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June 3, 2024

Hartford mayor names Infosys exec Auker to lead Development Services

HBJ File Photo Jeff Auker of Infosys has been named Hartford's new director of Development Services.

Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam on Monday named Infosys executive Jeff Auker as the city’s new director of Development Services. 

Auker takes over the position filled on an interim basis by Randal Davis, the department’s deputy director, who has served since I. Charles Matthews resigned Dec. 23 during the final days of former Mayor Luke Bronin’s administration.

An Ohio native who has lived in Connecticut for more than two decades, Auker has led tech giant Infosys’ emerging technology and innovation hub in Hartford since 2018. He also has served since February 2019 as chairman of ReadyCT, a not-for-profit organization that helps students statewide see the connection between school and the workforce. Since March 2023, he also has served on the board of Gov. Ned Lamont’s Workforce Council.

"It is remarkable that a corporate leader with Jeff's stature and extensive leadership experience has chosen to leave the private sector to use his talent to make this city stronger,” Arulampalam said. 

The mayor said the Department of Development Services (DDS) is “a key part” of making Hartford a more vibrant and livable city, and that he believes Auker is uniquely qualified to lead that effort.

“Jeff's background in technology and strategic leadership make him a great fit to lead this agency,” Arulampalam said. “With Jeff at the helm, DDS will focus on innovation and growth across all our great neighborhoods, to the benefit of Hartford families and businesses.”

He added that Auker has a proven track record of driving digital transformation and empowering communities, which “will be instrumental as we build a prosperous future for Hartford."

‘Something more purposeful’

DDS comprises six divisions: Blight Remediation and Housing Code Enforcement; Economic Development; Housing Division; Licenses and Inspections; Planning & Zoning; and Small Business & Community Development.

Its responsibilities include reviewing site plans, issuing permits and inspecting projects and existing buildings; issuing building licenses; assisting with small business development; responding to code violation complaints; and managing city-owned properties, among other roles.

In an exclusive interview with Hartford Business Journal on Friday, Auker said he decided to leave the private sector for public service because he believes “there is something more purposeful that I should be doing.”

“The people that I’ve admired most in my life, they all have a major public service element to who they are and what they do,” he said.

Auker has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University in Rhode Island, but said his experience building a workforce division at Infosys that included working closely with city officials, along with his work with ReadyCT and the Workforce Council, have combined to give him valuable insights that will help in his new role.

“Most importantly, it got me really deep into the role that businesses play in the community, the benefit that they bring,” he said. “So I've done it here in Hartford. That’s really the headline there. And when this opportunity came up with the new mayor, it seemed obvious to me.”

Auker said he was also attracted to the passion he sees in the mayor’s administration, and his belief in the city’s untapped potential.

“Helping people working on something that would unlock the potential of the city and the passion of the people serving it … that’s the piece that excites me,” he said. “It’s going to be hard, but the challenges will make that effort worthwhile.”

Areas of focus

Auker said he has discussed with Arulampalam the areas of focus for his new role, which will include supporting economic development to increase the grand list by making Hartford “the easiest city in the state to do business with.”

That effort has already included the mayor appointing Don Chapman as director of the newly created Office of the Business One-Stop, intended to help small businesses navigate city bureaucracy and thrive.

Auker also said that while the insurance and financial services sectors are the “heart and soul of the city,” he believes Hartford has an opportunity to attract advanced manufacturing companies, including “things like the quantum corridor.” 

“What is our role in that?” he asked, noting that Yale University and the University of Connecticut are collaborating with the state on QuantumCT, which seeks to accelerate the adoption of quantum technologies in the state.

“We have UConn right downtown now,” Auker noted, referring to the UConn Hartford branch located in the former Hartford Times Building.

While he does not live in Hartford, Auker said he plans to address that as soon as possible. He and his wife, Elisa, live in Coventry. They share five children — all college-age or older.

He takes over as director of Development Services at a time when the department is seeking to fill the role of planning and zoning director. The former director, Erin Howard, resigned in April to accept a position with Grow America, a national nonprofit development organization. 

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