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Caren S. Franzini Fellowship

Recognizing outstanding women in development finance for their leadership and dedication to the advancement of the industry.

Application Instructions

The application window for the 2022 Franzini Fellowship is now closed.

About the Caren S. Frazini Fellowship

The Caren S. Franzini Fellowship was established in 2017 by the CDFA Board of Directors to recognize the exemplary leadership of Caren Franzini, a past President of CDFA and former CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). During her career, Caren was dedicated to the advancement of development finance best practices, education, and advocacy.

Recognized by her peers and colleagues as “simply the best,” Caren brought a high level of mastery and acumen to her work. Her commitment to the development finance industry is evident in the numerous programs created and the billions of dollars of investment that she catalyzed during her tenure at NJEDA. She was equally passionate about building leaders and experts in the field as she was about financing businesses and expanding economic growth and job creation for New Jersey communities.

The Caren S. Franzini Fellowship was created to build leadership positions for women in the field of development finance and to inspire them to embody Caren’s spirit and professionalism. Franzini Fellows are given the opportunity to work directly with CDFA through a one-year program aimed at developing lasting woman leaders in the field of development finance. Each class of Franzini Fellows will collaborate on a project of significance to the development finance industry and present it to a national audience. Franzini Fellows may build a new type of financing program, research creative deal structures, write a publication of best practices, or demonstrate new methodologies in the development finance industry. Collectively, their work will showcase expertise in development finance and the power of woman-led initiatives.

Franzini Fellows will meet in-person two times this year. During these engagements, Franzini Fellows will meet with other successful women in the development finance industry, receive training and inspiration from leaders in the field, and create a roadmap for building a successful career in development finance. In between in-person meetings, Franzini Fellows will be connected through an online platform that allows them to collaborate on their project and share best practices for building leadership traits.

The Caren S. Franzini Fellowship is open to women who have worked in the development finance field for less than 10 years. Franzini Fellows accepted into the program must be employed by a CDFA member and be sponsored by their employer for the duration of the fellowship.

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Past Franzini Fellows

Congratulations to the following ladies for completing the Franzini Fellowship. These women are examples of exemplary leaders and dedication to the field of development finance. We are very proud of their passion and professionalism to the fellowship.

Graduate Class of 2021:
Michelle Barnett, Senior Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development, Racer Trust
Ashley Jones, Community Program Manager, Microsoft
Elizabeth Limbrick, Director, New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA)
Sima Thakkar, Senior Investment Associate, Raza Development Fund, Inc.

Graduate Class of 2020:
Angela Bolden, Program Officer, Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)
Alessandra Desiderio, Development Officer, Colorado Lending Source
Tiffany McClelland, Economic Development Director, Lorain Port Authority
Megan Sullivan, Executive Director, Vermont Economic Progress Council, State of Vermont

Graduate Class of 2019:
Donna Culpepper, Executive Director, Nocona EDC Corporations
Johanna Nelson, Strategic Program Manager, New Mexico Economic Development Department
Julia Schneider, Vice President, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Barbara Waters, Associate Director of Marketing, Connecticut Green Bank

Leadership Committee

The Caren S. Franzini Fellowship is championed by a dedicated Leadership Committee comprised of the following individuals:

Paula Crowley, Anchor Health Properties
Anna Franzini, Empire State Development Corporation
Lori Matheus, New Jersey Economic Development Authority
Linda Matkowski, Stern Brothers & Co.
Toby Rittner, Council of Development Finance Agencies
Gurbax Sahota, California Academy for Economic Development
John Saris, Business Oregon
Frances Walton, Plum Alley Investment Co.

Caren's Legacy

Caren Franzini Ms. Franzini headed the New Jersey Economic Development Authority from January 1994 to October 2012, working with seven consecutive New Jersey governors. The NJEDA provides financing to small and mid-sized businesses, administering tax incentives to retain and grow jobs, revitalizing communities through redevelopment initiatives, and supporting entrepreneurial development. She joined the NJEDA in March 1991 as Deputy Director. After her tenure at the NJEDA, Ms. Franzini became President of Franzini Consulting, working with businesses and economic development agencies.

Ms. Franzini was widely recognized for her contributions to business growth and economic development in the state. She was awarded the CDFA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. She is a past recipient of the New Jersey Chapter of NAIOP’s Industry Service Award, the New Jersey Technology Council’s John H. Martinson Technology Supporter Award, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s Paul L. Troast Award for her commitment to improving the state’s economy, and the Wharton Club of New York’s Joseph Wharton Award for Social Impact. She has also been honored with the Pinnacle Business Advocate Award from the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, the EDANJ’s Franklin-Maddocks Award for Excellence in Economic Development, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Southern New Jersey Development Council, and Plan Smart NJ’s Outstanding Leadership & Economic Development Achievement Awards. She was inducted into the New Jersey High Tech Hall of Fame in 2006 for her many contributions to the State’s technology industry.

During her distinguished career, Ms. Franzini served as Chair of the State’s Urban Enterprise Zone Authority, Vice Chair of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority and President of the Corporation for Business Assistance in New Jersey. She was also a member of the Board of Directors and the past President of the national Council of Development Finance Agencies, and sat on numerous boards: the New Jersey Technology Council, the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), the New Jersey Alliance for Action, Inc., the Southern New Jersey Development Council, and the Aviation Research Technology Park. She was an ex officio Board member of the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission, and a Member of the State Planning Commission. Most recently, she served on the Boards of NJM Insurance, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Greater Trenton, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, NJ Future, and the New Jersey Community Development Corporation.

Prior to joining the EDA, Ms. Franzini was an Assistant State Treasurer with the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. Before that, she was employed in the Finance Division of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and with Public Financial Management. Ms. Franzini died in January 2017 at the age of 57.

Getting Engaged

California Academy for Economic Development CDFA is honored to partner with the California Academy for Economic Development to make the Caren S. Franzini Fellowship possible. Through our partnership, all gifts made to the Fellowship will be fully tax deductible. CDFA welcomes contributions of all sizes from both individuals and organizations to the Franzini Fellowship. For those who are able, a 3-year commitment to the Franzini Fellowship will help ensure that the program can make a lasting difference in building women leaders in the development finance industry.

Make a Gift

For questions about the Franzini Fellowship or making a gift, contact CDFA to get engaged.

CDFA National Sponsors

  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Frost Brown Todd LLC
  • gener8tor
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • Raza Development Fund
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
Become a Sponsor