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Gretta was many things to different people: she was a mother to her children, a partner, a friend, a manager, a political analyst and much more.

She was one of the most outspoken anti-corruption fighters in the world. As such she was determined and brave; she dared to criticise also countries sponsoring her work.

For the Basel Institute she was the best possible manager we could have: She combined quick understanding, clear oversight, and an amazing ability to translate complex legal and other issues for politicians, donors, journalists and the wider public.

For staff she was the best possible leader. Gretta was professional but at the same time she was ready to show her warm-hearted character, including her weaknesses – a charming and compelling combination rarely encountered.

She built the Basel Institute from the early days and made it to what it is now. She was the representative of the Institute. The best we can do to keep her memory alive is to continue in her spirit.

After disbelief, shock and profound sorrow, come memories of an accomplished personality: from those moments of leading collective advances in anti-corruption, to a brief piece of advice to colleagues in the corridor; from chairing a panel with respect and objectivity, to the barbs she could throw at obvious nonsense; from the spontaneous laugh at funny and absurd situations, to the deep-dive discussions on serious challenges; from recognizing complexities of issues and contexts, to her drive to decide and move forward big and small – all and many more precious moments of generosity and humanity.

Personally, I will never forget the energy of our efforts to move the organization forward – the morning coffees in Bern, the spontaneous moments checking-in at our respective places to discuss an urgent matter; the text messages and ideas around the clock and through the time zones, the silent understandings during some of the meetings we took together, and of course, those rare private moments with our partners, when we would discuss relationships, doubts, travels, bike tours, books, places and more.

The most precious memory comes from her boundless optimism and her drive to move forward in and with life – not to paste over hesitations, complexities, despair or sorrow, but knowing that without, too much space would be left to cynicism.

Gretta: Wonderful, magnificent, sparkling, shining, beautiful, thrilling, inspiring, elegant, sporty, creative, visionary, humanist, principled, serious, funny, hands-on, hard-working, partying, curious, caring, loving, ambitious, easy-going, brilliant, collegial, emancipated, adventurous, courageous, loyal, reliable, well-organised, absolutely trustworthy, perseverant, professional, generous, graceful, exquisite,

cycling in New York, swimming in the Rhine, reaching to the stars,

the one and only Gretta will always be with us.

We are still shocked and very sad to have lost Gretta. I only worked with Gretta for two and a half years as part of my work on the Foundation Board of the Basel Institute on Governance and even in this short time I realized what a wonderful person Gretta was!

When working with her I appreciated her openness to new ideas and new projects, her inquisitive mind when asking and inquiring about these new projects and her consistency when implementing these ideas. Full of energy, ideas, commitment, motivation and care for her friends, colleagues and their concerns, she stood up for everyone, she was very social, thoughtful and always selfless.

She never complained, was never in a bad mood and always had a light-hearted remark or joke on her lips to lighten the mood. The concerns of her employees and friends were important to her, she responded to them, listened to them and I wondered how you can have such a wonderful charisma with so much work and responsibility.

My heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and colleagues who will miss her presence very much.

Gretta has left us far too early. We shall miss her drive, her enthusiasm, her engagement and professionalism but above all her outstanding personality and kindness for which we liked her so much and why her passing away is such a great loss to all of us. My thought are with her children and her family.

Gretta's dedication to making the world a little bit fairer was an inspiration. I greatly enjoyed working with her as a board member of the Basel Institute.

She never lost sight of what truly matters. We will do our best to carry forward her vision.


There are plenty of people that will live much longer but will have achieved much less!

"When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
For your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone"

Gerry and the Pacemakers

In my whole life, being it in a leading position of the logistic industry or as president of an international Music Academy, I never came across a person with such an impressively high professional and social competence and incredible language skills as Gretta constantly proved and exercised to the benefit of all her solution seeking community. And we all know she offered these capabilities for a greater purpose.

Despite the incredible sadness of her sudden death I am glad to have conveyed my deep admiration for her unique personality various times during our long years of cooperation. She always responded to my compliments with a modest but unforgettable smile.

It was such a pleasure to work with Gretta. I will remember her tolerance towards so many people with different disciplinary, cultural, and social backgrounds around the world.

We anthropologists usually know one other society very well, perhaps two – but Gretta had a much wider perspective. She recognised others as people with their own histories and understandings of the world. That was an important part of her success. We'll miss her.

It was during a train journey from Paris to Basel in 2012, that Gretta spoke to me about her plans for expanding the corporate compliance and Collective Action work at the Institute. We discussed her ideas for nearly the whole three hours of the journey, at the end of which I said I’d love to work with her, and wanted to (re)-join the Institute as soon as possible.

Gretta’s energy, optimism and enthusiasm as well as her generous trust made it an exciting opportunity that I couldn’t miss. It was simply the best decision of my working life.

Over the years, traveling with Gretta was always a great combination of work and fun. Quite often it also provided a chance to talk about other things; above all our boys – what they were up to, and all the joys and challenges new stages in their lives would mean. Her down-to-earth, caring and compassionate nature always shone through, and made her easy to talk to.

This didn’t mean we always agreed about everything work related, but because we spoke openly and were similarly motivated by what we thought was best for the Institute, we always found common ground, appreciated each other’s perspectives, and got on with our common goal of addressing bribery.

Gretta gave me the space and freedom to develop and deliver the compliance and Collective Action areas of the Institute’s work, and was always interested to hear about new opportunities and projects and to provide sound advice when it was needed.

I will miss Gretta, and remember her always with great affection and respect.

Having known and worked with Gretta at the Basel Institute since 2011, her clear commitment to and passion for anti-corruption efforts were beyond question. She was both visionary and supportive and I always appreciated her desire to lead with conviction.

