Economic and Community Development Commissioner Alexandra Daum will leave state service early next year and will be replaced by current state Chief Innovation Officer Daniel O’Keefe, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday.
News of Daum’s departure comes roughly one year after Lamont named her to lead the agency. Daum, a former real estate investor and deputy commissioner of DECD, is expected to depart the administration early in 2024 for a job at Yale University.
O’Keefe will assume the role of commissioner after serving as Connecticut’s first chief innovation officer following 25 years of investment work in companies innovating in the software, consumer and financial technology markets, according to his DECD biography.
“Dan’s background helping innovative companies grow will be a huge asset to our administration and the state as a whole,” Lamont said in a press release. “He has a deep understanding of how to foster an environment that supports economic growth. His insights and expertise will ensure we are making the right strategic decisions when it comes to strengthening our competitive position – both now and in the future.”
In addition to taking over as DECD commissioner, O’Keefe will continue to serve in his role as chief innovation officer until a replacement is found. O’Keefe said he was excited to expand his role at the agency at a “unique moment in our shared history.”
“With its robust education system, culture of entrepreneurship, supportive ecosystems, and strategic investments in our communities and people, Connecticut has the right foundational pieces in place for sustained growth,” he said. “Our state is uniquely positioned to continue to benefit from trends we’ve experienced coming out of the pandemic.”
The change in leadership at DECD comes amid a period of turnover in Lamont’s administration. On Monday, the governor administered the oath of office to incoming Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Ronnell A. Higgins, who previously served as Yale University’s associate vice president for public safety and community outreach. Higgins took over for longtime public safety chief James Rovella, who retired last week.
Both Higgins and O’Keefe will need to be approved by the legislature when lawmakers reconvene for session in February.