 million, were single-family issues. In 1992, the agency was 11th, with seven deals totaling $332.2 million. All but one, a $7.2 million offering of multifamily debt, were single-family revenue bonds.

According to the Florida agency's own tally, it has financed or assisted in the financing of more than $4 billion of housing for more than 265,000 people in the state.

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