I recall with great affection her passion for Bhutan in particular as she introduced me to the country in 2014 and accompanied us on our training scoping mission. This was the only trip where Gretta was able to be present to make the necessary introductions, especially to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bhutan, and show us around. This led to inspiring and rewarding repeat training and a special relationship with the Anti-Corruption Commission. She also loved learning to do origami whilst on the scoping mission in Thimphu, courtesy of SDC and clearly excelled!

Gretta was so enthusiastic about making real connections in the process of taking the fight against corruption to new heights. At the same time, she never lost sight of the individual in busy and unrelenting efforts to produce results. My heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones, and all those working for and associated with the Basel Institute – she will be sorely missed.

Gretta was a leader in the best possible way. She led by inspiring and she led by example. She always listened, empathized and connected at a human level. But she also rose above to lay out a vision, instilling shared values and aspirations among her team.

She was not a boss, but a partner, an ally and a friend. Words cannot describe how much she will be missed.

Gretta will be deeply missed in all ways that matter. She had an uncanny ability to focus on those and discard irrelevant and petty distractions, powered by her incomparable intellect and an ability to deploy it in an – at times slightly frightening – laser focus. It was a thing of beauty to behold. Even in isolation, these "moments of truth" were impressive. Seen on a daily, even continuous, basis, they were nothing short of awe-inspiring.

If there was anything in this world that was a match for the dark and seemingly unbeatable forces of corruption, it was Gretta's boundless yet utterly realist optimism. We can only hope we've learned enough from her to carry this fight forward...

Gretta was an incredible leader, mentor and role model. She was an anti-corruption champion but also a strong supporter of gender and diversity topics. No topic was too complex for her to tackle and she always stuck to her moral compass, not shying away from difficult conversations.

Despite her extremely busy schedule she was generous with her time and had the unique ability to inspire everyone that crossed her path. A very special person, gone way too soon.

Liebe Gretta, ich bin noch immer unfassbar traurig und ich kann es kaum verstehen, dass Du von uns gegangen bist. Über viele Jahre hatte ich das einzigartige Erlebnis mit Dir arbeiten zu dürfen. Deine Art das Institute mit Lebel zu füllen, gleichzeitig professionell und Mensch zu bleiben, dein unglaubliches Verständnis auch für Dinge, die fernab Deiner täglichen Arbeit lagen, wie sehr Du Deine Werte gelebt hast – all das war immer eine große Inspiration für mich.

Ich werde mich auch in Zukunft immer fragen, was hätte Gretta wohl dazu gesagt. Vielen Dank für die Zeit, die ich mit Dir verbringen durfte.

I met Gretta in Kampala in 2015 and knew instantly that I wanted to work for ICAR. Like many others, I was captivated by her mix of charm, razor-sharp intellect, and boundless creativity to make change happen. Working for her over the last five years has been the greatest privilege of my professional life. The closer I got to her, the more I marvelled at her elegant way of compelling others to do what needed to be done; the way she wore her wisdom so lightly; her ability to, off-the-cuff, find the right framing and strike the right chord irrespective of the audience.

Above all, Gretta led and spoke from the heart. And it was this genuine passion that generated the unbreakable bond that so many anti-corruption champions from all over the world have with her. Gretta’s tireless dedication and generosity also created a protective shield under which all of us at the Institute have thrived. She was always there for me through thick and thin. I will forever miss her wise counsel, extraordinary mentorship, and the silly banter on endless flights or at the end of a long day.

Our common penchant for digressions often led us to wonderful conversations on life, parenting or taking care of the people we love the most. It’s our friendship and these small moments that I will cherish the most. I will be one of countless others resolved to keep up her fight. She would have liked me to say it in Basque: Eskerrik asko hainbestegaitik, Gretta. Goian bego eta, bereziki, gugan bego.

It has taken me days to find the strength to write this. The disbelief of your sudden and tragic passing sits very deep. Sometimes it still feels you are away on just another important duty trip and that you will be back in the office again next week, and then I quickly realise that this is not the case. The pain, the sorrow is immense, and I cannot express how sorely I miss you already, dear Gretta.

Working with you so closely and intensively for the past 15+ years has been such a huge privilege and honour. It has been a professional ride of a lifetime working with you to build this organisation, the Basel Institute on Governance, you being the all-important and passionate face and “front” of the Institute and me being the grounding “back” to support you in your compelling professional drive and galvanising leadership.

You taught me so much, we learned together, we had our differences in opinion which we knew were healthy and necessary to keep each other in check in our respective roles and responsibilities. We pulled and pushed in the same direction, always. You inspired me as a professional and as a private person.

You had an extraordinary gift to energise, motivate, care and live life to the fullest, with dedication, passion, justice and so much love. You leave behind an incredible legacy one which I / we will ensure to keep alive and honour always – together with all our friends and partners around the globe, near and far.

I have lost a true friend and leader. You touched me and so many of us, every day and all the time, and made each one of us feel special. Thank you, Gretta. May you rest in peace.

Quand j'ai rencontré Gretta pour la première fois en 2008 lors du séminaire Lausanne IV, je ne savais pas qu'elle aurait un tel impact sur ma vie, ma carrière et sur celle de tant d'autres personnes. Je ne la connaissais pas, mais j'ai été marqué par son dynamisme, son pragmatisme et son indéniable charisme.

Ce n'est qu'en rejoignant le Basel Institute en 2015 que j'ai réalisé la chance et le privilège de travailler sous la direction d'une personne véritablement hors du commun. Son intelligence aiguë, sa vision audacieuse et son courage sans faille ont été pour moi une source d'inspiration constante.

Gretta ne souhaitait pas seulement un monde meilleur, elle s'est investie corps et âme dans la lutte contre la corruption en proposant des solutions innovantes et réfléchies. Sa compassion sincère, son humanité et son véritable souci des autres, que ce soit de ses proches, de ses collègues ou des victimes de la corruption ont fait d'elle une femme exceptionnelle, universellement reconnue.

