Tribute To Lisa Chedekel, An Extraordinary Journalist

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Lisa Chedekel was a treasure who found me. We launched the Conn. Health I-Team in 2010 after working together for over 30 years, first at the New Haven Register and later at the Hartford Courant.

Today she leaves a rich and powerful legacy that touched so many of us in Connecticut. That legacy includes all the aspects of what a journalist is. Her facts—often unearthed by relentless determination—were always spot on.

To Lisa, the writing was as important as the facts: She would not rest until her words were not only coherent, but also lyrical.

Beyond all of that, there was her unending curiosity.

When she got in her mind to write a story about military suicides—long before much larger news organizations did – she persuaded the Hartford Courant to send her all over the country with fellow reporter Matthew Kauffman to develop the first military suicide database.

At C-HIT, Lisa’s in-depth reporting of systemic problems in the health care industry has been a force of change. She saw our journalism as a way to illuminate the plight of people who struggled to get access to health care. Her work put our tiny nonprofit website—C-HIT—on the map in Connecticut.

Over her 30-years-plus journalism career, Lisa was honored with numerous awards. She was a member of the Hartford Courant’s reporting team that won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. She also won the 2006 George Polk Award for military reporting, the 2007 Worth Bingham Prize for investigative reporting, and the 2007 Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting, among others.

At C-HIT she received a 2017 Publick Occurrences award for her reporting on the story “Desperate Choices: Trading Custody for Care,” two special citations from the Association of Health Care Journalists for her work on the state’s practices of disciplining doctors and fees paid to high-prescribing doctors, and six awards from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for her investigative work. Lisa and I were honored by the CT Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016 for C-HIT’s coverage of women’s health.

The awards are a reflection of her work, her incredible talent, and her undiminished desire to uncover truths.

She was kind, generous with her time and listened to my every whim.

She relished coaching at our summer high school journalism camps and later became a mentor to many of our ‘camp graduates.’

To her family, whom she adored—her wife, Isabel, and twins, Bernard and Evelyn, aunts and cousins—I extend my heartfelt sympathies.

My heart and the hearts of so many colleagues and friends are broken over this loss.

Knowing and working with Lisa made me a better journalist—and a better person.

I’m lucky she found me.