The man who has led the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority for 25 years will step down in June.

Executive Director Anthony O’Leary, 68, told the AMHA’s board this week he will retire on June 1, giving the agency time to complete a national search for his replacement.

O’Leary has been at AMHA since 1993. He took the reins after an 11-month search by AMHA that netted more than a few headlines as the agency struggled to settle on a new leader.

But the board was impressed with O’Leary’s ability to motivate people and his familiarity with the city in his role as Akron’s Planning and Urban Development chief — and their decision has lasted 2½ decades.

“When he accepted the position with the organization, the authority was in turmoil, having leadership problems and board issues,” said John Fickes, who has been on the AMHA board since 1998 and currently serves as its chair. “The first thing he needed to do was stabilize the organization, and he did.”

Under O’Leary’s leadership, Fickes said, AMHA programs thrived, employees never went on strike, and he adeptly steered the federally funded authority through many housing policy changes in Washington, D.C.

“I will tell you that his work is the kind of thing that gets people to have buildings named after them,” he added.

“Personally, I think he’s the best executive in and out of government I’ve met.”

AMHA this year will celebrate 80 years in Summit County, where it owns, manages and develops affordable and low income housing. It currently provides housing assistance to nearly 10,000 households and 22,000 people.

While funding primarily comes from federal funds, the agency also relies on private dollars and local foundations to support its array of social service programs, including senior and disabled services, early childhood education and programs assisting families to become economically independent.

The agency has earned national recognition for two HOPE VI projects — Cascade Village in North Akron and Edgewood Village in West Akron. HOPE VI federal grants used are designed to transform aging public housing developments.

O’Leary commended his board, staff and other community partners for keeping a “primary focus” on housing and programs aimed at “the most vulnerable citizens in our community.”

“While these are very difficult times for our clients and for publicly funded programs serving those most in need, I leave AMHA with both a sense of accomplishment but also awareness that our work is never done,” he said.

AMHA has retained a Washington, D.C., human resources firm to conduct a national search for a new director, beginning in mid-February.

“We are really sorry to see him go, but he’s leaving us in good shape,” Fickes said.

Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or pschleis@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.