Celebrating the Life of Visionary Arts Supporter, Corporate Leader, and Former Board Member Barry Griswell

Americans for the Arts celebrates the life and contributions of Barry Griswell, former CEO of Principal Financial Group and Board Member of Americans for the Arts, who passed away Friday, June 5. Griswell’s vision for nurturing the growth of the arts in the United States was centered on making the arts part of the everyday experience, providing opportunities for young and emerging artists, and embracing cultural diversity to heighten understanding.

A true champion for the arts, Griswell also served as president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Des Moines and was a recipient of the 2003 Horatio Alger Association Distinguished American Award. When Griswell received the 2006 BCA 10 Leadership Award from Americans for the Arts, he said, “I firmly believe our ongoing support of the arts is a must-have investment in the well-being of our employees and the vitality of our community. The arts stimulate the intellectual, emotional and creative development of future leaders, workers and problem solvers we need to keep our community—and our company—great.”

Under Griswell’s leadership, Principal Financial developed a 760-piece museum-quality art collection to share with the public; underwrote a 70-city, three-year tour of Treasures to Go, an exhibition of works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection that would have remained in storage during the renovation of several museums; and was a champion and founding sponsor of the Des Moines Art Festival—the fourth largest event of its type in the country.

Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said, “Barry Griswell was an inspirational leader who helped shape our approaches to encouraging arts and business partnerships that lead to innovation and creativity in the workplace and healthier communities. He made a tremendous impact in Des Moines and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him on engaging business leaders nationwide in our work.”

To learn more about Griswell, watch this short vignette that was created in 2008 when Americans for the Arts awarded Principal Financial Group the Corporate Citizenship in the Arts Award at the National Arts Awards. His amazing personal story can be found on the Horatio Alger Society website.

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