This PBS special highlights aviation in Wyoming. The interview portion with myself and Director Panos, starts around minute 6 or 7. Just click the green to view the link.
One year ago today, the trajectory of my life changed. I lost the Cheyenne Mayoral election and the children’s museum lost its ballot initiative.. In a short and unpredictable 24 hour period, my future became my past. I was left with useless campaign material and a feeling of confusion, numbness, and pain.
I forced myself to put on makeup, show up at work, and put one foot in front of another. I said thank you, cried, and ate too much. I hid. Losing was hard. Harder than I thought it would be.
In the last year, I have hugged my family more, traveled, and have a new work family at WYDOT. It took a while, but I have found balance in life and take care of myself by exercising regularly, eating well, and sleeping more. I found a new normal. My family and friends remain tremendous supporters in my life and continue to provide me unconditional love. I’m happy.
And I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the experience, for the support, and for the opportunity to still do good things. I’m thankful that my family is healthy and my children are thriving. I’m thankful that I have time in my life for people and to work on my passions. Thank you to every one who has reached out to me over the year or asked me how I am doing. I can honestly say, I’m thriving.
On this one year anniversary of my loss, I just wanted you all to know that I actually feel very much like a winner.
An article in today's Washington Times
Cheyenne mayor candidate named state aeronautics director
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A Cheyenne woman is the new director of Wyoming’s Aeronautics Division.
Amy Surdam is a nurse practitioner who owns urgent care facilities in Cheyenne and Laramie.
She’s also a lieutenant colonel in the Wyoming Army National Guard and founder of a children’s museum under development in Cheyenne.
Surdam ran unsuccessfully for Cheyenne mayor in 2016.
Her new job in the Wyoming Department of Transportation involves overseeing air service development. She also manages state-owned aircraft.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/2pm5uWO) Surdam is making $104,400 a year in her new role.
Article in today's Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Wyoming Business Reports, and several other publications around the State.
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.
I know I wasn't elected, but that doesn't mean I don't care about my community and what happens to it. In fact, it's painful to watch years of work being derailed.
FEMA approved the Civic Centers Commons grant application. Twice. The properties around the park get flooded. Often. In 1985 we had a flood that pushed the tenants of the Hynds building out. That building is still vacant as we all know. More flooding without storm water mitigation will continue to have negative effects on our community. The storm water drainage is needed. Yay for us for trying to make it look nice with park elements and an amphitheater.
We voted on and passed this project as a community. What this article doesn't say is that the City intends to divert our 6th penny funds to other road projects and likely are trying to avoid ongoing maintenance costs of a new park.
Just a few of my questions: What is Jim Voeller's relationship with this consulting firm from Denver? Has he worked with them previously? How are they able to weigh in on this without visiting our community or conducting all of the necessary tests? Who was involved in selecting this firm? Was a public RFP sent out?
More than 19 million dollars of private investment and 53 plus jobs are at stake. That increased revenue alone will pay the ongoing maintenance costs and contribute to the tax base for other projects. FEMA has approved this application. They are not going to come back for their funds if the storm water is provided as outlined.
I applaud Pete Laybourne, Rocky Case, Richard Johnson, and Mark Rinne for their efforts to see this project to success. I sincerely hope the rest of the City Council will stand up for this project and others that will lead to progress in our community.
Yesterday was the first day of school…I mean, of my new job.
I am now the Aeronautics Administrator of the State of Wyoming.
Never in my wildest dreams when I was doing digital rectal bowel program stimuli (exactly how it sounds) did I think I would deviate so far form my career path to become an Executive in Wyoming. I was trained to write nursing care plans and now I write strategic plans. I barely know how to spell aeronautics. Not joking.
Lexie made me a beautiful new black briefcase that I “moved into” the morning of. I met with HR and signed up for all sorts of crazy benefits like vision and disability. In healthcare, such benefits don’t exist. At least not in my career. In fact, I have never even had a salary or vacation time in my twenty year career as a Nurse Practitioner. In medicine, I have always been hourly or commission (eat what you kill mentality) and I have loved every second because I have always had as much time off as I wanted. I just didn’t get paid for it.
