Cathy Conlow will leave her job as city manager of Bangor in early August to become the executive director of the Maine Municipal Association, Bangor City Council chair Dan Tremble said Tuesday.
Conlow has been the city’s chief executive since 2010, when she took on the role after previously serving as Orono town manager.
Conlow gave her 60-day notice to individual council members on Monday, Tremble said.
Tremble praised Conlow, noting her efforts for the city to build the Cross Insurance Center and bring significant economic development with the Waterfront Concerts series.
“Under Cathy’s leadership, we’ve accomplished a lot,” Tremble said, noting that the transition to a new city manager will be made easier by the fact that Conlow “laid a great foundation.”
The City Council will begin discussing its search for Conlow’s replacement in an executive session on Monday next week, Tremble said. He expects that the council’s search will examine candidates from across the country.
Conlow came to Bangor after serving six years as town manager in Orono. Before that, she served as public services director in Blaine, Minnesota, near Minneapolis. She took that job after working in county government in Oregon for 12 years. She is originally from New Jersey.
The Maine Municipal Association lobbies the Maine Legislature on behalf of the state’s towns and cities, and provides a number of services to member towns, including legal services and insurance coverage.
Conlow said she was honored to be chosen as the association’s leader after 33 years in local government and saw the job as “the perfect opportunity to use my knowledge of local government to support the good works of the 486 municipalities across the state.”
The association’s 12-member executive committee unanimously approved Conlow for the role, committee president Jim Gardner said in a Tuesday email to association members.
Gardner, the town manager of Easton, noted Conlow’s executive municipal experience, and said her reputation as a team builder and innovator made her an apt fit to lead the association.
“She always strives to move her organizations forward,” Gardner said. “That is exactly the kind of leadership the EC sought in finding someone to fill the not-easy-to-fill shoes of Steve Gove.”
Gove has led the association since 2015. He will retire having worked in numerous roles for the association for more than four decades.
Much has changed in the decade-plus Conlow has been Bangor’s city manager.
Opioid addiction has been a frequent topic of conversation among city officials, and Conlow was instrumental in starting the effort that became known as the Community Health Leadership Board — a regional effort involving the city and health care providers to tackle opioid addiction. That group spearheaded work to reduce opioid prescriptions locally, establish a detox center in Hampden, distribute the overdose antidote naloxone and expand medication-assisted addiction treatment.
The city’s waterfront has also received a makeover during Conlow’s tenure, with the construction of Bangor Savings Bank new waterfront headquarters. The city is now in the midst of a multi-year project to install underground sewage overflow tanks to reduce raw wastewater overflows into the Penobscot River. The city is doing that work under a 2015 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.