Louisville Forward Chief Mary Ellen Wiederwohl stepping down from Metro Government post

November 06, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer announced today that Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, long-time chief of Louisville Forward, is leaving Metro Government after an impressive tenure working to boost economic development in the city.

“Mary Ellen has been a valuable member of my team since nearly the beginning, and she will be sorely missed. When I recruited her, she promised two years of service, and here we are eight years later,” Mayor Fischer said. “She has been a super critical leader in our city’s economic renaissance through her skills in strategy development, team building, community partnerships, and just plain old hard work. Mary Ellen loves this city and has worked tirelessly to help us build a community where every person has the opportunity to achieve their full human potential. This can be exhausting work, and I’m pleased for her that she soon will get a well-earned rest.”

Wiederwohl joined Mayor Fischer’s team in 2012, and two years later, the Mayor asked her to lead Louisville Forward, the city’s integrated approach to economic and community development. During her tenure, Louisville Forward has been named a Top Ten economic development agency by Site Selection Magazine for six years in a row, and has helped attract more than $17 billion in investment, and landed over 300 job creation projects.

Wiederwohl has helped lead a range of initiatives, including the Vision Louisville 25-year long-term plan, the Move Louisville strategic multi-modal transportation plan, the city’s first sustainability plan, the Global Louisville Action Plan and the Vision Russell initiative. Most recently, Wiederwohl has helped develop the city’s Build Back Better, Together initiative, designed to help the city push through the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis and create a more resilient, equitable economy.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to serve the people of Louisville, work with the amazing leaders of city government, develop partnerships across the community and country, and create Louisville Forward, building it into a recognized best practice with a long list of accomplishments in economic, community, and workforce development,” Wiederwohl said. “I am extremely proud of the work the Louisville Forward team has done to attract, retain and grow businesses, and I am especially proud of the work we’ve done to return vacant and abandoned properties to productive use, redeveloping commercial corridors and historic neighborhoods, expanding affordable housing throughout Louisville, and ensuring that we make investments without displacing long-term residents and businesses.”

Wiederwohl has enjoyed several recognitions for her professional and community leadership.  In 2019, Business First awarded her its Woman of Influence recognition, and the Telugu Association of Kentuckiana named her its Women’s Empowerment Champion. She was nominated by the Business and Professional Women of Louisville for the Woman of Excellence Award in 2009, and in 2010 she was named to the Business First “Forty Under 40.” The following year she was named to the Louisville Magazine Top Ten list of Louisville’s most powerful people under 45; in 2014, Mary Ellen was listed in the magazine, this time on the Power 50, top females, and under 45, and in 2018, she once again enjoyed recognition in the magazine’s most powerful list. 

2017 brought a very special honor, when Mary Ellen received the Brennan-Haley Award for Outstanding Political Science Alumnus from her alma mater, the University of Louisville.

Mayor Fischer said Wiederwohl will stay on the job until the end of the year, ensuring time to hire her successor and ensure a smooth transition.

Wiederwohl said, “I am full of hope for our city, and I will continue to work, as a private citizen and resident, to support our resiliency and recovery efforts and the fight for racial justice and equity. My love for Louisville knows no bounds, and you can be sure that wherever my life path takes me, it will include service to her and the pursuit of justice and opportunity for all.”

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