I know you would think that my suit and fancy title equals a higher paying job than being a clinician, but it doesn’t even come close. I would earn more as a Nurse Practitioner. And I would have more time off (unpaid :)). Other than the benefits, why do it?
I asked my self that same question for over a month. Between yoga classes and meal planning, I keep coming back to one answer: I have to.
I have to for all of the women in Wyoming. We need women in leadership to set examples and inspire others to achieve. We need women in leadership to show that there can be work life balance and ideal workers aren’t the only ones who succeed. We need women in leadership to show that it’s okay to pivot in life.
I have to for my kids. I have to show them that failure can lead to success and that losing sometimes is winning. And that no matter what, life goes on.
I have to for our State. We actually need air service to recruit and retain our workforce: something I believe passionately about. If WYDOT and Bill Panos felt I could help move this along, then I should use my talents to do so.
And I have to for me. Today is a new day. One in which an end is a new beginning.
Should I Take the Job
I have a difficult decision to make: Should I take the job or not?
Why I Should Take the Job.
Why I shouldn’t take the job.
3. My day would be flexible. Did I mention I like routine?
4. I could breath. For the last three years, and possibly the last forty-three years, I have gone non-stop, worked several jobs at the same time, and pushed myself as hard as I possibly could. The idea of not pushing is so foreign that it’s kind of intriguing…and also terrifying. I wonder if I could learn how to breathe and enjoy each moment for what it is? What would I do with that space if I actually just embraced it instead of filled it?
Breakthrough 307 Announces the Launch of 2.1 Million Angel Investment Fund with 21 Investors On Board
Dan and I are so grateful to have this opportunity to help others succeed and help Wyoming grow and prosper.
BREAKTHROUGH 307 ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH OF $2.1 MILLION ANGEL INVESTMENT FUND WITH 21 INVESTORS ON BOARDBreakthrough 307 January 31, 2017
(Casper, WY) Breakthrough 307, a foundation for connecting entrepreneurs with investors as well as the skills they need to succeed, announces that their first investment fund has been launched with 21 angel investors from many different industries and disciplines.
“Breakthrough 307 provides entrepreneurs the ability to share their ideas to a group of individuals with established networks and varied talents. The access to this group from the entrepreneur viewpoint is invaluable. The outcome from the successful submissions will promote economic growth and personal success,” said Investor, Chris Tice of Jackson.
The investors are primarily from Casper, but there is also state wide representation with investors from Laramie, Cheyenne and Jackson. The fund is comprised of 21 accredited investors all contributing $100k for a total of $2.1 Million. This fund is to be used to invest in promising and scalable, start-up and early stage companies to help bolster the Wyoming economy and promote innovation in the cowboy state.
“This year Wyoming’s economy was last in the nation. We want to help diversify and improve Wyoming’s economy by investing capital into start-up companies and entrepreneurs with promise and potential. We are going to invest our time, talent, and treasure to help entrepreneurs succeed… to help our state succeed. Think Shark Tank only cowboy style," Investor, Amy Surdam of Cheyenne commented.
“I view [investing in Breakthrough 307] as an excellent way to help the community and promote small businesses in Wyoming. I’m excited to have exposure to opportunities outside of my normal purview,” added Dr. Eric Cubin of Casper.
Although angel investment isn’t right for every company, it can often mean the difference of the next big idea sitting in a garage or actually being in the market and producing economic value. Breakthrough 307 investors not only invest their money, but they also invest their time, knowledge, and connections to help these companies succeed. “Having a wide range of specialties within the group is essential for providing the best resources to entrepreneurs and their qualified businesses,” noted founding member, Charles Walsh of Casper.
View the full line up of investors or to learn more about angel investing and how it may benefit your start-up on our website.
For more information contact:
Founding Member, Breakthrough 307
This is is a short talk I gave at a Wyoming Entrepreneurs gathering. It was a packed house at WH21 with hip like minded people.
I’m Amy Surdam and I’m an entrepreneur.
