Friends have established a crowdfunding account on behalf of Houston special events manager Lisa Benitez, who unexpectedly died Saturday after a brief illness. She was 46.
A native Houstonian, Benitez graduated from Klein High School in 1986 and received a degree in fashion merchandising from the Art Institute of Houston in 1987. She joined Foley's in 1993 and, during a 14-year career, she planned many of the department store's events. She remained with the chain when Macy's purchased it in 2007, where she served as regional special events manager, coordinating and managing fashion shows, celebrity appearances, new store openings and charity events at 60 stores in three states.
"You could always count on Lisa to get things done. She always found both the bright side of any situation and a way to move forward calmly despite any setbacks or challenges."
In 2010, Benitez joined The Center for Hearing and Speech as events manager, where she planned and coordinated the Via Colori Street Painting Festival. She served as special events manager for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast earlier this year before returning to The Center for Hearing and Speech.
A fierce advocate for civil and reproductive rights, Benitez served on the Human Rights Campaign steering committee and was a founding member of Planned Parenthood Young Leaders, which established the successful Party Like A Rock Star annual fundraiser. She also served on the boards of Jane's Due Process and Brazos Abiertos.
"You could always count on Lisa to get things done. She had a relentlessly upbeat attitude no matter what came up, and always found both the bright side of any situation and a way to move forward calmly despite any setbacks or challenges," said her friend, Andrea Greer. "She was a fierce advocate on behalf of reproductive justice and LGBT equality, and an even fiercer advocate on behalf of her friends and family."
Known for her great sense of style and ability to accessorize any wardrobe, Benitez also was an expressive supporter of her beloved Houston Texans.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to raise funds to help her family pay for medical and funeral expenses as well as the care of her adored dog, Elliott Picone Benitez. Since it was established 12 hours ago, more than $6,000 has been raised toward a goal of $20,000.
A funeral service will he held on her birthday Wednesday (Dec. 31) at 10 a.m. at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1701 San Jacinto.