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Updated: October 18, 2020 In Memoriam/Lifetime Achievement 2020

Oz Griebel embodied HBJ’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo | HBJ File

Oz Griebel left the MetroHartford Alliance at the end of 2017, but his presence and influence in the region endured. 

Since leaving the organization he helped mold for nearly two decades, Griebel lived downtown and wanted to remain part of the action, taking on side projects and advising anyone seeking out his counsel. It wasn’t surprising given his longtime commitment to the city, where he started out as a bank executive before eventually leading the Alliance. 

Griebel’s sudden and senseless death in July after being struck by a motor vehicle while jogging in Pennsylvania, has left a major void in the city and state.

As part of this special section we are honoring Griebel as one of our 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award winners. 

He in many ways embodied who should receive this honor. Not only was he a business icon in Hartford but an engaged civic leader.

The New Jersey native who graduated from Dartmouth College and Suffolk University Law School started his career as a teacher before transitioning into the business world, eventually leading BankBoston’s Connecticut operations before taking over the MetroHartford Alliance in 2001, where he became the city’s top promoter.

What many appreciated most about Griebel was that he wasn’t just a Hartford booster. He never shied away from pointing out the city’s, region’s or state’s weaknesses and problems.

More importantly he offered solutions and policy ideas to fix them.

Blind boosterism does a city like Hartford no good. While we all need to promote the region’s strengths, we can’t shy away from honest conversations about its problems and ways to address them.

That’s how we get better.

Griebel understood that. It’s what prompted him to run for governor twice, once as a Republican in 2010 and an independent in 2018. He didn’t come close to winning either time, but he was certainly the most qualified and informed candidate in the most recent election.

Few who knew him well would argue differently. A centrist candidate who is a fiscal conservative and moderate on social issues is the type of leader this state needed and needs.

Those political views are also what led to his work as chair of the SAM CT Task Force, a group trying to reform the state’s electoral process to give unaffiliated and more moderate candidates in Connecticut a better chance of winning elections.

It’s noble work that probably won’t move the needle in upending a two-party political system that has increasingly been shown to be broken.

But long odds never deterred Griebel. In fact, he was rarely on the winning end of public policy or political battles, but he kept fighting for what he believed in.

His love for the city was also evident. He didn’t view Hartford as a stepping stone, but a landing spot from which to build something better.

Hartford could use more leaders like Griebel.

Greg Bordonaro, Editor, Hartford Business Journal

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