Takoma Park City Manager Retires After 27 Years of City Service

After 27 years working for the City of Takoma Park, City Manager Suzanne Ludlow will retire on Thursday.

Ludlow started working for Takoma Park in 1993 as the assistant director of housing and community development. She’s worked in a number of different roles for the city, including as deputy city manager in 2008. She served in that position until 2015, when she was appointed city manager.

“The most rewarding part of serving as city manager is helping people who don’t normally have a voice to advocate for themselves,” Ludlow told MyMCM. “How do you talk to a police union or fix a pothole? This is what affects most real people because it impacts their community.”

Ludlow’s always had a passion for urban planning and development but found her role as city manager to be rewarding because of its tangible community impact.

“Even in high school, I wanted to do something that dealt with cities,” Ludlow said. “I was looking at architecture, but wanted to see how communities functioned.”

In college, Ludlow majored in urban studies and earned a master’s in urban affairs. She worked for the city governments of Rochester, N.Y., and Greensboro, N.C. before landing in Takoma Park.

According to Ludlow, she announced her retirement almost two years ago. However, when the city’s deputy manager left for another job, it wasn’t clear who would take over for Ludlow. The search for a new city manager coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, complicating not only Ludlow’s retirement plans but her job as well.

“It was miserable during the pandemic,” Ludlow said. “Every few days there were different expectations about how to work or where to work, and it felt like we were always trying to learn what the new health advice was.”

As city manager, it’s Ludlow’s job to manage the day-to-day operations of Takoma Park such as trash collection and city maintenance. These things don’t stop during a pandemic, and according to Ludlow, the mental health struggles her employees faced because of the coronavirus were “very serious.”

“The changing health requirements were very challenging. We still had to figure out who was going to pick up the trash and provide police services,” Ludlow told MyMCM. “People still had to go to work during the pandemic, which was very traumatic while things were still uncertain.”

However, with the pandemic easing up and the appointment of a new city manager, Ludlow now has time to travel and see her family across the country. She’s also looking into starting some part-time college teaching about city management.

Jamal T. Fox, who currently serves as the city administrator in Camas, Wash., will start work as Takoma Park’s new city manager on Aug. 2. Ludlow’s advice for Fox? “In general, he’s going to be learning the community and the specifics of this job, but I think my advice, in general, is to keep a personal life,” Ludlow told MyMCM. “This job can be all-consuming, and it’s good to have a work-life balance.”

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Maya Rosenberg

About Maya Rosenberg

Maya Rosenberg was a rising senior at the University of Maryland during the summer of 2021. She was studying journalism and public policy with a minor in Spanish. As a Montgomery County native, she was incredibly excited to spend her summer reporting for MyMCMedia.

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