To be a successful entrepreneur you need three things.
The first thing you need is vision. Did you know that only about 10% of the population are visionaries? That means we can see things no one else can see. We can see the end state. The end product, the end results. The most difficult task you will ever face is getting other people to see what you see until it is actually here. Whether it’s through a business plan, a strategic plan, marketing, or the concrete end product, your job is to help others see what you can see.
The second thing you need to be a successful entrepreneur is perseverance. Perseverance is digging deep then digging deeper, it’s not quitting when things get tough, and it’s overcoming all obstacles to achieve your vision.
Perseverance is not easy, in fact, it is extremely challenging.
In Leadership Wyoming last year, I created a life mission: to gratefully and intentionally serve my family and my community. For me this can come in many forms and take on many different visions. In my life, heck, in this last year, I’ve had many opportunities to persevere to achieve this mission.
I ran for Mayor, and I lost.
I put a tax on the ballot, wanting something grand and beautiful for the community, and it lost.
And you know what? Losing sucks.
On November 10th I felt nothing short of broken. It took everything I had to get dressed and cover my puffy, tear filled eyes with make up and go downtown. I forced myself to walk into the Paramount and grab my latte, then go to work like I always did. For weeks every time someone looked at me with a sympathetic look, I cried.
Just because I am not serving my community the way I thought I should doesn’t mean I can’t fulfill my life mission of intentionally and gratefully serving my community.
I’m not weak. And neither are you. I’m in the Army and the lessons I’ve learned don’t allow for failure. You get up, dust yourself off and move on. Find another solution for your obstacle. Adapt and overcome. If you really want to be an entrepreneur, you must persevere.
Which brings me to the third item you need to be successful and the way I am choosing to persevere. You need capital. You need money. Whether it’s your own or someone else’s, you have to have it.
My husband and I are members of a group called Breakthrough 307. We are 20 Wyoming Investors who want to invest our time, talent, and treasure and help entrepreneurs like you succeed. We want to diversify and improve Wyoming’s economy by investing capital into up to ten high potential, high growth, start up companies over the next two years. Specifically we are looking for medical, tech, manufacturing, and energy companies. We want you to succeed. As a state, we need you to succeed. This year we were last in the nation for our economic state. Last. We must overcome this. Think Shark Tank only cowboy style.
If you or someone you know is interested in being considered as an entrepreneur then please reach out to us at www.breakthrough307.com.
We are also looking for connectors to help us help them. We need experts willing to assist with time and talent in marketing, accounting, legal, etc to help our entrepreneurs achieve success.
Vision, perseverance, capital...And make up. You can succeed. And maybe we can help you.
This year I climbed the highest wall I’ve ever climbed.
I almost made it to the top before I came crashing down
I’m still full of bumps and bruises but I’m alive and you know what?
That wall doesn’t seem as high as the first time I tried to climb it.
I swear I didn’t sleep this year, I didn’t waste a single minute of time.
I lived big and then I lived bigger. I gave this year every damn thing that I had.
I was promoted in the military, traveled to the east coast, the west coast, and the Middle East.
My husband and I opened another practice.
I graduated from Leadership Wyoming and my oldest son graduated from high school.
I helped launch Wyoming’s first ever traveling children’s museum, a concert series, a women’s mentoring conference, and a bike share program just to name a few.
I helped the museum put a tax initiative on the ballot through a petitioning process. We made state history by doing something no one has ever done before… and almost won.
And I ran for mayor… and I lost.
My little boys stayed little, my son Dawson grew up. And my time at the DDA ended.
Despite climbing all the way up that wall and falling down, I have to say this has been one of the best years of my life.
I left this year with more than I had started with: more love, more support, more friendships, more hope, and more optimism than I ever possible could have imagined.
Thank you 2016 for what has been the worst and best year of my life.
On this page....
Enjoy a personal look at my experiences. Click here to review my blogs on healthcare and here for previous aeronautics blogs in the Fly Wyoming Newsletter. And please no negative comments! Being vulnerable is hard enough without all the cyber bullying!