DECD: Biographies

Catherine Smith, DECD Commissioner
{Commissioner Catherine Smith}

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.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy appointed her to the position in April 2011. 

Since taking the position, 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 degree 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 by U.S. Banker magazine’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 picture}



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 Masters 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.