Surdam Resigns From DDA.
Her last official day on the job will be Jan. 15.
“I think there are philosophical differences between myself and the new administration,” Surdam said Thursday.
The new administration is Cheyenne Mayor-elect Marian Orr, who defeated Surdam in the Nov. 8 election for the city’s top job.
“I feel the DDA will be better served under different leadership. I feel like I’ll be more effective in other ways, and I look forward to being involved and focusing my efforts on other projects to better Cheyenne,” Surdam said.
When asked to elaborate on those differences, she said, “I want a positive, thriving community.”
The decision to leave was hard to make, and one she considered for a while, she said.
Surdam announced her departure Thursday in a letter sent to DDA Board President Wally Erickson and board members.
Cheyenne DDA is a downtown improvement organization.
The authority taxes property owners who live inside its boundaries.
In her letter, Surdam noted that she is proud of accomplishments during her tenure. The board appointed her in May 2015.
These accomplishments include establishing a bike sharing program, the installation of a temporary ice rink at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza, developing designs to update alleys in downtown Cheyenne,
moving ahead with the 17th Street Lighting Project and efforts to open a grocery store cooperative.
Other steps ahead include strengthening the façade improvement program, developing a microloan program and creating an Adopt the Block effort, she said.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many developers, business owners and entrepreneurs. I have loved connecting people and being a catalyst for projects and the success of others,” she wrote.
Erickson wrote in an email that Surdam has been an integral part of DDA’s success over the past year and a half.
“She is an extremely passionate advocate for downtown. She is an extremely hardworking, dedicated leader and has worked countless hours in moving the DDA and downtown forward in a positive direction,” Erickson wrote.
Surdam allowed the board to focus more on policy and strategy through her effective handling of day-to-day management and DDA activities, he added.
“She has been the catalyst in shaping the DDA into a much more effective and organized entity,” he wrote, adding Surdam was instrumental in numerous projects, programs and plans.
“She will be greatly missed at the DDA, but I believe she will continue her advocacy for Cheyenne’s downtown in other capacities,” he added.
The board is working on a transition plan that it will discuss at future meetings, he said.
DDA recently hired Andy Hogan, who brings a strong marketing background, Erickson said. Hogan will work closely with DDA Program Director Desiree Brothe and the board to handle daily operations in the interim.
“We are also looking forward to working closely with the new city administration, including Mayor-elect Orr and City Council, in our future strategies, planning efforts and projects,” Erickson wrote. “We believe those discussions, as well as the continued collaboration with the other economic development organizations, will help us shape our direction in 2017.
“We will likely decide direction for staffing the executive director position after this coordination occurs,” Erickson concluded.