The head of Connecticut Innovations, Claire Leonardi, has announced her resignation from the quasi-state agency. Leonardi has led Connecticut’s technology investment arm for almost three years.
There’s been speculation about Leonardi's future since her husband, Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi, announced last month that he was leaving his state post for a job in New York. She had previously said she intended to stay on, but she told WNPR that in the end, the time seemed right for a transition.
"CI is in a great place, a great team, really feels settled," Leonardi said. "For me personally -- I'm 59 years old -- you look at your career, and there's different career points at which you make decisions."
Leonardi said she hasn't contemplated her next move, but she'd like to find another position where she can make an impact. She said she's proud of her work building on CI's previous achievements, and leveraging new capital injected into the agency by the 2011 Jobs Act.
"Part of what I wanted to do," Leonardi said, "and what we have accomplished, was to really ramp up our venture investment.... I think we have done a remarkable job in really increasing the startup community."
CI also went through a major re-branding effort under Leonardi to increase its visibility and outreach.
The chairman of the board of Connecticut Innovations, Michael Cantor, thanked Leonardi for her service, praising her “extraordinary vision.”
During her time at the agency, Leonardi oversaw the merger with the Connecticut Development Authority, and also brought CTNext, the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem, within the CI fold. Her tenure also marked the implementation of the $200 million Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing. Three months ago, CI failed to get a funding request before the bonding commission, and had to delay some of its programs as it ran short of cash. As a consequence, contractors for CTNext were told they wouldn't be paid until January.
Leonardi will leave the agency in early January. The board will announce a successor in coming weeks.