Passing the Baton: A Legacy of Growth and a Vision for the Future at Grow Cedar Valley

posted on Monday, March 25, 2024 in Grow Cedar Valley

As Grow Cedar Valley embarks on a new chapter, we take a moment to celebrate the remarkable contributions of Cary Darrah, our outgoing CEO, and warmly welcome Katy Susong as she steps into the role.

CEO Grow Cedar Valley Iowa

Reflecting with Cary Darrah

Cary Darrah's leadership at Grow Cedar Valley has been a journey of purposeful strides and meaningful impact. Her tenure has been a blend of innovation and commitment, leaving an enduring legacy as we welcome a new chapter.

Reflecting on her journey, Cary shares, “There is nothing about my journey I would change – other than to slow down time a little!” Developing an understanding of local economic and community development as Director of Community Main Street laid the groundwork for what would become a distinguished climb to CEO at Grow Cedar Valley. Cary acknowledges, "None of that growth would have happened without the prior experiences – and many of them were challenging but necessary to understand the responsibilities of the next step." Through each phase of her career, Cary faced obstacles with resilience, each time emerging with insights that not only prepared her for the next chapter but also left a lasting impact on the community she served.

The Cedar Valley Leadership Institute, Cary’s proudest achievement at Grow Cedar Valley, has been instrumental in nurturing leaders within our community, fostering a deeper connection and understanding of the Cedar Valley. "As many are already aware, one of my favorite achievements that I believe made a difference is the growth and enhancement of the Cedar Valley Leadership Institute – empowering and nurturing emerging and existing leaders of the Cedar Valley.  We have grown the opportunity and received feedback from attendees that gaining a better understanding of the community they lead, along with strengthening personal relationships developed during the course, has been extremely valuable."

As Cary prepares to pass the torch, she offers advice to her successor: “Build on what you have established as a trusted and reliable community leader, embrace the changes needed in the current climate and continue growing the collaborative relationships that GCV has in the Cedar Valley and region.”

Welcoming Katy Susong

Katy Susong, stepping into the role of CEO, brings a personal connection and a vibrant vision for Grow Cedar Valley. Having lived in the Cedar Valley her entire life, Katy sees the community as more than a place on the map—it's a source of belonging, safety, and opportunity.

Katy's vision for Grow Cedar Valley is to establish a strong regional identity, enhance the community's appeal through strategic partnerships and placemaking initiatives, and foster an inclusive environment that supports all businesses. “My approach as CEO of Grow Cedar Valley will be characterized by proactive collaboration, inclusive engagement, and a relentless focus on building a brighter future for our region,” Katy states, highlighting her commitment to growth and prosperity for Cedar Valley.

Katy expresses deep gratitude for the support and mentorship provided by Cary and the team, emphasizing the collaborative spirit that defines Grow Cedar Valley. "As I step into the role of CEO at Grow Cedar Valley, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude. The opportunity to lead such an esteemed organization is a privilege I don't take lightly. I am immensely thankful for the confidence placed in me by the board, staff, and the wider community. The Cedar Valley community holds a special place in my heart, and I'm deeply committed to serving this community to the best of my abilities. Together, I believe we can achieve great things. I'm eager to roll up my sleeves and dive into the work ahead. Every challenge is an opportunity for growth, and I'm excited to embark on this journey."

Looking Forward

As Cary Darrah steps down, her legacy of leadership and dedication to the Cedar Valley community will continue to inspire. Katy Susong's fresh perspective and commitment to the region's growth promises an exciting future for Grow Cedar Valley. This leadership transition marks a period of reflection and anticipation, as we celebrate the achievements of the past while looking forward to the innovations and opportunities of tomorrow.

The Grow Cedar Valley team and the Cedar Valley community want to express our gratitude to Cary for her exceptional leadership and warmly welcome Katy as she leads us into a future filled with potential and promise.