Citizen of the Year award ‘reflects a lifetime of good work’
WATERFORD – Louis Ziegler likes being behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.
But the 53-year-old’s compassion for others and fierce work ethic put him center stage Tuesday morning when he was named the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut’s Citizen of the Year.
“My first reaction was ‘wow,’” Ziegler said shortly after the announcement was made in Waterford. “I’m humbled. It’s part of my life to help others. I want to thank the Mohegan Tribe, who allows me the opportunity and is a huge supporter of the local community. I thank everyone for this honor.”
Chamber officials said Ziegler’s nomination “reflects a lifetime of good work.”
Ziegler, who has worked for the Mohegan Tribal Housing Authority since 1996, is the board chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut Foundation, which provides child-focused nonprofits in the region with resources that improve overall quality of life. The foundation raises money throughout the year for various events and causes, including The Bulletin’s Tommy Toy Fund.
Ziegler joined the foundation board in 2007 and became its chairman in 2010. Under his leadership, the foundation has raised more than $831,000 for local nonprofits.
“Lou Ziegler is a talented, generous individual,” said Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. “Many in our region are fortunate to have been impacted by the work he has done raising funds and securing housing for those in need.”
In his role with the Mohegan Tribal Housing Authority, Ziegler established the authority’s policies, procedures and numerous housing-related programs that promote safe and affordable living accommodations for its membership. He was also instrumental in establishing lending programs that provided first-time homebuyers with new opportunities to secure homeownership.
“It’s a tough job to decide this award,” Sheridan said. “But this year it was a no-brainer. He’s done incredible work. He reflects the best qualities of a Citizen of the Year candidate: someone who takes firm, commendable action that improves the lives of others.”
Ziegler, who lives in Oakdale, serves on Montville’s Commission on Aging and is a coach and board member for the Montville Little League. He is a member of the Board for Eastern Connecticut Housing Opportunities and former employee of The Bulletin.
“Looking at the list of past recipients and all they have accomplished for Eastern Connecticut, it is an honor to be part of this group,” Ziegler said. “I would not be where I am today without the constant support of other volunteers, staff, and of course, my family.”
The Citizen of the Year award is presented annually to an individual who has made “outstanding strides on behalf of the civic and business community,” according to the chamber. Past Citizens of the Year include Mary Lenzini of the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut, Neil Scott and Scott Gladstone of Wireless Zone, Mitchell Etess of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and Alice Fitzpatrick of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.
Ziegler will be honored at a dinner celebration from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 23 at Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton.