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Ode to a "M"entor

On August 11, 2016, while spending time with a couple of our Officers, I received two texts at 11:37 PM:

“I just saw Matt just passed away”
“He died tonight…”

I could not believe what I was reading. On the ride back to City Hall, my phone rang, confirming the unbelievable. As the night turned to morning, I busied myself with the necessary tasks: phone calls were made, emails sent, and all too soon, I was back at City Hall for our weekly staff meeting. It was impossible not to fixate on the empty chair…the void left behind.

No boss ever wants to lose an employee, and Matt was much more than an employee to me. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. He was a giant in this community, inspiring and endearing staff members, community partners, and residents. With confidence, I can say that the City of Brighton is a better place because of the 11 years he invested; not just time, but heart.


Following Matt’s passing, local artists paid their respects with a chalk portrait in Hyne Ally. Adjacent, a question: “Who was Matt?” To this City Manager, the answer is simple…a mentor with a capital “M.”

In 2007, I began working for the City as an intern. I needed an internship to meet one of the requirements for my degree. I reached out to the City because I had lived here. I had no idea that ultimately I was to meet and work for an individual whose personal investment would shape my entire career. Matt became one of my most important mentors.

I had hoped that he would see the impacts of his investment in me when I returned to Brighton as City Manager. I feel like he and I both were robbed; our time working together was short and interrupted.

There were many conversations I had wanted to have with Matt, but mostly, I wanted to thank him.  I never got that chance, so I am going to do it now.

Thank you for seeing potential in people.
Thank you for being a visionary, a risk taker, a thinker…
Thank you for providing room to make mistakes and time for facilitated reflection…
Thank you for stories, lessons, and observations…
Thank you for putting me “out there…”
Thank you for helping me to feel comfortable in challenging situations…
Thank you for coaching lunches and Matzo Ball Soup (I would have never thought to try it on my own).
Thank you for guiding my discovery of passion for community, public service, for downtowns…

Matt, most of all, thank you for being my mentor—“A wise and trusted counselor. A teacher!”

I would sure appreciate you checking in from time-to-time for a little guidance and inspiration. Know that you are missed and your contributions are appreciated.
“Who was Matt?” A colleague, a friend, a “M”entor…a man who will be remembered for loving this community and commemorated in the actions of those he inspired. 

Posted: by Nate Geinzer

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