Gretta, ton leadership éclairé, ton amitié chaleureuse, ton humour pétillant et ta sagesse incomparable me manqueront terriblement. Tu laisses un grand vide dans ma vie et dans celle de tant d'autres personnes qui se sentaient spéciales grâce a toi. Mais plus que jamais, tu a insufflé à chacun d'entre nous le désir ardent de poursuivre ton travail dans l'esprit et la détermination qui t'animaient chaque jour. Ton héritage perdurera. Repose désormais en paix.

Gretta was the quintessential purpose-driven leader, to the benefit of the global anti-corruption movement and those who worked with her. Gretta could identify what the Institute needed to grow, and could see not just the abilities, but also the potential, of those around her. Beyond her warmth that touched many, she made tough decisions, knowing she couldn’t please everyone. But she exercised resolve with fairness and humanity.

We were both mothers of two boys, lived in Bern, and had soft spots for New York. Gretta knew how deep bias against working moms runs in Swiss society. She was empathetic how insidious this can be, but encouraged never to waiver on personal decisions as a result.

I’ll never forget when Gretta needed to be in Bern on a certain day and secure a car to bring her birds (in a large cage) to her son’s show-and-tell day at school. She set the standard: family can absolutely be top priority alongside work. And no logistics operation is impossible.

We had mutual respect for commuter time as private time. This made it all the more meaningful that the last time I saw her in April 2023, on a chance platform encounter, we seized the opportunity for a personable, reflective, and intellectual catch-up all the way to Basel.

I am grateful for this memory, and for all of Gretta’s inspiration. My deepest condolences to Gretta’s family.

The world feels dimmer without Gretta. Many feelings, thoughts, inspirations and memories are difficult to put into words. She was more than just a leader; she was an example of dedication and ethical leadership. She battled corruption with a unique blend of intelligence and empathy, and it was an honour to be guided by her leadership and witness her remarkable firsthand impact.

She left an indelible mark through her achievements and the values she instilled in all of us. Her principles, passion, and relentless perseverance continue to light the way for anyone committed to making the world a fairer and more just place, and her legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched – mine included.

I am grateful for her mentorship and inspiration. Thank you, Gretta. You will forever be remembered and deeply missed.

In addition to everything that has already been said, Gretta was a porto seguro (safe harbour) for me. I don't know if in English this expression has the deep meaning that it has in Portuguese, where it appears in literature, poetry and music, and it is with this meaning that I felt Gretta.

I am very grateful that I had the chance to work with Gretta at the Institute. I send my deepest condolences to her family.

I warmly remember how Gretta welcomed me to the Institute on my first day. She had taken the time to learn a little about my background, and reassured me that as a divorced mother like her, I would find a supportive working environment here. And she was absolutely right. Gretta's legacy at the Institute is not only success in *what* the organisation achieves, but also in the *how*. We must all carry that forward in her honour.

My deepest sympathies are with her family, especially her children whom she loved so much.

There is a moment in everyone’s life when a man has to choose in what way to move on and there are people who inspires you to keep going on in the right directions. Gretta came in my life to evidence that it is possible to have freedom of choosing the side of good and being successful. I feel blessed having the chance to draw from Gretta’s energy and to share her dreams for a better world together with all colleagues in Basel Institute.

Gretta’s passion to freedom and unconditional love to her family and children have scratched the darkness around us and ignited the unquenchable light in me. Gretta’s presence in this world is irreplaceable. I stand in deepest grief with her family and I am sure she will walk on their side every day for good.

You will always remain in my memory as the leader who always had a word of encouragement when everything seemed to be going wrong. You're still in my heart. Thank you, Gretta.

My thoughts are with Gretta's family, especially her sons, in this terrible time. I hope that these messages, one day, will help them find some comfort.

Gretta was a leading voice in the anti-corruption field.
She was also a listener, always approachable and making people feel heard.
She was a thinker and she was also a doer.
She was the face of the Basel Institute, she was also its heart...

I feel grateful for having had the chance to meet her. Having had the chance to experience her unique leadership, inspiring, caring and with the best sense of humour. She will be deeply missed.

My heartfelt condolences to Gretta's Family, her loved ones and the Basel Institute on Governance. In more than 3 years that I worked with Gretta, she was always professional and a leader who was a role model and an inspiration to all. Her door was always open to all, she was always calm, compassionate and empathetic and had a smile no matter the circumstances.

She achieved so much in fighting corruption all over the world and she made a difference in a lot of countries. It is difficult to grasp that she is gone at such an early age and the gap she has left cannot be filled. As her family are going through this devastating period, may the memory of her achievements in making a difference in many countries be of some comfort. May she rest in peace and her memory a blessing.

Doy gracias por haber tenido el privilegio de conocerla. Conocí a la Gretta de sus muchas facetas. Como lideresa, como profesional, como emprendedora, como gestora de crisis, como visionaria y política. Pero sobre todo como mi amiga, que por más temas que tenga la agenda, tenía tiempo para que charlemos de la familia, de visitar Perú, de atenderme en mis consultas y a partir de eso solucionar y proponer más allá de mis expectativas.

Ha sido duro el remesón que ocasiona contemplar nuestra finitud pero queda el consuelo de haber contribuido con los ideales y principios que marcaron su vida y sintonizar con el amor que desprendía como madre, amiga y ciudadana global. Hasta pronto Gretta, una persona como tú solo nos adelanta el camino, pero nunca nos dejará.

It is extremely painful to write about Gretta, my dearest friend. Her tragic passing is so unfair and incomprehensible.

I will never forget the first time I talked to Gretta during my interview for a position at the Basel Institute. I can still hear her voice over the phone saying: “as we are born on the same day, I should like you”. Following some years of working together, Gretta became for me a very dear and special friend cherishing together endless discussions over dinners, birthday lunches, holidays about life, kids, the world order.

