Joanne Minieri, Suffolk County’s commissioner of economic development and a deputy county executive, is resigning from her $178,000-a-year job and her chief deputy, Theresa Ward, will be her temporary replacement.
Minieri, 56, who joined the administration four years ago, will depart July 15 to pursue an undisclosed “new opportunity.” Scott Martella, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone, said the administration has begun a search for Minieri’s successor and officials could not say whether Ward would be a contender.
Bellone, in a statement, said Minieri brought “private sector intellect and know-how to get jobs done to improve the county’s economy.” Martella said the county executive learned of her decision to leave “very recently,” but her departure is “very amicable” and she is “leaving on good terms.” Minieri did not return calls for comment late Friday.
Minieri, a certified public accountant, came to the county after working for 17 years at Forest City Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center, where she was president and chief operating officer for the last four.
“She was more a private-sector person than a government person,” said a former economic development official who worked with her but did not want to be identified.
“It’s a loss for the county,“ said Jim Morgo, former chief deputy county executive and onetime county economic development commissioner. “She was very responsive and knowledgeable on development issues.”
Bellone in his statement also credited Minieri for helping develop his regional transportation and development plans — Connect Long Island and the I-Zone to link academic and research institutions such as Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Lab and Cold Spring Harbor Lab with hubs such as Patchogue and MacArthur Airport with rail and rapid bus links.
As chairwoman of the county industrial development agency, Bellone said, she also helped finance or provide tax breaks to 55 projects that attracted or retained 9,700 jobs with $460 million in capital investment.
Ward, 46, of Southold, joined the county last December as Minieri’s chief deputy, making $158,922. Ward previously worked as an economic policy aide to former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and current Mayor Bill de Blasio. She will serve as acting commissioner of economic development, but will not hold Minieri’s deputy county executive title.