New chief will focus on job creation and growth
In one of his highest profile appointments to date, Governor Dannel P. Malloy today named ING executive Catherine Smith to lead the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Smith, who lives in Northford, has worked for ING for the past 10 years; prior to that, she worked at Aetna for 17 years.
“I’m thrilled that Catherine has agreed to take on this immense challenge at the helm at this agency,” said Governor Malloy. “She agrees with me that the number one issue facing this state is job creation.”
“For far too long, DECD has been too insular and not welcoming enough to potential businesses who wish to locate or expand here. That stops now. Catherine’s business acumen, her knowledge of Connecticut, and her passion to grow and expand business opportunities here made her selection a no-brainer,” Malloy continued. “Catherine will be fully empowered to create a new organization with a new approach, calling on the best tools on a national level that can be applied here in Connecticut. I’m looking forward to working with her.”
“I am honored that Governor Malloy has appointed me to this newly-defined position,” said Smith. “We will begin the process of attracting more jobs to Connecticut by actively promoting the state, and making it a place businesses want to stay and grow. Governor Malloy’s reorganization plan is a huge step in the right direction—what sense does it make to have seven separate economic development and marketing bureaus all charged with the same task, but going about it in different, and sometimes, disorganized ways? I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and working with the Governor to put Connecticut residents back to work.”
“Throughout her career, Catherine has modeled community service, community involvement, and community leadership,” said Rob Leary, CEO, ING Insurance U.S. “Therefore, this next step in her career is a natural extension of her life-long passion for public service. We thank Catherine for her many years of hard work and dedication to ING, and we wish her the very best in her new pursuit. The citizens of Connecticut are fortunate to have Catherine stepping into this key position for the state.”
Smith is currently the Chief Executive Officer of ING U.S. Retirement Services, a position she’s held since 2008. In this capacity, Smith helped ING weather the recession and retain customers, while helping them to navigate the economic storm. Smith managed 3,000 employees and had oversight of sales, marketing, operations, customer service, product development, risk management and finance.
Prior to this position at ING, Smith served in several other capacities at ING, including in their retail and insurance groups. While she served as the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Smith merged several customer service line operations into one, consolidating fourteen service centers to four, reducing operating unit costs by 30% over three years, and improving customer satisfaction and employee morale.
While working at Aetna from 1983 through 2000, Smith worked in a variety of areas, including investment management, corporate planning, health plans, investor relations and financial services.
Smith graduated from Hampshire College and received her Masters in Public and Private Management from Yale University. She is on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Trust for Public Land, and Outward Bound USA. She has been recognized by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.