Gretta had an infectious passion that made people feel that the Institute could change the world. Under her leadership the Institute punched above its weight and attracted exceptional individuals who trusted and believed in her vision. Gretta combined deep expertise on how the systems work, how governments operate, what loopholes are there, and she was constantly fighting for bringing positive change. At the same time, she was a direct, personable, genuine, and authentic Leader who could easily convince others to join her along the way. This world has lost a true fighter for doing good no matter the personal cost.

Apart from being such a fearless and passionate professional, she was also a dedicated mother of two wonderful boys and always so proud of their achievements and growth. When she was speaking about them, her face would lighten up as she always praised their unique skills. Dear Lukas, dear Lorenz, my heartfelt condolences.

Goodbye my dear twin! I miss you so much already. It was an honor to have met and share moments of this life with you. Your positive energy, motivation, drive, and kindness will always remain an inspiration. May you rest in peace!

What makes a life however long or short? Commitment, caring, making a difference and most important passion. It is a measure of what matters. Gretta made a difference. She cared and acted with passion in all she did. She succeeded to pass on her passion and made those around her care. One of several passions we shared was her anti-corruption work. And that field has become better for the footprint she left on it. Gretta, you were a long time companion who touched me in many ways. Rest in Peace.

Gretta's earthly absence leaves an immense void, but it also leaves us a legacy of generosity, friendship and respect, of unique moments and unforgettable memories.
I will remember your memory forever.
May you rest in peace.

It's very difficult, and almost unfair, to have to summarise Gretta's attributes into a single message.

As a professional she was a force of nature and possessed a drive and devotion to justice that was simply magnetic. Her impact in the field of anti-corruption will echo for a long, long time. As a boss she was a fantastic leader. She had an incredible ability to instil confidence in everyone that worked with her, even when we found ourselves in the most daunting of situations.

And most importantly, as a person, she was kind. Her first thought seemed to always be for others. She wanted the best for everyone and, more often than not, she would do everything within her power to achieve this. She will be missed enormously.

I hope words could voice the deep feelings of sadness for Gretta's early passing. Although I didn't have the opportunity for a daily sharing with her, her visits to the office in Peru were enough to transmit her enthusiasm for the work and, above all, her human warmth to motivate and guide us in the collective aspiration for a better world.

Thank you for the roads you traveled so that those of us who came after you could continue, thank you for your genuine interest in building our bases, thank you for always being on the right side and thank you for your unlimited capacity to transform everything.

We'll never know how to say goodbye to our friends, and in your case, to an exceptional soul. May your memory always be honored.

I will never forget Gretta's kindness and the way she brightened our days and made us feel special. Dear Gretta, we will miss you so much!

An exemplary leader, a brilliant woman, always willing to help, listen, talk and advise... no matter how busy she was with her thousand and one activities. We all owe her a heartfelt tribute for everything she gave us.

Our hearts already miss her smile, her empathy and her care. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones during this difficult time. May she rest in peace. I will always remember her with great respect and affection.

Your work and commitment transcended borders, jurisdictions, and even university faculties, so that many of us knew about you, even without knowing you personally (Sit Tibi Terra Levis).

I used to joke with Gretta that if she weren't the boss, she would make an awesome communications officer. She had an innate talent for expressing her ideas in compelling ways – not only in words but in her body language, her expressions and her eyes. Gretta's dynamism when she spoke at conferences made her a nightmare to photograph and wonderful to hear.

She spoke and wrote from the heart, and that made her able to touch the hearts of everyone who met or heard or read her words. She could joke with a prime minister then turn around and ask a prosecutor she had last met three years ago about his wife. Then jump on stage and explain to the world, in no uncertain terms and in any of several languages she spoke fluently, just what was going wrong and what needed to be done.

A rare, spontaneous and beautiful talent. I am one of many hundreds who will miss her greatly and who is determined to carry on her fight.

Creo que la palabra que resume lo que Gretta significaba para todos nosotros, es INSPIRACIÓN. Su fortaleza, sus ganas, sin duda su profesionalismo, hace de Gretta una mujer excepciona y un excelente ser humano. RIP Gretta.

In testament to her passion, Gretta inspired me to fulfil a dream by joining Basel Institute's International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) at the beginning of April 2024. Barely a week later, she tragically passed away depriving me the opportunity to express my appreciation for her in person. Thank you and fare thee well Gretta, you will be dearly missed by family, friends and colleagues.

Gretta was an important person in my life since I appeared in Switzerland. She wrote me an email with a job offer finding my post in some refugee's group in Facebook where I wrote about stacking in Switzerland with no possibility to come back home and was searching for any project to survive here.

I will always be thankful for her trust to me, appreciate her passion in her beliefs and actions. She made a lot for Ukraine and Ukrainians in a dark time for us. It's a great grief and loss for her family, team and me personally that she is not with us anymore.

I still remember meeting Gretta for the first time during my interview, as if it were just the other day; it was one of the best conversations I ever had. Her humility and calmness in a chaotic world, her energy despite being stretched so thin, and her love for humanity, Africa and justice were admirable.

She lives an imprint that many of us can only dream of. We have lost a wonderful person, a thought leader and a friend. What an incredible gift to have worked with you and known you. Fare thee well, Gretta!

It is hard to write these words because it means you are really gone. I will always remember you as an excellent leader, but even more as such a kind person. You will be in our hearts forever.

It’s difficult to put into words just how much Gretta was valued as a leader and as a person. Her approachability and humor profoundly influenced us all, creating a pleasant working atmosphere at the Institute. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones during this difficult time.

Gretta was an inspiring leader, dedicated to the fight against corruption. She was also an incredible human being. On my first day at work, she told me that what made working at the Institute special was not only the good cause, but also the people and the relationships we cultivated, and she was the driving force behind that.

She was the heart of the Institute. It is truly heartbreaking that she has left this world so early, but I am sure that her legacy will live on. My thoughts are with her family and close ones.

I met Gretta Fenner in February 2020, at a meeting organised by the Subnational GFP Program in Lima – Peru. I was then working as a consultant for this program. From the first moment Gretta was friendly and friendly with us, she was always interested in the work that the Peruvian team was doing, giving us her desire to continue fighting corruption.

Two years after I had the privilege of staying two months at the headquarters of the Basel Institute on Governance, during this time I could see the great spirit of struggle and leadership that Gretta had with the team, she was really inspiring.

Gretta worked hard to bring the Basel Institute on Governance forward. Her hard work is reflected in the growth of our institution and the great achievements that have been made in the fight against corruption at the international level. Her departure leaves us a huge void that can hardly be filled; however, her memory and legacy will always accompany us.

Gretta! Dass du so plötzlich und brutal aus dem Leben gerissen wurdest, lässt mich sprach- und fassungslos zurück. Wie so viele Menschen hast du auch mich berührt und geprägt. Ich verdanke dir so viel, liebe Gretta. Du hast mir 2007 beim Basel Institute on Governance meine erste Stelle während dem Studium ermöglicht, hast mich gefordert und gefördert, an mich geglaubt und mich wertgeschätzt; ich hätte mir keine bessere erste «Chefin» vorstellen können!

Und es blieb nicht beim Studijob. Jahre später, genau zur richtigen Zeit, hast du mich für eine befristete Vertretung zurück ans Basel Institute geholt. Da warst du schon lange viel mehr als bloss Vorgesetzte. Den Kontakt behielten wir auch danach bei, weder häufig noch regelmässig, aber für mich warst du stets präsent, und immer, wenn ich zurückblickte und an dich dachte, verspürte ich Inspiration und grosse Vertrautheit und grenzenlose Bewunderung.

Und dann brachtest du mich ein drittes Mal zum Basel Institute – wieder genau zur für mich richtigen Zeit. Ich habe mich so auf die erneute Zusammenarbeit mit dir ab Mai 2024 gefreut! Und ich dachte, ich hätte genug Zeit, dir für all deine Unterstützung, dein Vertrauen, deine Wertschätzung, deine Freundschaft in all den Jahren zu danken.

Ich bin unendlich traurig. Und gleichzeitig schätze ich mich unendlich glücklich, dass ich dich kennenlernen durfte. Du bist ein wichtiger Mensch in meinem Leben und bleibst für immer in meinem Herzen.

Ich trauere um dich, Gretta. Ich trauere mit deiner Familie, mit deinen Freunden und Kolleginnen, und ich wünsche allen Betroffenen viel Kraft und Mut und Zuversicht und gegenseitiges Getragensein in dieser schwierigen und zehrenden Zeit des Abschiednehmens und der Trauer.

A long time ago, Gretta took a gamble, recruiting a policeman from London with little knowledge of the world of international development. Throughout the next eleven and a half years, we grew the operation from a small handful of people to a multinational global team making a real difference in the world.

Nothing was too much trouble for Gretta, she knew that life would through up challenges and obstacles but was always happy to take a phone call and find a solution, even in the middle of a horse riding trip through rural Europe.

She was a consummate diplomat, knowing exactly where to find resolution and where, if necessary, to walk away. Because she was willing to take a leap into the unknown and send employees to live and work thousands of miles away, we have been lucky enough to spend a decade living in Africa where my family has grown and matured.

Known as Mrs Boss to my then three year old (now 13), Gretta became our dear friend and over the years we shared a bottle of wine everywhere from Zurich to Nairobi to Pretoria. You may have been taken too soon Gretta, but there is a legacy and legend that will go down in history. Go well Mrs Boss.

Dear Gretta, you changed so many lives in multiple ways. Thank you for welcoming me to the Institute, for the constant support through hard times and for allowing me to thrive in a country I now call home. Your presence and constant support will be felt for many, many years to come.

In these deeply difficult and sad times for all of us who know Gretta I would like to thank Gretta’s mum Franziska for bringing such an inspirational, warm, intelligent, fearless woman with a good sense of humour to this world. We have shared many chitchats especially on Fridays about kids. She brightened up the room with her presence and really was a true force of our Institute.

I feel privileged to have got to know her and to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Institute's journey.

It's not easy to talk about our loved ones who leave our earthly lives. It's the good memories and examples they leave behind that help us carry on. It's the memories that make us believe that we still have them with us on a daily basis and will continue to do so.

Gretta will always be with me, as long as I have a memory! I feel like I've lost not only our "Supreme Leader", but above all a great friend. Thank you, Gretta, for your friendship and for your vision and commitment to a better world. You will always be the example I will follow when I lack the strength to fight for better Justice.

At such an awful time I recall the wonderfully uplifting words of the great, late comedian Bill Hicks (also taken from us far too young): " I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.” Equally applicable to Gretta.

When I met Gretta, I was awed by her support of my work at Basel. Her attention to the nuances of my work, and her openness prompted me to ask her: "How do you do it Gretta?" Of course she laughed off!

And in that moment, I knew as a leader, it's all in the nuances of how you touch the people who are with you. I believe that life is full of glimmers and I am grateful to have caught a happy glimmer with Gretta.

To family and friends, in my mother tongue, we say "Na hukare pole hosini". Lala salama, Gretta.

Gretta was a true anti-corruption champion and a friend to everyone who lived a life filled with love and purpose.

After the utter shock and disbelief at hearing the tragic news it took me a while to process Gretta's continuous images flashing by over the years, beginning in Basel and in several countries, gatherings and most recently in New York and Atlanta.

During the formation of ICAR and its growth and changes it was always clear that Gretta, this level headed, extremely competent and hard working professional and activist would hold the reins and lead the organization through many milestones.

Back in the day, in the office I used to say Gretta should be the President of Switzerland! If anyone could actually pull it off while juggling a million things it would be her.

With great sadness I pay homage to a wonderful woman, a deep personal friend and former boss who made us all proud, charmed and loved. Healing prayers to her sons Lukas and Lawrence and partner Christian.

I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to Gretta's family and to all of those around the world touched by her loss. Having worked with Gretta at the Basel Institute, I will always remember her dedication to her principles and commitment to the causes of fighting corruption and injustice. She was genuinely a wonderful person. Gretta will be sorely missed, while her memory and impact will live on.

Gretta always cared about how people were doing and did everything in her power to improve everyone's situation. If you didn't think there was a solution, she would come in and bring in other aspects that you hadn't even thought of. It was always a constructive exchange that was so appreciated and beneficial also on a personal level. Her speed in analysing situations was impressive and always spurred me on to shape and professionalise our HR at the Institute.

Gretta was much more than the Managing Director of the Basel Institute, she was a kind-hearted person with a down-to-earth attitude, caring and a great sense of humour. I will miss Gretta very much and am incredibly sad that she did not get to see her children grow up. Her children can be immensely proud to have had a mother who has played such a pivotal role in shaping an organisation such as the Basel Institute.

Gretta's services are of immeasurable value, just as she was invaluable as a person. Gretta, you will always have a place in my heart and I will look back with pride and joy on the wonderful time I spent working with you. Rest in peace Gretta.

Dear Gretta, the news of you leaving us left me speechless. You were the ultimate one and only. You moved hearts and rocks with immense passion, empathy and relentless energy – you have impacted every corner of the world.

Even years after our paths diverged professionally, the impromptu messages at the strangest hours on every topic imaginable gave me the comfort to know that I could always count on you – even for a random joke in the tensest of situations. Do know that I take the memories of our friendship as inspiration to contribute to a better day every morning.

No message does justice to you... my thoughts are with you and your lovely family. Go get them G.

Dear Gretta, It has been a rather intense couple of weeks. I have sat down several times in front of the computer to write this note and failed. Instead of ideas there were overwhelming feelings.

My life changed the day I met you and it is changing again now that you are gone. I am sure this is true for all of us who have been close to you on this incredible journey that has been your life.

I would like to leave testimony here of the fleeting instant in which our existences have coincided with the hope that those who survive you will know you through this brief story, from your friend and companion of dreams and wanderings.

More than a decade ago I left a comfortable and promising job at the University of Geneva to follow you in the feverish idea of fighting corruption. I remember thinking that I had found a group of people who shared the same passion for justice and law. I came to the institute for 3 months and I am already 12 intense years of the most incredible personal and professional experiences. The Basel Institute was then an embryo of what it has now become under your incredible leadership. But the truth is that we were not very clear then about the scale of the universe we were willing to enter voluntarily: the fight against transnational corruption.

In these long and busy years, we have seen it all. We have expanded organically to various parts of the world and have grown in maturity. In the midst of the frequent pessimism that governs the global fight against corruption, your energy has always inspired us to continue and to look for solutions where none seemed to exist.

In 2015, you sent me to Latin America to open the first decentralised branch of the Basel Institute in Lima, with more dreams and enthusiasm than clear ideas. Soon after came the first concrete achievements and with them the confirmation that the strategic expansion was the right one. I must admit that you were extremely courageous and visionary to have taken such a step. You have visited me in Peru numerous times and we have travelled throughout the region planning programmes or even working on the asset recovery cases assigned to us. You have not been a desk boss, you got involved in the cases as another operator with your always critical ideas and with your abundant network of contacts you were the best ally in the complex procedures of judicial cooperation. The justice operators of these countries (and they are not few in number) will always remember you with gratitude for the valuable assistance you have given them in their lonely attempts to seek international justice.

Today the Latin American office has more than fifty employees and we have expanded to Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico. Inexorably the Institute continues to expand across the continent carrying your ideas and teachings with it. I am consoled that you have lived long enough to see the emergence of a new generation of young Latin Americans who admire your legacy and who I am convinced will continue it, disseminating your ideas of justice and freedom. For my part, dear friend, I will continue with our plans. Although without you it will not be the same, I feel committed to act as I always believed you when you said that inaction was no better than corruption itself. You were right, as long as there exist people like you in the world dear Gretta, there will be hope for a better life.

Fly high my dear friend.

I met Gretta in 2022 coming out of a burn out that left me and my family half broken. I was trying to reconnect to the meaningful part of my lawyer's career when Gretta – followed by Gemma and Andrea – opened widely the door of the Institute to me. I worked part time at the Institute and only for 6 months under the IV and Gretta's protection. The combination of peace and passion in Gretta and her teams helped me heal to the extent I could admit and express my desire to embrace a new professional path after 20 years of experience in my field.

Gretta and I were exactly the same age just as our respective children. My son was in Tanzania for a long stay at the same time as hers in Kenya and she enjoyed calling ourselves proudly the Swiss mothers with African sons. She loved her boys above anything and was very proud of them. Mothers never truly leave us, their love continues guiding us.

Gretta has put a strong stain on me both on a personal and professional level because of the contrast between her determination and leadership and her natural ability to connect with the most profound and sensitive part in people regardless of their origins and culture. I am just one person among many others in every continent she changed the life of. I have no doubt family, friends and colleagues will cultivate the values she was keen on following, defending and passing through both in her private and professional lives.

May these meagre words along with time help those who were day after day by her side to overcome this immense loss and their grief. My humble thoughts are with you all.

My sincere condolences for the loss of a great human being and exceptional professional.

