The woman who’s been leading the Iowa Department of Economic Development for the past year will leave that job in mid-September. D-E-D director Mary Lawyer will become chief executive of the Downtown Community Alliance in Des Moines.

“I’ve worked in state government for 16 years and I think it’s a good time for a change,” Lawyer says. Lawyer started at the Department of Economic Development in 1990. She was named deputy director in 1999 and last summer when D-E-D director Mike Blouin resigned to run for governor, Lawyer was named to the top job in the agency.

Lawyer lists as a highlight of her tenure in state government her work on the Vision Iowa program which handed out huge state grants to large-scale community projects, like the sports arena in downtown Des Moines and the Mississippi River museum in Dubuque. She also lists the Values Fund, which handed out huge state grants to businesses promising to start-up, expand or re-locate in Iowa.

Lawyer describes that program as “the capstone of a great career in state government.” Lawyer is a native of Webb, a small town southeast of Spencer. A spokeswoman for the governor says Vilsack will name a replacement for Lawyer soon. Former D-E-D director Mike Blouin is rumored to be at the top of the list.