Cindy Gillespie, the Washington, D.C., lobbyist for the 2002 Winter Games, said Wednesday she is stepping down as a top official of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

She said the move, effective April 17, was her decision."I know the energy it's going to take the lead on federal relations because I did it before and I know I can't do it another four years," Gillespie told the Deseret News.

Gillespie served in a similar role for organizers of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. She was hired as vice president for federal relations in November 1996 by former SLOC President Tom Welch

After Frank Joklik took over the organizing committee last fall, several of Welch's top appointees left. But Gillespie said Joklik tried to talk her into staying.

"I report to Frank and we work very well together - very, very well together," she said. "He hasn't pressured me one way or another. . . (He let me) take the time I needed to make a decision and I appreciated that."

In a statement released Wednesday, Joklik said, "I deeply regret Cindy's decision to resign from her role as vice president for federal relations. She has done an outstanding job for us in Washington."

Organizers are counting on the federal government to provide millions of dollars in assistance for security during the Olympics, as well as to fund a long list of transportation projects.

Gillespie, who is 40, said she needed a change "to pursue other personal aspects of my life," including spending time with her family in Columbus, Georgia.

"I do hope folks will understand it's something I've chosen to do," she said. "But it's something a big part of me wishes I were five years younger and could do."

Her immediate plans include taking a month off before returning to Washington as a consultant for the organizing committee until a replacement is named. She said she does not intend to take on other clients.

Gillespie has been assisted in her lobbying duties this year by an Atlanta-based law firm, King & Spaulding, which has an office in Washington. Gillespie worked for the firm's Washington office from 1990-1993.

Beginning in 1991, Gillespie took on the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games as a client, going to work for that organizing committee as a deputy director for federal and state government relations in 1993.

A year later, she was named director of a separate department within Atlanta's organizing committee, and managed an annual budget of more than $1.7 million and staff in both Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

When Gillespie was hired by organizers of the 2002 Winter Games, she reported to Welch and Gordon Crabtree, former senior vice president for finance. Crabtree resigned shortly after Joklik replaced Welch, citing personal reasons.

After Joklik became SLOC's chief executive officer, he had Gillespie report only to him. She will continue to do so as a consultant, as will the Atlanta-based law firm.