We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will.
- Anonymous

We were on the same journey and in the same boat as you. And even though you are no longer present, we are still navigating. Following the same route and coordinates. We are still following you; your battle is still ours. Thank you for your inspirational spirit. Descansa en paz Gretta.

Gretta created the right environment for anti-corruption discussions and solutions to thrive. But above all she did it while impacting the personal lives of every person she came across. It was a privilege and an honour to have been led by such a maverick and a role model for all women in the governance space. Rest well Gretta!

Dear Gretta, If I could, I would do anything to bring you back. Still, one thing that brings me joy is feeling your presence in the Institute, and knowing we are all dedicated to carrying on your legacy. We want to make you feel proud and happy, wherever you are. In every single training I develop for the Institute, I will think about whether it would make you happy. I hope it will.

I will always be grateful for meeting you: an example as a professional, but most important, an incredible mom to two amazing boys. You are the kind of woman I look up to. Sending my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and our colleagues. Thank you for everything.

It's raining. The morning of my first day at work. As I climb the stairs to start my new, exciting job at the Institute, I know you won't be there. I bring you a white rose to say hello.

But you are there. In the warm welcome and kind words from your team, of which I am now a part. In the little remarks about your leadership, your empathy, your commitment. And in the countless white roses next to your photo.

I realise that you will always be present in these rooms where the sun suddenly shines through the windows. Just like in the hearts of the people who were lucky enough to work with you.

The last words you shared with me will resonate in my memory and inspire my work for your, surely our, vision: Das wird top!

Erinnerungen an Gretta:

Im Anruf mit VIP X, barfuß schreitend, winkt sie dir durch die Tür zu. Mist, sie hat schon eure Lieblingstasse gekapert!

Du vergisst mal wieder deine Tasse in der Küche, bist beschäftigt irgendwohin geflattert. Ich gieß dir deinen Tee auf.

Sie fragt: «was willst du werden», «was sind deine Träume»? Ich antworte: «blabla», obgleich ich meine: «sein wie du».

I met Gretta during her visit to the Basel-Peru office, and the familiarity with which she addressed us was captivating. We were all shy before her arrival, but that peculiar essence of hers, which varied between funny, attentive, and soft, made us keep a pleasant memory of that night.

Gretta was a great leader and an exceptional person with a special sense of equality and common welfare. Her cordiality and human warmth are implicit resources that come to mind when we think of her. Their memory will become our motivation.

Gretta's passing was such sad and tragic news. My sincere sympathies and condolences to Gretta's family, and our colleagues at the Basel Institute. She leaves a lasting legacy of championing individuals and organizations who fight corruption on a daily basis, and her inspiring efforts of improving state governance will surely live on.

Gretta had many remarkable talents but it was her ability to speak with people at all levels that I particularly admired. She was at ease with meeting high level public officials and government Ministers and she built such a rapport with them that they often found her as a source of great support to them. On the other hand, I recall that she would tell us about her conversations with the Sri Lankan coffee seller in Bern on her commute to the office.

She would show a great empathy with all those she met. Mostly, I will remember her for her sense of fun and for the conversations we had at the quieter moments in the office or when we were travelling, talking about life and our families. May she rest in peace.

No words can really provide any comfort when losing someone so dear and so close… I would like to express my sincerest and heartfelt condolences, especially to Gretta’s family, her partner and her two sons. May you eventually find solace in Gretta’s memory as an exceptional woman and a truly remarkable person… for all that you’ve held her dear for.

Dear Gretta, what devastating news, what a tragedy! Unbelievable to accept that you have been taken from us, much too early! My heartfelt condolences to your family, friends and colleagues, to the entire anti-corruption community. It has been a real privilege to know and work with you. You have been and will continue to shine as source of inspiration, role model, great leader and enthusiastic, 300% committed champion in the fight against corruption.

You always lead by example, had the finest intellect, wonderful sense of humor and are certainly the most authentic, competent and professional "boss" I ever had. You will forever be my source of motivation and strength when the going gets tough. May you rest in peace whilst we continue your mission to make this world a better place!

I only worked with Gretta for a short time, but I feel so lucky to have had the chance to meet her and spend time in her presence. She radiated kindness, leadership, and fearlessness. I will forever be inspired by the inimitable person she was and by her drive to change the world for the better.

I interacted with Gretta more via email than in person but I knew she is a caring leader, doing things in the field of work she really loves. I don’t know how despite the busy schedule she had, and tons of stuff she needed to taken care of at the Institute, she managed to still put in all her heart and mind for every projects and proposal we have, reviewing them in details, and giving her strategic feedback that sometimes unthinkable for us (and of course helping us winning the proposals!). No one, no issue, is too small for her to listen to. If these are not love to the field of anti-corruption and to her colleagues at the Institute, I don't know what that is.

It is very very sad that she left us all (I still find it hard to believe), but I am glad that she spent her life doing things she loved, enjoyed, and made her happy. Thank you so much for all the things I got to learn from our interactions, and the opportunities you gave me. I learned a lot from you, and I’m very honored that we had you as our leader. Rest in peace, Gretta.

Es gibt nur wenige Menschen, die Herzlichkeit, Wärme, Überzeugungskraft, Professionalität und Engagement so sehr verbinden wie Gretta Fenner. Es schmerzt zutiefst, ihren Namen in Sätze in der Vergangenheitsform einzubinden.

Aber ein wichtiger Gedanke reicht weit in die Zukunft: Gretta wird uns weiterhin inspirieren und antreiben für eine gerechtere Welt einzustehen. Wenn immer wir an einen Punkt kommen an dem wir auf diesem Weg zögern, da möge eine Erinnerung an Gretta uns helfen, diesen Punkt zu überwinden, so wie sie immer die Kraft fand, über sich selbst hinauszuwachsen und andere dazu anzuleiten und anzuspornen.

