Tea Silvestre, director of Hutchins Street Square, resigned Monday after serving in the post for a little more than two years.
"I think she did a really good job," City Manager Blair King said. "We're going to be scrambling around looking for someone to replace her."
Silvestre replaced Charlene Lange, who had served as the city's community center director for more than 25 years. During her time with the city, Silvestre worked hard to promote events at the square and will take that marketing experience to her new job with a nonprofit in the Sacramento area.
King said he's seeking someone to serve as an interim director after Silvestre's last day, which is Jan. 20.
"It was a very hard decision," Silvestre said Monday. "I didn't make it lightly, I really enjoyed my time here."
She is leaving the city to become the marketing director for Pride Industries based in Roseville, and plans to attend Saybrook Graduate School.
"She was a wonderful person," said John Callahan, chair of the Lodi Arts Commission. "I wish her the best of luck, but we really hate to lose her."
After she was accepted to Saybrook, located in San Francisco, Silvestre said she wanted a job that was less demanding than her post with the city.
"It was really a great opportunity that came up, and I had thought it was time," she said of both graduate school and the new job.
Pride Industries is a national company that employs disabled people for service and manufacturing jobs in 11 states.
"I've always admired what they do," Silvestre said.
The company is in the midst of creating a marketing department and Silvestre said she was excited to "get the ball rolling for them and create things from the ground up."
Former City Manager Dixon Flynn named Silvestre Hutchins Street Square director in December 2003. Silvestre had joined the city of Lodi in 2002 as arts coordinator.
King said he knew Silvestre had "some big shoes to fill" when she took over for Lange and he said she has done an admirable job. He said Hutchins Street Square has continued to evolve and mature under Silvestre's leadership.
As community center director, Silvestre earned a salary of $91,932.
Silvestre said she is most proud of starting the Friday Art Hop, which still makes her "teary-eyed" when she sees such strong, local support for art.
She said she is also happy to report in the last year the center has brought in more revenue with less of a budget. With expenses reduced by 10 percent, Silvestre said the center has brought in an average of $100,000 in revenue for the past two years.
Arts Commissioner Judy Bader sung Silvestre's praises, not only as "a wonderful person," but also a good business person.
"She made money for Hutchins Street Square and as a business person she's brilliant," Bader said. "I don't know if they will be able to replace that type of person."