Press Release
July 25, 2012
3 minute read


Contact: New Jersey Economic Development Authority
(609) 858-6687

TRENTON, N.J. (July 25, 2012) — After twenty years leading the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), Chief Executive Officer Caren Franzini has tendered her resignation effective September 30, 2012.  A special EDA Board of Directors meeting was held today in order to inform the Board, as well as take action regarding an Executive restructure following Ms. Franzini’s departure this fall to pursue private sector opportunities. In her place, the Board of the EDA voted to approve a new Executive structure that would include Governor Christie key advisor and senior staff member Michele Brown taking on the new role of Chief Executive Officer.   

“I have had the unique pleasure to serve the people of New Jersey in a tremendously rewarding  job for over two decades, and now, with the EDA entrusted  with so many tools for economic growth and positioned for continued success,  I have decided it is time to move on to a new phase in my career,” said Ms. Franzini. “EDA is a special place with a dedicated and talented staff that will be especially hard to leave, but I have deep comfort in the knowledge I am leaving it in good hands with staff I have worked with for many years, as well as new leadership with a demonstrated level of commitment and integrity.” 

EDA Chairman Al Koeppe noted, “I have had the opportunity to work with Caren and the EDA for over 20 years, including my two terms as the Chairman. For all of that time, and under her leadership, the EDA has been a source of pride for the State. The distinguished high performance of this Authority has been achieved during volatile economic times, through changes in political leadership and the natural ebb and flow in the composition of its highly technical workforce. 

“It is clear that, in Caren, the EDA had a very unusual leader who was able to function very effectively at the strategic level as CEO, as well as a highly technical operating level as a COO. She had the energy and deep skills to fill both roles superbly. But that doesn’t mean that the EDA’s organizational structure, given her departure, would be ideal, particularly given its dramatically increasing responsibilities.” 

During today’s special Board meeting at the Chairman’s recommendation, the Board voted to approve a new Executive structure that would include a Chief Executive Officer, with a new, position of President/Chief Operating Officer. The Board’s approval included the appointment of Michele Brown as the EDA’s new CEO, tasked with providing oversight of the Authority’s strategic direction, sound ethical and governance processes, and the tools and resources necessary for the EDA’s economic development mission.

Ms. Brown currently serves as the Appointments Counsel to Governor Chris Christie, and in that role has provided strategic and legal advice to the Governor and Cabinet, in addition to working closely with the New Jersey Legislature. A graduate of Drew University and the Georgetown University Law Center, she has had a long and distinguished career serving the U.S Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey.  During her 18 years of service, she advanced to the position of Acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney, responsible for the management and operation of a 300 employee office, including direct supervisory responsibility for each of the major prosecuting divisions at various times.  Ms. Brown specialized in white collar cases, including corporate, bank, health care and securities fraud, tax and money laundering efforts. 

“On behalf of the entire State of New Jersey, I want to thank Caren for her effective leadership of the EDA. I have enjoyed working with her and will miss her a great deal,” said Governor Chris Christie. “I want to congratulate Michele Brown on her appointment. She is a person of great intellect and integrity. While she will be missed in the Governor’s office, I am confident she will lead the EDA with her honest, open and effective style to even greater heights.”

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno added, “In my role overseeing the Partnership for Action, I have worked closely with Caren and her team, and I look forward to continuing our very successful working relationship with EDA’s senior management, led by Michele, to continue creating jobs and advancing business growth in New Jersey.” 

The Board also acted to appoint EDA’s Senior Vice President of Finance & Development Timothy Lizura to the new position of President/COO. In this role, Lizura will provide leadership of the EDA’s business operations, overseeing management of the EDA’s incentive and financing program portfolio, real estate development, as well as the Authority’s financial and accounting matters.  

“In working with the Board and EDA staff, Tim has played a significant role in developing the Authority’s portfolio of incentive programs that are now regarded as the most creative, effective and fiscally sound in the country,” said Mr. Koeppe. “I have the utmost respect for his abilities in overseeing the business development activities and financial oversight of the Authority.” 

An additional personnel change designed to ensure the continued strong performance of the organization included the announcement that EDA’s Senior Vice President for Governance & Communications Maureen Hassett will replace Mr. Lizura as the Senior Vice President of Finance & Development.