Unsere Gedanken sind bei Euch, die ihr am allernächsten standen: Wir wünschen Euch alle Kraft die es braucht, über mit Schicksalsschlag umzugehen, und werden Gretta ein ehrendes Andenken bewahren.

Gretta was and will always be my shining star, lightening the path of darkness and bringing me strength and faith that it is possible to rid this world of the cancerous plague called corruption! She led that fight with unmatched passion and contagious conviction! As all of us, I am also so very devastated and broken beyond words but after being shattered in pieces, I am dusting off, gathering strength and pressing forward with even greater zeal to deliver the results that I know would have made Gretta proud. This is truly the best way to honor your grand legacy, Gretta, and rest assured that we will.

You were more than an inspiration to me, dearest Gretta! You are the reason I am back in my own birthplace carrying the uneasy torch of the anti-corruption fight. I will never forget the very first conversation we had about what is possible in Bulgaria and how you helped me to grow my wings of hope and make the decision to pack my bags and move back to Sofia in a matter of days all the way from Washington DC; how you supported me through the difficult struggles of the never ending election cycles in Bulgaria that inevitably always pulled us back to start from scratch; you kept my faith in what is possible; you were always available to talk to me – even on Christmas day when I called you to ask if we should embark on a risky move that could go either very right or very, very wrong; you encouraged me and this risk ultimately led to the adoption of the very first Whistleblower Protection Act in Bulgaria; I will never forget your ability to start from the position of hopelessness and build it into a grand vision for success. I will forever quote you when in a meeting in Bulgaria you stated firmly that your only political party affiliation is that of the UN Convention Against Corruption.

I admired your devotion to spreading goodness in the world, your passion, your wits, your quick mind, your strength, your humor, your elegance and beauty, your devotion to your children, your tenacious energy to lead 10 back-to-back panels at the UN CoSP conference in Atlanta, and most of all I admired that you were such a good, caring and genuine human being all the while you built an empire out of the Basel Institute! You were a true leader and your legacy is unmatched! But I promise you that I will do my best to walk in your footsteps and honor the memories of your grandness. Rest in peace, dear Gretta! You will aways remain in my heart until we meet again!

What can I say about Gretta? To me, she is a legend, a global anti-corruption icon and a drum major for good governance. As an African, I must commend Gretta for her commitment to making a positive impact in Africa.

About a decade ago, as investigators and prosecutors, we had very little knowledge of asset recovery and financial investigations. It was only after we received training from ICAR on asset recovery that we started to conduct parallel investigations that we began to make significant progress in recovering assets. Looking back now, I fully realise how much Gretta's professional at ICAR brought a paradigm shift in the way the handled financial crimes.

Africa celebrates the life of a great friend and compassionate compatriot in the fight against grand corruption. We will always remember you, Gretta.

We often hear that when it comes to addressing corruption and other big issues in our societies, we need more leadership that WALKS the TALK. Gretta was an amazing embodiment of this much-needed leadership, both on a personal and professional level.

And walk she did! We still hear her unmistakable footsteps down the hall, running between meetings to keep up with her busy schedule but never too busy not to check in with all of us. Footsteps that will be missed but have left their unmistakable mark in the hearts and minds of all of us who were lucky enough to know her!

I will forever cherish the memory of Gretta as a profoundly inspirational an influential role model, as well as a tremendously compassionate individual and a wonderful friend. Her tragic passing is a devastating loss. While my heart aches with sorrow, I am grateful to have had the privilege of knowing her. My deepest sympathies extend to her family, loved ones, friends and colleagues at the Basel Institute on Governance.

Dass Gretta so früh und so plötzlich aus dem Leben gerissen wurde, macht mich sehr betroffen. Während meines Studiums durfte ich über viele Jahre am Institut arbeiten. In dieser Zeit und auch in all den Jahren danach hat Gretta mich jederzeit gefördert, unterstützt und tief beeindruckt. Ihre Energie, ihre Intelligenz, ihre Leidenschaft und ihr Charisma waren einzigartig.

Ohne die Jahre mit ihr als Chefin würde ich im Leben nicht dort stehen, wo ich jetzt bin. Ich bin für immer dankbar, dass Gretta mir so viel mitgegeben hat. Ich möchte der Familie von Gretta und dem Team des Basel Institute meine herzliche Anteilnahme aussprechen.

It is fair to say that Gretta is the main reason, for which I have decided to join the Institute a while ago. The passion for the cause that she so vigorously defended and the joy of life that she was spreading around, were contagious and so deeply inspiring that joining the institute became an evidence after having met Gretta.

I have known Gretta only for a relatively short period of time, but her enthusiasm, dedication, professionalism, sharp mind and above all her kindness have deeply impressed me and influenced the way I have learnt to know the Basel Institute. Gretta was not only a charismatic leader and an outstanding professional, but a compassionate person that always took the time (even, if she did not have it) to listen to others and show her interest for colleagues and friends.

It is this rare empathy that made Gretta so unique and gave her the power to naturally attract others for the noble cause (fighting corruption) that she has devoted her professional life to.

It is difficult to find words to express the immense loss that her disappearance is causing, not just from a professional, but also from an interpersonal standpoint. Her tragic passing cruelly reminds us how fragile life is and that we need to fully enjoy every happy moment with the people around us. Seeing how much grief her loss is causing to a person that has known Gretta for only a short time, gives me a hint of how it must feel for her loved ones.

My thoughts and prayers are with Gretta's family, friends and loved ones.

Gretta was an extraordinary chief: intelligent, brilliant talent of communication, full of energy; fixed to reach the highest goals, concentrated one moment and distracted the next, always a win for any podium on international corruption, taking care of personal sorrows of her team and so on…

I still cannot get over the question: why had she to die so early? My sincerest condolences go for all of her beloved ones. I will never forget her.