It is with deepest sadness in our hearts that we announce that Dr. Heather Lazrus passed away on Sunday, February 26th, 2023.
Heather did more than almost anyone is aware of. She was a mother, partner, friend, scholar, adventurer, social justice advocate, scientist, matchmaker, and intellectual, involved in the creation of many relationships, ideas, and movements that will long continue to grow, but that will be diminished without her light.
As an example of her vast reach, Heather co-founded and co-led The Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This grew into a large network that created not only a multi-cultural bridge and interconnected space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and scholars, but also a family.
She was an author on Changing the Atmosphere: Anthropology and Climate Change. American Anthropological Association Climate Change Task Force Report and over 100 scientific articles, book chapters, and invited works.
She was a lead investigator on the current $20 million NSF Coastlines and People program-funded Rising Voices, Changing Coasts: The National Indigenous and Earth Sciences Convergence Hub (the project is led by the Haskell Foundation, which serves Haskell Indian Nations University).
Heather’s writings are among the most cited of all environmental anthropologists. She was a trailblazer among scientists centering culture and equity in the study of the lived experiences of climate change. She was also an early advocate for decolonized pedagogy and research; and she was not once arrogant or self-congratulatory about her fight for justice. She uplifted others in this work, often supporting in the shadows, rather than taking the spotlight.
She did much of this work while she was treating cancer, raising a beautiful son, and replying to any call, email, or text from a friend in need.
Heather, of course, is so much more than her academic accomplishments. She fought always for what is right. She was funny. She led with her heart. She believed that the world could become a better place. She was patient with people who needed more time to understand what it means to create a just world. She built seemingly impossible bridges. She was a spiritual guide to many of us, with a deep wisdom far beyond her years.
Heather is among the ancestors now; she remains a beacon in dark times and a confidant to the many of us who still need her. We believe she is still close to the work she leaves behind, and close to the circle of people and all relations that will carry her legacy forward.
It is our great honor to be her friend and colleague; and we will be inspired by her for our whole lives to come.
Julie Maldonado, Elizabeth Marino, Shannon McNeeley, and Courtney Carothers