STAMFORD — Stamford Innovation Week founder Jonathan Winkel was named Tuesday the executive director of the Stamford Partnership, a nonprofit focused on improving the city’s business climate and involved in many technology-focused initiatives.
Winkel succeeds Jackie Lightfield, who served about six years as the Partnership’s head. Alongside his leadership of Innovation Week, he has worked as managing partner of Stamford-based digital marketing agency SquareWheel Group. He also serves as chairman of Stamford’s Economic Development and Urban Redevelopment commissions and is a board member of the Stamford Public Education Foundation.
“I love the role that the Partnership plays in the city and in the mix of organizations that do innovation, technology and civic projects,” Winkel said. “My career has been moving more in the direction of economic and community development. When you combine those things, it ends up being a perfect match.”
With Stamford Innovation Week, Winkel has focused on raising awareness of Stamford as an emerging hub for entrepreneurship and innovation.
The second annual Innovation Week held last month attracted nearly 4,900 people for its eight-day series of events across the city, up 63 percent from the turnout for the inaugural Innovation Week held in 2018.
“He brings with him strong organizational capabilities, excellent community relations skills, and a brilliant track record of building sponsorship and support,” Dan Stolzenbach, the Stamford Partnership’s chairman and general manager of the Stamford Town Center mall, said in a statement. “We’re excited to see how Jon will enhance the legacy of the Stamford Partnership, while leading extremely important initiatives that will add value to the community.”
Winkel, who will start in a position that is now half-time but could become full-time, plans to launch a “listening tour” around the city to solicit feedback from businesses, nonprofits, residents and other community members.
Among its goals, the Partnership would continue to support the development of the city’s high-speed public internet service and preparation for autonomous vehicles — as it did under Lightfield’s leadership.
“I’m hoping to help tell the stories of businesses and nonprofits in Stamford in a louder and more cohesive way,” Winkel said.
Winkel “is an excellent choice” to lead the Partnership, Lightfield told Hearst Connecticut Media.
She took over the Partnership in 2013, as an entrepreneur and as a former chairwoman of Norwalk’s zoning board.
She immediately got the Partnership involved in the city’s master plan process and would go on to play important roles in a number of initiatives aimed at fostering the city’s transit-oriented development, making it more pedestrian-friendly and improving its digital infrastructure.Read Full Article
She also helped the city to land funding to bolster its growing entrepreneurship scene.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to have brought ‘smart city’ projects to Stamford during my time with the Partnership,” Lightfield said.
Lightfield’s current roles include “chief problem solver” at Norwalk 2.0, a nonprofit civic organization that she launched in 2010. In addition, she serves as co-chairwoman of the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force.
A 40-year-old organization, the Partnership’s work in earlier years included supporting the relocation of the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus from North Stamford to the downtown.
“The work that I’m going to endeavor right now is built on really good foundations laid by Jackie, board members and supporters,” Winkel said. “The organization has incredible stakeholders.”
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