Margaret Brennan-Tonetta

Executive Director, Economic Development and Innovation
Associate Director, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Rutgers University Food Innovation Center

Margaret is Administrator-in-Charge of the Food Innovation Center, Executive Director for Economic Development at Rutgers University and Associate Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. As a founder of the center, she developed the concept, initial programming, and strategic direction for the Food Innovation Center based on her work in examining the status and condition of the New Jersey Food Industry in the late 1990’s. Margaret established the center’s first office in Bridgeton and played a significant role in securing funding for construction and operations of the center facility. She continues to provide oversight and guidance for this internationally recognized business incubation program. Margaret is also a founder of FoodBIN, a global association for advancing best practices in food business incubation, and identifying programs, services, funding sources, and partnerships that can maximize impacts to food and agribusinesses within regional economies.

Margaret has a distinguished record of developing and leading economic development initiatives at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers University, and the state. In addition to the Food Innovation Center, other projects include the Rutgers EcoComplex, a clean energy and sustainable agriculture research, outreach and business incubation center; the Office of Research Analytics which provides advanced statistical, spatial, economic, and technological tools to projects and programs throughout the NJAES and broader University; the Innovation Park@Rutgers, a proposed 30 acre development at Rutgers-New Brunswick campus designed to support and catalyze industry engagement; the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute, a center for advanced computation that enables access to state-of-the-art computing technology and expertise for researchers, industry and government. The center is also home to the most powerful supercomputer in the region. She also leads Rutgers’ impact metrics data collection effort as part of the Big 10 consortium metrics program. At the state level, Margaret led the creation of the New Jersey Big Data Alliance, an unprecedented partnership of New Jersey’s higher education institutions focused on identifying areas of synergy and collaboration in advance computation, sharing advanced computing technologies, and developing joint programs that will increase research and industry competitiveness, improve education, and drive economic development within New Jersey. Margaret is also responsible for building collaborations among economic development units across Rutgers campuses and facilitating university-government-industry engagement and support. She serves on numerous university and state association boards. Margaret is an economist with expertise in economic development strategies, impact assessment and bioenergy economics and policy. She received a B.S. in Economics, M.S. in Agricultural Economics and a Ph.D. in Public Policy all from Rutgers.