On Sunday, January 5, we lost one of our most important leaders and a dear friend. For the past three+ years, Lynne had been one of the anchors of Retake. Today, we pay tribute to her life and spirit.
After a tribute from Retake Our Democracy, we offer words from two activists with whom Lynne worked very closely: Heather Karlson, New Mexico Climate Action, and Paul Biderman, Citizens Climate Lobby.
Remembering Lynne Fischer
A Gentle Spirit, a Determined Force, a Peace Maker
After a six-month battle with cancer, Lynne Fischer died Sunday morning, January 5, at 4am. We have lost a truly remarkable activist and, for Roxanne and I and so many others, a valued friend. Today we pay tribute to her spirit, her kindness, and her dogged determination, and we share a little bit about who Lynne was outside her activism.
Lynne was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, perhaps explaining where she got her progressive values. She earned her B.A. in Psychology at Lawrence University in Wisconsin and M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. Before retiring and moving to Santa Fe in 2014, Lynne lived in Durango, Colorado for 20 years, where she had a private therapy practice and worked in leadership development at Lore International Institute and Korn Ferry for a decade.
While in Durango, she met her husband, Dan Fischer, who she married in 2012. From our many conversations sitting in Roundhouse hearing rooms, waiting for something to happen, I know that Dan was the love of her life. While I didn’t know Dan well, from a recent conversation with him, it is clear that he feels the same about her.
People who work together, whether as volunteers or as co-workers, often get to know each other very well and are very close, but may not know much about their friends or family and often do not socialize outside the work involved. That was the case with Lynne and Roxanne and I, so in this post we do not want to venture into that aspect of her life. It would be disingenuous and inauthentic. But we knew Lynne very well in her activism.
Lynn was a passionate climate activist, and shortly after moving to Santa Fe, she became a volunteer for Citizens Climate Lobby and also with the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club for many years. In 2016, feeling as if there really wasn’t one “go to” site for climate action information, she founded the New Mexico Climate Action Network and built and managed its website, while Heather Karlson managed the ever-so-informative e-blasts that went out so often, to so many. Lynne was an active volunteer in the Bernie Sanders campaign where Roxanne and I first met Lynne.
In 2017, she reached out to Roxanne and I and said she’d like to join forces with Retake. She assumed responsibility for organizing and managing what we later called the Roundhouse Advocacy Team or Rat Pack, a team that met during the legislative sessions, but met even more frequently between sessions.
Between sessions, she coordinated efforts to develop a statewide survey on bills we might support, recruit more member of the RAT pack, and faciltate the process of narrowing our focus to a slate of bills Retake would support.
During sessions Lynne was at the Roundhouse several times a week and we often sat together in hearings. While she had a career in leadership coaching and in counseling, Lynne was basically a private and shy person, so speaking in a hearing really was not something that came easily to her. But she didn’t let that deter her. She embodied a person who was willing to move beyond her comfort zone. It may not have been something she liked doing, but it was necessary, and so she did it. And did it well and often.
Lynne also served on the Retake Leadership Team and it is here that her contributions were so important. Perhaps the quality that Roxanne and I our leadership appreciated most about Lynne was her ability to see all sides of an issue and of people. Nowhere was this more important than during the 2019 legislative session, when environmental groups parted ways in their positions on the Energy Transition Act. As a longtime Sierra Club volunteer and a member of Sierra Club’s Alliance, she had roots and relationships with Sierra Club and other climate organizations that supported the ETA, a bill Retake opposed strongly.
But while also opposing the bill, Lynne was ceaseless in advocating for Retake to moderate our opposition. In large part, because of Lynne we supported New Energy Economy in meeting with ETA proponents to seek a middle ground. But even once that effort failed, she was ceaseless in stressing the need to remember that on 90% of climate, water, air and land issues, Sierra Club and Retake were aligned, encouraging us to maintain relations, restore bridges.
She has left a void that can’t be filled, but she has also left a legacy to live up to. And she left behind memory of her compassionate and moderating approach to advocacy. We will miss her dearly, but we will not forget her. We are lucky to have known her for these last few precious years. Retake Our Democracy’s efforts at 2020 Legislative Session will be dedicated to Lynne Fischer. We offer our profound sympathy to Dan, her family, and to all who knew Lynne.
As arrangements are made for a memorial, Dan has indicated he will keep us posted.
In gratitude and sorrow,
Paul & Roxanne
From Heather Karlson, New Mexico Climate Action
Lynne and I met in the spring of 2015 through our shared passion for the health of the environment and the risks to it from climate change. We had long conversations about how to help people become more engaged with the climate crisis and ways to encourage the many environmental groups to come together in collaboration on issues related to climate. In the summer of 2015, I had just started an email newsletter on climate change issues, and Lynne enthusiastically wanted to spread the word in a larger way. We decided to call the effort New Mexico Climate Action, and use the name for both a website that she developed and for my newsletter. She dove into the project with excitement, designing a creative and attractive site that included a blog, recent articles, a calendar, and resources for contacting legislators. Her brother, Chris Zimmerman, supported her work by hosting the website for her at www.newmexicoclimateaction.org.
