Georgiann Lyga is a woman of many
talents. Her skills as a community organizer and her fluency in
Spanish have led to a life of service in many nations.
Georgia was born and bred in a small town in Wisconsin, a
state which abolished the death penalty in the 1800s. Georgia is a woman of many
talents, whose skills as a community organizer as well as her fluency in
Spanish, have led to a life of service in many nations, from South America to
Central America, and throughout California.
As a young woman Georgia joined the Maryknoll Sisters and
in the mid 1960's worked in Santiago, Chile with the "Centros de Madres," where
poor women were taught the skills they needed to become effective agents for
change in their neighborhoods. Georgia left the Maryknolls before final vows,
but continued working among poor Latino families in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and
later in San Francisco's Mission District.
After she married, Georgia went back to school and
received her BA from UC Santa Cruz and had two daughters, Elena and Sara. After
a few years working with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union, Georgia
and her family eventually settled in Sacramento. Georgia became a single parent
and was hired in 1983 as Director of the Social Justice Ministry for the
Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. She was a natural in that position, throwing
herself into a wide variety of worthwhile causes, including the movement to
abolish the death penalty.
Protests surrounding the execution of Robert Alton Harris
in 1992, led to the formation of the Sacramento Area Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty and the now famous "noon hour witness," which Georgia established
as an ongoing protest to the Harris execution. At Georgia's suggestion, the
one-hour vigil at the Capitol on every third Monday of the month has continued
without fail for over 13 years, since Harris's execution on the third Monday in
In addition to the noon hour protests, Georgia leads the
candlelight vigils at our Capitol when a California execution takes place.
Georgia was responsible for bringing Sister Helen Prejean to Sacramento, long
before the movie Dead Man Walking was released, and for bringing the "Journey of
Hope" to Sacramento in 1995, the annual speaking tour of Murder Victims'
Families for Reconciliation. Georgia speaks regularly at schools and churches
about her opposition to the death penalty and is regarded as Sacramento's
original abolitionist leader.
Georgia turns 70 next month [July, 2005] and will soon
move to southern California, but the noon-hour vigils will continue each month
along with the continuing work of the Sacramento Chapter of Death Penalty