Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam announced that Esther Lee, vice chairman of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) Commission, will join his administration as Secretary of Commerce and Trade.
Lee, appointed to the FCEDA Board by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in July 2016, will succeed Todd Haymore, who has served under Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“The New Virginia Economy is thriving, but it will take vision to ensure that it’s working well for everyone,” said Northam, who made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at the Inova Center for Personalized Health in the Merrifield area of Fairfax County.
Lee is expected to become part of the first majority-female cabinet in state history. Eight of Northam’s 15 nominations, pending approval by the legislature, are women.
“The FCEDA’s loss will be a tremendous gain for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
“Ms. Lee served as the vice chairman of the FCEDA Commission until her recent appointment. In a short period of time, she was able to translate her professional experience to strategic decisions, most notably in areas related to communication strategy and support for entrepreneurialism,” Gordon said.
In his press release, Northam added, “I’m confident the team I’m announcing today brings the right balance of private and public sector experience to grow and diversify our economy, attract and keep the best businesses here, and to make investments in critical areas like workforce development that will ensure Virginia’s economic growth for the long term.”
A strategic business leader with senior management experience in Fortune 500 companies and government, Lee, 43, served as global chief marketing and new business officer for Burson-Marsteller, where she launched the first-ever Global Corporate Reputation Index.
In 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, where she created and led the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Lee, who earned her B.A. in economics at Harvard University and her MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, has also worked as a business and technology journalist for CNN and held senior executive positions at Time Warner and Siemens. She is a co-founder of the Council of Korean Americans.
Time magazine called Fairfax County “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” Business growth and innovation helps Fairfax County fund the nation’s top-rated school system and other public services that contribute to the quality of life of residents. Fairfax County offers businesses a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure, access to global markets through Washington Dulles International Airport, a vibrant investment capital community and a highly skilled, well-educated workforce.
The award-winning Fairfax County Economic Development Authority promotes Fairfax County as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, and connections with county and state government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County. In addition to its headquarters in Tysons Corner, Fairfax County’s largest business district, the FCEDA maintains marketing offices in six important global business centers: Bangalore, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv. Follow the FCEDA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.