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.
Commissioner Smith’s top economic development priorities are to strengthen the state’s efforts to nurture and drive innovation; effectively promote and market the state’s many business advantages within Connecticut and beyond its borders; and place a renewed emphasis on all aspects of customer service in order to make the state more business-friendly and attractive for investment.  

Her community development priorities include improving the state’s ability to redevelop brownfields, continuing the state’s commitment to responsible growth and transit-oriented development and fostering arts and culture to make our cities more vibrant and attractive.  The commissioner is forging closer working relationships with private sector partners to realize these objectives and to maximize the return on state investments.

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 the Vice Chair of Outward Bound, USA.


     {Ron Angelo}

Ronald F. Angelo, Jr. has served as Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) since 2004.


Deputy Commissioner Angelo is responsible for administering several economic and community development programs for DECD, which is the lead state agency for business and housing development in Connecticut. Deputy Commissioner Angelo is directly responsible for the department’s Office of Business and Industry Development and the Office of Municipal Development. He oversees programs that target retention and expansion of in-state businesses as well as state and federal programs that focus on building stronger neighborhoods and communities. In addition, Deputy Commissioner Angelo has oversight of economic development projects for the City of Hartford and other municipalities where DECD is a partner.


Prior to his appointment to DECD, Mr. Angelo served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).  As Deputy Commissioner for DCP, he had oversight of agency divisions including Trade Practices, Drug Control, Liquor Control, Food and Standards and Occupational and Professional Licensing where he was involved in daily operations and worked to reorganize business units and provide strategic planning.


Mr. Angelo has extensive experience in the private sector and brings strong business management skills to DECD. He has started, bought and sold several small businesses. Prior to his state service he was Owner and President of Connecticut Outfitters, Inc. (COI) until it was acquired in 2003. As a retail and internet company with locations in Avon and Hartford, COI was a leader in the New England outdoor recreation industry with clients worldwide.  In addition, Mr. Angelo was also Owner and President of RFA Associates, which served as a representative for national and international manufacturers. Mr. Angelo previously held several management positions with the former Connecticut Bank and Trust Company and Fleet Bank where he served as Vice President of Personal Asset Management.


Deputy Commissioner Angelo earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut in 1986. In addition, he has earned numerous professional designations and securities licenses.


Deputy Commissioner Angelo serves on a number of professional boards and commissions and his civic and charitable involvement is extensive.  He is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation and the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.




Christopher "Kip" Bergstrom, DECD Deputy Commissioner

{Christopher }

Kip has 30 years of experience as a strategist, business executive, economic development professional and place-maker.  He is a nationally prominent advocate of place-centric economic development.  He has participated in the successful repositioning the City of Stamford, the State of Rhode Island and Connecticut’s largest bank.  His interests, writings and accomplishments span the full spectrum of economic development, including tourism, education and talent, transportation, entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, real estate development, and the interface of the human network and the natural system.


On April 12, 2011, the General Assembly approved Kip as the Executive Director of the Commission on Culture and Tourism.  On July 1, 2011, the Commission merged into the Department of Economic and Community Development and Kip became a deputy commissioner of DECD with a portfolio that includes the development of the innovation economy, statewide branding, as well as the arts and culture, historic preservation and tourism functions.


From 2008 to 2011, Kip served as Executive Director of the Stamford Urban Redevelopment Commission, the development agency for the City of Stamford, which has been instrumental in transforming Stamford into New York’s principal business satellite for financial services and corporate headquarters.  Kip also coordinated Reinventing Stamford, a civic conversation and a strategy in action, enabling Stamford citizens to take a role in their own destiny.  As part of that initiative, Kip led a diverse group of 300 business, community, political and education leaders in an in-depth exploration of the emerging conditions that will impact Stamford, and the opportunities in them for long-term economic growth, energy-efficiency, environmental quality, and reduced economic disparity.  The goal is a resilient, thriving city that is a magnet for talent, a center for innovation and a model of green values where people want to live and work.


For ten years, from 1998-2008, Kip was the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Policy Council, a private/public partnership which included senior leaders of business, labor, government and higher education. In that position, Kip developed an economic strategy for Rhode Island, positioning it as part of the tri-state Boston metro economy. Kip also launched initiatives to improve Rhode Island’s business climate, innovation capacity and quality of life, bringing the state to a position of national leadership across a broad spectrum of economic and community development dimensions. Rhode Island was among the four states that made the greatest improvement in the Kauffman Foundation’s New Economy Index between 2002 and 2007.  Historically a regional laggard, from 1998 to 2008, Rhode Island often led New England in job and income growth, increasing its share of the Boston metro’s high wage jobs.


From 1993-1998, Kip was Stamford’s first economic development director. He helped create prospect development networks and peer-to-peer selling teams that resulted in a dramatic turn-around of the Stamford economy, outperforming every city in Connecticut and every major business center in the New York metropolitan area.  Kip was directly involved in 66 successful business recruitment and retention projects, totaling 6,500 jobs and 2.5 million square feet of space, including the attraction of the 2,200 employee North American headquarters of UBS, the world’s second largest bank.


Prior to coming to Stamford in 1993, Kip held senior management positions in the private and public sectors.  He has a Masters Degree from the Kennedy School of Government and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where he was the first student to specialize in economic development.


Kip lives in Old Saybrook with his wife, Marilyn Piurek, and four dogs.  He has two grown children, living in New York and London, and one granddaughter.