City manager prepares for retirement, reflects on 24 years of government service

Nancy Ridley, retiring City Manager, poses for a photo in her office Sept. 14 in City Hall.

After 24 years working for the city of Mount Pleasant, City Manager Nancy Ridley announced her retirement from the municipal government. 

“I’m going to miss the everyday differences we made in the community,” Ridley said. “I’ve seen everything that the city government makes possible behind the scenes: clean water, working lights and a safe community to sleep in at night.”

Ridley has been a member of the city since she became the director of finance in 1997. 10 years later, Ridley was promoted and became the assistant city manager in addition to her finance position. In 2014, Ridley officially took over as the city manager.

However, Ridley’s roots to Mount Pleasant go back to her time at Central Michigan University. She was a business student with plans far different from city government. The director of finance position sparked her passion for local government.

“I was one of those individuals who came to CMU and never left Mount Pleasant,” Ridley said. “It will always be my home.”

Ridley was involved in two fundamental efforts during her time as city manager: the West Broadway Revitalization Project and the purchase of the Mount Pleasant Center property.

“These projects spanned my entire career and are decades in the making,” Ridley said. “Watching them continue to make improvements even now, almost 20 years from the first meetings, is so inspiring.”

However, Ridley said the most rewarding aspect of her job is the people she's worked with. Her biggest accomplishment is the relationships she’s formed, rather than one specific project.

“I’ve worked with a number of city commissioners and staff and I've learned something from all of them,” Ridley said. “I’ve also appreciated working with local partners to do things for the greater community.”

Nancy Ridley, retiring City Manager, poses for a photo at her desk Sept. 14 in City Hall.

Throughout her final six months with the commission, they searched for a new city manager and recently landed on Aaron Desentz, a city manager out of Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Ridley intends to train Desentz during the final two weeks of her employment. Her final day will be Oct. 29.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling having to leave and I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully ready,” Ridley said. “But I plan to assist Desentz to my full capability.”

Although she is retiring, Ridley has no plans to leave the Mount Pleasant community. She hopes to find another job in Mount Pleasant and will always be available to provide wisdom for the city commission.

Ridley hopes to see the commission focus on implementing the new master plan after she retires.

“My ‘retirement wish’ is that they utilize the talent of the staff and all of our city,” Ridley said. “We have a lot of strong foundations in place and it would be a mistake to get comfortable and stop pushing ahead towards new ideas.”