The top executive of Connecticut’s quasi-public economic development agency, Claire Leonardi, will step down next month, the board of directors for Connecticut Innovations announced Thursday.

Leonardi, who began as chief executive officer three years ago, led Connecticut Innovations as it was consolidated with a second quasi-public economic development agency, the Connecticut Development Authority. She also helped the state launch a $200 million investment fund to develop a new bioscience industry cluster centered on the University of Connecticut Health Center campus in Farmington.

“Claire’s extraordinary vision and leadership guided CI to its position as one of the most active venture capital investors in the country, and paved the way for outstanding innovations, such as the $200 million Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund to help commercialize bioscience discoveries, and new investment programs in collaboration with both UConn and Yale to capitalize on each university’s most promising startups,” said Michael Cantor, chairman of CI’s board. “Claire did all this while successfully overseeing a merger, assuming management of Connecticut’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and establishing a number of highly innovative programs.”

Leonardi has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to her time at Connecticut Innovations, she served as a financial adviser to various companies in New York, was a founder of Fairview Capital L.P., and held senior management posts at Crossroads Capital.

“It has been a privilege to lead this organization through its transition to a larger, more diverse, highly visible and impactful participant in Connecticut’s economic development landscape,” said Leonardi, who praised Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration for supporting CI’s efforts. “… This administration has stood with us, championing Connecticut’s most innovative entrepreneurs, who are doing fascinating, groundbreaking work in our state.”

“The governor thanks her for her service to Connecticut,” Malloy spokesman Mark Bergman said. “Connecticut Innovations has been an instrumental partner in creating economic progress for Connecticut families as our state has grown nearly 75,000 private sector jobs since 2011.”

The CI board is expected to announce Leonardi’s successor in the next few weeks.

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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