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City Names First City Commissioner Of Economic Development And Innovation

Thursday February 17th, 2022, 6:26pm


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The City of Windsor has named the corporation’s first Commissioner of Economic Development and Innovation, overseeing the Economic Development, Land Use Planning, Information Technology and Building Services departments.

Jelena Payne will take up the role effective April 4th, 2022.

“After a thorough national search over several months, we are confident that Ms. Payne has the right experience, proven track record of delivering results, and unique collaborative leadership style needed for this new role,” said CAO Reynar. “We are very excited to capitalize on Ms. Payne’s skills and experience in both the private and public sectors, specifically her business development experience, to lead this challenging portfolio for us.”

Payne held senior positions while living in the United States with some of the largest names in the food and beverage industry. She held a senior management position with PepsiCo/AmeriServe and YUM! Brands, the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut., ultimately becoming responsible for leading the purchasing department supplying over 20,000 restaurants across North America and leading new product development as a Project Manager.

Upon her return to Ontario, she joined the Ontario Public Service (OPS), initially as a Senior Policy Advisor. While with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, she led the department responsible for public education and partnerships in the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). At the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in Guelph, she led a team of Economic Development specialists responsible for rural Ontario, oversaw the Agriculture Information Contact Centre, and was part of the Foodland Ontario Marketing Team.

Payne joined the City of Windsor in 2012 in the role of Community Development and Health Services Commissioner – Corporate Leader – Social Development, Health, Recreation & Culture. This diverse portfolio includes Employment Ontario and Social Services; Housing, Homelessness and Children’s Services; Huron Lodge Long Term Care Home; Social Policy and Planning and Health. From 2012 to 2017, the portfolio also included Recreation and Culture.

“It was an extremely difficult choice to leave my team and the network of dedicated community agencies supporting Human and Health Services. They are some of the most caring and compassionate people you will ever know, working tirelessly to support residents to reach their full potential throughout all stages of life. I’m particularly proud of the team’s management of challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and their support for the community.” Payne further states, “However, this new position provides an exciting opportunity to engage with the business and development community to help the city grow to its full potential through the Windsor Works strategy. I’m eager to begin in this new role”.

The current Executive Director of Housing and Children’s Services, Debbie Cercone, will assume the role of interim Commissioner of Human and Health Services, pending a recruitment for the position on a permanent basis.

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