Courtesy of Office of Governor Ned Lamont

Gov. Ned Lamont named New Haven resident Alexandra Daum as the next commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development in November. 

Daum will be officially appointed at the start of Lamont’s second term, early next year. She is the current deputy commissioner and chief investment officer of the DECD and has held this position since March of 2020. Beginning next year, Daum will replace David Lehman as commissioner.

“She is very focused on community investment and the vibrancy aspect of the economy,” Lehman said about Daum, “To have a strong economy, we need strong communities — whether that’s cities like New Haven or smaller towns.”

In her new position as commissioner of DECD, Daum hopes to support small businesses, incentivize growth of major employers using performance-based incentives and stimulate community development. Daum told the News that mainstreet and downtown areas are of particular focus for community development because of their population density, existing infrastructure and transit.

Daum also aims to cultivate tourism and arts in Connecticut.

“We want to make sure that Connecticut is a vibrant place where there are multicultural attractions that people can take advantage of and that will fuel people wanting to live here and people wanting to visit here,” Daum said.

As a New Haven resident, Daum cites her experiences in New Haven as important to informing her goals as commissioner.

“Living in New Haven has illuminated for me just how much potential Connecticut cities have,” Daum added. “It just illuminates how important it is to have these dense, urban centers where you have academia, culture, retail, office, residential all in one place, all accessible by foot.”

In her role as deputy commissioner and chief investment officer of the DECD, Daum worked to develop physical projects in Connecticut’s communities, facilitating interactions between cities and real estate developers, often focused on main street and downtown areas.

Specifically, she drove Connecticut’s investment in the redevelopment of 101 College St. in New Haven and manages the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant, a state program designed to spur development in public-private partnerships.

“In addition to being intimately familiar with the functions of this important state agency, Alexandra has existing relationships with many of Connecticut’s leading employers and industry leaders, and she is ready to hit the ground running,” Gov. Lamont wrote in a Nov. 16 press release. 

Working alongside Lehman, Daum formed close relationships with Connecticut businesses, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our approach was meeting tirelessly with representatives from all industries to try to find a compromise between the public health goals and what was practical for businesses,” Daum said. “In most cases, I think we struck a good balance.”

Daum told the News that these lines of communication — first opened during the pandemic — remain open and will continue to inform DECD programs.

Reflecting on her experiences working alongside Lehman, Daum told the News that she intends to maintain and build upon many of the programs that Lehman developed. She specifically noted Lehman’s analytical approach to attracting major employers, and his incentive programs where incentives are delivered only after the company delivers on their promises to the state.

She intends to maintain this sequencing, along with Lehman’s open communication with and accessibility to the business community.

“The DECD has been really accessible to the business community,” Daum said. “I would like to continue that both in a broader sense that the agency is accessible and on an individual level that I am accessible to businesses.”

Prior to working for the DECD, Daum founded Field Properties, a real estate company based in New Haven. She also worked as a senior development manager at NHR Group, a real estate services and investment group, as well as in the public sector for former United States President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and MBA from Harvard Business School.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s second term will begin on Jan. 4, 2023.