Cheyenne’s Amy Surdam named state aeronautics administrator
By Becky Orr
CHEYENNE – The former director of a downtown Cheyenne improvement group is now focused on the skies above Wyoming.
Amy Surdam of Cheyenne is the new aeronautics administrator for the state Aeronautics Division, which is part of the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
“The goal of the Aeronautics Division is how to restore and maintain rural air service in Wyoming,” she said.
Surdam previously was the executive director of the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority, a group formed to revitalize and support downtown Cheyenne.
She also ran unsuccessfully for Cheyenne mayor in the 2016 election.
In her new job, she oversees air service development in the state, working with the Air Service Enhancement Program, and distributing state and federal money to develop airports through the Airport Improvement Program.
She manages the state-owned aircraft, which provides flights for the governor and other state officials on official state business. She also administers grants.
“When you think about air service and airports in Wyoming, they have an enormous economic impact for our state,” she said.
A 2013 economic impact study about aviation, for example, found about 12,000 jobs in Wyoming are related to or associated with aviation.
But air service faces challenges, she said. The Essential Air Service program provides federal money that currently helps two rural airports in Wyoming. But the program’s future is uncertain because President Donald Trump said he wants to eliminate it.
“We need to create a new, sustainable funding strategy for airports in the state,” Surdam said.
Working in aviation is part of her interest in creating and retaining the state’s workforce and helping Wyoming succeed, she said.
Surdam started the job March 1 and oversees 23 people. She was one of 56 people who applied, and she was selected from eight finalists that were interviewed by some members of the state Aeronautics Commission and WYDOT employees.
Her salary is $104,400, a year.
“Amy is a great leader and will bring those skills to our Aeronautics Division and agency,” WYDOT director Bill Panos saidFriday. “She also has a great ability to bring people together and is a great relationship builder.”
Dennis Byrne filled the position before her. He was promoted to chief financial officer for the Aeronautics Commission, according to Panos.
Surdam also is a lieutenant colonel in the Wyoming Army National Guard and is the founder of the future Children’s Museum of Cheyenne.
She grew up in Cheyenne, is a graduate of Cheyenne’s East High, and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Wyoming in 1996 and a master’s degree in nursing in 2004.
She also became a nurse practitioner. Surdam and her husband, Dan, own Stitches, an urgent care center with facilities in Cheyenne and Laramie.