Passing of Our Friend and Colleague Chris Lanier

Dear CAUSE Friends,

We remember and celebrate the life of Chris Lanier, CAUSE Civic Engagement Organizer, who passed away on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 in Santa Barbara. Chris had been battling cancer for more than a year. However, this Spring his battle took a turn for the worst. Chris died peacefully and happily, surrounded by his family and had a constant stream of visits from friends and colleagues during his final weeks.

Chris' passion for social justice brought him to CAUSE and made CAUSE a more powerful and special place. For all who knew Chris, please join us in keeping all his family, and especially his sister Kate and nephews Henry and Tyrone, in our loving thoughts.

Chris' Friends and Family are hosting a pot luck to Celebrate the Life of Chris Lanier on Sunday, July 22, 2012 from 2 to 5 pm at Elings Park's Godric Grove, 1298 Las Positas Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Chris was a dedicated local activist and leader who worked as an organizer at CAUSE and for the Santa Barbara Democratic Party. He left a legacy of service, community engagement, and friendship.

In the spirit of community, please bring a blanket for the lawn, snacks, beverage or a bottle of wine to share. Dress for the park.  

We encourage carpooling as parking is limited and may involve some uphill walking. Please contact Lalo at CAUSE if you need or prefer physical assistance since we will be running a volunteer shuttle to the upper lot.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Christopher Lanier Award, an endowed grant we are establishing to support individuals with the same altruistic ideals and passionate activism that Chris demonstrated in his life. More info on that to follow.

Please contact Lalo Castro at CAUSE For more information at (805) 658-0810 ext 200, or at

About Chris:

A Native of New York City, Chris Lanier attended Trinity School and Wesleyan University, where he majored in English and Theater. Until 1989 he pursued a calling on the stage, performing in over 20 NY productions with three different theater groups. In 1989, while living in the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Chris discovered a new calling.  Recruited by community organizers, he participated in fair housing, voter registration and civil rights organizing in that neighborhood, co-founding the Southside Political Action Committee. In 1990 the Committee became a field office for Brooklyn’s Dinkins for Mayor campaign, in 1991 the Committee spearheaded a grassroots push for a Latino-majority district in Brooklyn in the decennial redistricting, and in 1992 helped to coordinate the Nydia Velazquez for Congress campaign.

In 1993, along with musician/activist Manny Maldonado, he co-founded Musica Against Drugs, an HIV prevention organization that incorporated arts and culture into a process for community healing. Within four years as Director of Development, Lanier raised more than $4.5 million dollars and helped build street outreach, food service and delivery, an active art gallery/theater space, music and arts workshops, and case management services to prevent the spread of HIV and provide services to people living with AIDS. In 1996 Lanier joined the Harm Reduction Coalition as the coordinator of a national campaign for federal funding for syringe exchange programs (the National Coalition to Save Lives Now!).  Lanier also worked as the Development Director for the Latino Commission on AIDS in Manhattan for just over four years.

In 2001 Lanier began working professionally on political campaigns, serving as a senior advisor or campaign manager for 12 NYC campaigns through 2007, including Palma for Council (Bronx), Peralta for Assembly (Queens), Naomi Rivera for Assembly (Bronx), Gentile for Council (Brooklyn), McManus for Council (Bronx). He was the campaign manager for Yvette Clarke’s successful run for Shirley Chisolm’s former Congressional seat in Central Brooklyn, and also managed Dr. Mathieu Eugene’s election to the New York City Council from Flatbush, representing the first Haitian-American officeholder in New York State History. In California, Chris was a Deputy Director for the Hannah-Beth Jackson for Senate campaign in 2008, and has worked on municipal elections throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Chris was proud to serve as the Civic Engagement Organizer at CAUSE, where he worked since 2010, helping to build a progressive voter majority and grassroots community power along the California Central Coast through voter turnout, resistance to the broken and unfair California budget process, and building community participation in redistricting.

Chris was an amazing man and a passionate warrior for social justice! Let us all keep his spirit with us, and utilize this opportunity to recommit ourselves to the struggle for social justice in our communities.

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