The EDA is mourning the passing of its former CEO, Caren Franzini.
Those of us who knew Caren Franzini already recognize the magnitude of this loss. Caren was a personal hero to so many of us, and a true friend to those who had the privilege of knowing her. Her legacy lives on in the culture she built at the EDA over two decades; a culture she inspired with kindness, loyalty, enthusiasm and integrity.
As longtime EDA CEO (1994-2012), Caren’s mark at the EDA will be everlasting, as will her impact on economic development across the State of New Jersey. The resurgence of cities like Camden, Trenton and Newark; the fostering of innovation, through the development of the Technology Centre of New Jersey, the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies and the Waterfront Technology Center at Camden; and her focus on small business and entrepreneurship, are all significant landmarks that will pass from this generation of New Jerseyans to the next.
Caren’s career and influence were truly outstanding, but we will miss her most in far less quantifiable ways. She never forgot a birthday or to ask how your kids were doing. She was the first to say thank you and to give her staff credit. She was the State’s and the EDA's greatest cheerleader and advocate, and a champion for doing the right thing, always. We all are better people, personally and professionally, for having known her and there is no doubt that the State of New Jersey is a better place because of her.
On many occasions, Caren shared quotes from her favorite poet, Maya Angelou, with EDA staff. Caren’s life has inspired all who knew her to value people above all else, to recognize what is truly important, and to live life with meaningful purpose. By every imaginable measure of a person, Caren was a remarkable success.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou