Gainesville Department of Doing director resigns

Wendy Thomas, director of the Department of Doing, submitted her letter of resignation to Deborah Bowie, interim city manager, on Feb. 1.

Wendy Thomas has overseen “doing” in Gainesville for 2 1/2 years and brought virtual inspections and artificial intelligence to city planning.

Thomas, director of the Department of Doing, submitted her letter of resignation to Deborah Bowie, the interim city manager, on Feb. 1. She chose to leave for personal reasons, Thomas said.

She was the first director of the department, which oversees city planning and building, Thomas said.

This is the first resignation of a city director or manager since Anthony Lyons resigned as city manager on Dec. 11.

Andrew Persons, the senior planner for the Department of Doing, will become interim director on March 2, said Chip Skinner, the city spokesperson.

In July, Thomas, 56, was diagnosed with breast cancer, so she wants to spend more time with her husband who serves at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

Thomas began as director in September 2016 and said she couldn’t resist working in a department with “doing” in its name.

Under her leadership, Gainesville became the first city in Florida to conduct virtual inspections of buildings and develop artificial intelligence with UF to review building plans, Thomas said. These virtual improvements will lessen the department’s carbon footprint in the future.

Thomas said the building and planning teams worked separately before she came to the department. She made it her mission to bring them together.

In November, the department proposed the gnvRISE program to create affordable housing in Gainesville. This project was met with mixed reviews in a November city commission meeting when the commission decided not approve the proposal.

“The work that we did around proposing an incentive-based affordable housing program is work that I am, in fact, very, very proud of,” Thomas said.

Taylor Girtman is a third-year journalism student from Fort Myers, Florida. She enjoys drinking good coffee and writing metro stories.