Since January of 2019, I have been posting the calendar and other items under the “Action” tab on the site, but all other elements of the website as it currently exists are her thoughtful and dedicated work, and will remain online to honor her.
Lynne’s dedication to the environment and a just and peaceful world also showed through her efforts working on the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016, volunteering with the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club, New Energy Economy, 350NM, the Santa Fe chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and other environmental groups as well as extensive work with Retake Our Democracy. She committed wholeheartedly to all of these efforts, always with an eye to helping people collaborate on the issues that truly matter.
Lynne was a bright spirit, full of warmth, humor, and hope. I feel honored to have known, worked, played, and laughed with her. I miss her deeply.
From Paul Biderman, Citizens Climate Lobby
Lynne enlivened our Citizens’ Climate Lobby group for several years. Her poise and skill particularly stood out when she took on a coordinating role for our fall 2017 statewide conference on climate change, the first our group had undertaken. She brought a calm organizational insight to our efforts to overcome what seemed like endless challenges. The success of the conference owed a great deal to Lynne’s attention to detail and good judgment.
It is hard to imagine that Lynne has left us. Her vivacious spirit and unswerving commitment to social justice lit up every room she entered, every group in which she participated. We will miss her deeply.
What very sad news. I will remember Lynne as a very king, caring and compassionate person. I am so glad I got to know her.
I will miss her too. I will always remember canvasing w her one day for Andrea Romero, a fun & friendly day w a great person.
Thank you all for honoring this remarkable woman. One of the things I will miss most about her is her daily passion and purpose for her work with you. Though my grief is overwhelming, I rejoice that I was richly blessed with her love. The legacy she leaves with me and in the lives of my family will change us forever. She continues to advocate.
The above comment was from her husband, Dan Fischer.
It was our honor to work with Lynne, and I will continue to remember her dedication to the earth and all living things every time I engage in this fight. I am so grateful for the time shared with her and wish you and your family the best in this difficult time. May your memories always be joyful.
So very sorry for your loss, Dan.
Sincere condolences to Lynne’s family, friends, and many associates. In reading through these loving remembrances, and without personally knowing Lynne, there is an upliftment radiating out of her life, even to me. And an example to follow. Like the stone tossed into the still pool, the rings spreading out from her center are palpable. Thank you for sharing Lynne with us all.
It is difficult to find words that express the essence of the glow of a person like Lynne. May we all take a piece of that glow into our hearts and bring it forth into our lives with love and remembrance. May we carry on the work that has been so important to her.
Missing my sweet friend, Lynne, will now be a part of my life. My love and condolences go to all of her friends, activist community of friends, family and to Dan, her best friend and partner, and to Gus.
Beautifully expressed and written tribute to Lynne Fischer.
Thank you, Dan and Paul, for sharing Lynne with us. I did not know her, but it is easy to feel grateful for her and her life’s work. May 2020 be healing for you, and bring fruition to the things she worked for. In peace and love,
There is a book, “Active Hope”, about moving forward in turbulent times. An exercise it gives for developing gratitude is to complete this sentence: “One person who helped me believe in myself is ________”.
The answer for me is Lynne Fischer. Besides doing good work herself, she helped me – and others, I am sure – feel encouraged to stay with the struggle and do my best for progressive change.
What a great heart!
This would make Lynne smile and oh how I miss her smile. Dan Fischer
I am so sorry to hear that Lynn is no longer with us. I echo the tributes that have been shared here but I also remember Lynne as a person who was very focused. She came prepared with ideas and spreadsheets and spoke with clarity. She brought the many skills acquired over her all too short life to bear on issues that she cared about.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about Lynne here. I could never do justice to her actual legacy, since there are not enough words, or just no words to properly describe how wonderful it was she made people feel and how she inspired me personally.
Lynne was not only a beautiful person with a huge heart, she used that heart and passion for good. Her fearless advocacy drove her to the dirt paths and sidewalks of Santa Fe and hallways of the Legislature, always with notes or a clipboard in hand. Lynne wanted to know her issues and pursued what she believed in with a whole heart. She fought for what she believed in with grace and poise, never ceasing to being the one to confront issues herself, do all that was required to challenge powers that be, and be the change she wanted to see in the world. Lynne will be greatly missed for all that she fiercely fought for in our community and participated actively in what was possible. I am so grateful for her support and faith in me. I will dedicate my service this 2020 Legislative Session to her memory and will continue to try to emulate all that she embodied in her acts of service. Rest well, dear Friend.
My sincere condolences to the entire Retake family, and the family and friends of Lynne.
So sorry to hear of Lynne’s passing. I worked with her at Lore International and Korn Ferry. She was a wonderful woman.
Deeply shocked to learn that Lynne, so very alive, is not here. Heartfelt sympathy to all her dear ones.
Best to you Lynne however you are!