Mary deLaittre, the founding executive director of St. Paul's nonprofit Great River Passage Conservancy, is stepping down after nearly seven years working to better connect the city to the Mississippi.

Her last day will be Tuesday. Laura Bray, the conservancy's communications and development manager, will serve as interim director while local firm CohenTaylor leads the search for deLaittre's replacement.

In 2016, then-Mayor Chris Coleman hired deLaittre to work on implementing the city's Great River Passage Master Plan, which aimed to better utilize St. Paul's 17 miles of Mississippi riverfront.

In 2019, with deLaittre at its helm, the Great River Passage Conservancy launched as the private fundraising arm for three river-focused development proposals: a 1.5-mile balcony spanning much of the downtown riverfront; a National Park Service headquarters and learning center near Crosby Farm Regional Park; and an East Side district that connects parks and trails while honoring sacred Dakota sites.

In a statement Wednesday, deLaittre said her "interest and expertise have always been helping large civic endeavors through their start-up phase."

"Together, we have laid a solid foundation for success as we look to reconnect with the river, and I'm excited and optimistic about what's next for the conservancy," she said.

Last fall, the conservancy and the city revealed final design proposals for the river learning center and river balcony. They're now working to finalize cost estimates and identify funding.

"The conservancy would not be where it is today without Mary's leadership," Peter Myers, the organization's board chair, said in a statement. "In less than four years she has galvanized the community around an exciting vision for the riverfront in the capital city."