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Catherine Smith, DECD Commissioner

Catherine Smith is the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the lead state agency responsible for attracting and retaining businesses and jobs, revitalizing neighborhoods and communities, and fostering appropriate development in Connecticut’s towns and cities.

Since being appointed to the position in April 2011, Commissioner Smith has spearheaded a variety of programs to generate economic activity and expand business across Connecticut. She orchestrated the creation of the Small Business Express program and the Manufacturing Innovation Fund, as well as securing funding for the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund. She also coordinated the agreements that brought Jackson Laboratory to the state and re-committed UTC to Connecticut.

Commissioner Smith has also prioritized revitalizing our downtowns, redeveloping brownfields, and strengthening communities across the state. Under her leadership, the state has made historic investments in brownfield remediation and redevelopment and she has designed and piloted the Good to Great Grant program, which provides grants to not-for-profit organizations that sponsor cultural and historic sites in Connecticut.

Prior to joining DECD, Commissioner Smith had a distinguished career in the insurance and financial services industry.

She began her career at Aetna in 1983 and held various management positions, including investment officer and chief financial officer for Aetna Financial Services. Later at ING she served in numerous leadership positions including chief operating officer for ING U.S. Financial Services, and CEO of the U.S. Insurance businesses.    

In 2008 Smith was named CEO of ING U.S. Retirement Services, one of the largest defined contribution plan managers in the United States with more than $280 billion in assets under management and administration. 

Smith graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and received a Master’s in Public and Private Management from the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut. 

Smith has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences and in the media and has been recognized byU.S. Bankermagazine’s “Top 25 Most Powerful Nonbank Women in Finance”.  Smith is a board member of Outward Bound, USA.

Bart Kollen, DECD Deputy Commissioner

Bart Kollen joined the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) as Deputy Commissioner in February 2016.  He is responsible for managing the business development, financial review and compliance departments focused on attracting and retaining businesses to and in the state of Connecticut.

Prior to joining DECD, Bart worked at Voya Financial (formerly ING US) and ING Insurance where he served in several different capacities since 1997. Bart’s most recent assignment at Voya was working with Fortune 500 companies as well as small and mid-sized organizations to design and roll out education, savings and advice programs to engage employees and help them save adequately for retirement. While at ING, Bart also worked in customer service operations, sales and served as chief of staff to one of ING’s global business leaders. 

Prior to joining ING, Bart worked for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in Washington D.C. on grassroots and public policy concerns.

Bart is a graduate of Leiden University in The Netherlands (having earned a Master of Public Administration there) and completed work at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Bart lives in West Hartford with his wife and three boys.

David Kooris, Deputy Commissioner

David Kooris joined the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) in March of 2018.  He is responsible for orchestrating the placed-based components of the state's economic development strategy including transit-oriented development, brownfields, capital projects, waterfront, and tourism.  His focus is to coordinate public sector infrastructure investment to best prepare communities for private sector growth while enhancing environmental sustainability and quality of life for all.

Prior to joining DECD, Mr. Kooris was Director of Resilience for Connecticut's Department of Housing.  There, he managed two federal grants totaling nearly $65 million for coastal resilience planning across Fairfield and New Haven Counties and the design and construction of several pilot projects for green infrastructure, raised mobility corridors, distributed energy generation, and 21st century flood protection in the City of Bridgeport.

Before state service, Mr. Kooris was the Director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development and Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency for the City of Bridgeport.  There, he oversaw ten departments in the creation of the city's revitalization strategy and its execution in tangible public and private investments.  Mr. Kooris began his career at the Regional Plan Association where he held several positions, most notably Vice President and Connecticut Director.  His work there focused on helping individuals, communities, and agencies better understand the link between social, economic, and environmental factors and better position the tri-state region and its neighborhoods for a sustainable future through coordinated land use and transportation planning.

As an independent consultant, Mr. Kooris has worked on high-speed rail-oriented development, sustainability, and urban revitalization projects throughout the Northeast corridor as well as in Canada, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.

He received an Hours Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Geography from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and a Master’s in City and Regional Planning and a Master Certificate in Urban Design from PennDesign at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

He lives in Stamford with his wife and two daughters.