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Suffolk economic development chief departs for NYC technology job

Theresa Ward, seen on Sept. 14, 2016, is

Theresa Ward, seen on Sept. 14, 2016, is leaving her post as Suffolk County commissioner of economic development and planning. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Suffolk County economic development chief Theresa Ward is leaving for a technology post in New York City, she said in an email sent Friday to her staff.

Ward was appointed commissioner of economic development and planning in 2016 by county executive Steve Bellone. Her appointment to the $173,000-a-year job was confirmed by the county legislature.

She subsequently was named a deputy county executive.

Ward also was elected board chair of the county’s Industrial Development Agency in March 2017. That post doesn’t come with a salary.

She plans to remain in her IDA post, according to a spokesman for the agency, which provides tax breaks to expanding businesses.

Ward did not respond to a voicemail message seeking comment on Friday. In her email to staff, she said, “I have accepted a new position in the tech sector in New York City. Chief Deputy Commissioner Natalie Wright will step in as acting commissioner, effective end of day on July 17th.”

Ward said she would continue to own a home in Southold. She joined county government in 2015 as chief deputy to then-development commissioner Joanne Minieri.

Ward succeeded Minieri as commissioner and IDA board chair. Minieri left county service for a job with RXR Realty in New York City in 2016.

Bellone praised Ward on Friday, saying, "Under her leadership, the department has helped construct hundreds of units of affordable housing, implementing the first regional bike-share program and implementing key components of the county's economic development plan, Connect Long Island."

Wright previously worked in the state Office of Storm Recovery, which helped homeowners and businesses rebuild after superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

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