In Memory of CCL Founder
Marshall Saunders

Marshall Saunders exemplified the notion of being the change you wish to see in the world. Always kind, always generous, and leading with love, he took it a step further, empowering tens of thousands to be the change. He provided not just hope and inspiration, not just practical skills and training, but an opportunity for transformation. His spirit and love will continue to live in all of us.

On Saturday, January 25th at 1:00 Pacific Time, a memorial service was held and archived here, from St. Pauls Methodist Church in Coronado, CA.

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About Marshall

Marshall Saunders’ professional career was real estate brokerage specializing in shopping center development and leasing. When he became alarmed about the changing climate in 2006, Marshall began giving talks about global warming to service clubs, high schools, universities, and whoever else would listen.

However, at the end of each talk, he felt that the solutions he offered were not a match for the problem. Marshall realized that anything his listeners intended to do as individuals was totally swamped by public policy, by what the government did or didn’t do. While he suggested ways for people to reduce their use of carbon, Congress extended a law that gave $18 billion in subsidies to oil and coal companies.

It seemed to Marshall that Congress was doing things exactly backwards. Why? Because it’s dominated by special interests, in this case, the fossil fuel industry. In his heart, he knew something else was at play: Ordinary people were not asking their members of Congress for anything regarding climate change, not in an organized and effective way. Furthermore, they didn’t know what to do or how to do it, nor did they have self-confidence and support they needed.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s purpose is to change all that by empowering individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power and by gaining the tools to be effective with our government. And how did Marshall know anything about that? He had been lobbying Congress as a volunteer with RESULTS for 17 years. RESULTS creates the political will for the end of hunger and poverty.

Marshall saw that people who are concerned about the climate needed that same training. He couldn’t find a place where people could go to learn it, so on October 6, 2007, he started Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Now, CCL has hundreds of chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as Australia, Europe, Central America, Asia and Africa. Marshall founded Citizens’ Climate Lobby to help you create the political will for a livable world, and CCL still carries on his vision to this day.


WE ARE THE CAVALRY Marshall's We Are the Cavalry speech at the 2013 CCL National Conference.

CCL's Origin Story Marshall Saunders shares the story of the origins of Citizens' Climate Lobby

Marshall's first lobby meeting Marshall's hilarious and poignant retelling of his first lobby meeting.

You Give Hope Marshall's talk at the 2014 CCL National Conference.


Marshall Saunders, founder and president of the advocacy organization Citizens' Climate Lobby, passed away at his home in Coronado on December 27, 2019, at the age of 80.

Born on Feb. 27, 1939, Saunders grew up in Waco, Texas, where he played high school football and other sports. After high school graduation he would catch the Grey Hound bus for Boise, Idaho, where he would spend his college summers working for the US Forest Service; cutting trails, cleaning camp grounds and helping to prevent forest fires. He attended Baylor University and the University of Texas, earning a bachelor's degree in Economics at UT in 1961. After college, he joined the Navy, trained at the OCS, graduating as an Ensign. He was first stationed in Virginia & served on the USS Boxer. He was on active duty during the Cuban missile crisis, 1962, and later transferred to Coronado where he met the love of his life, Pamela Spence. The two were married in 1965 and raised two beloved children.

After a career in commercial property development, they launched a lifetime of active philanthropy as Marshall wanted to search for ways to make the world a better place. A leader in the community, Saunders was named Rotarian of the year in 1991 by the Coronado Rotary chapter and received the Rotarian Governor's trophy for Service Above Self in 1992-93. He also received the Rotary Foundation citation for Meritorious Service, and he spearheaded the formation of the first Rotary Club in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Also during the early 1990's, Marshall was introduced to RESULTS, an advocacy organization that works to create the political will to end hunger and poverty. Through RESULTS, he learned the power that citizens have to make a difference by effectively engaging their government. As a volunteer with RESULTS, he took part in campaigns that increased U.S. funding for child survival activities around the world, programs that would eventually save the lives of tens of millions of children.

While volunteering with RESULTS, Saunders learned about microcredit, an effective poverty-reducing strategy that uses small loans given to poor women to start or expand small businesses that lift their families out of poverty. The concept was pioneered by a Bangladeshi economist, Muhammad Yunus, who would later receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Grameen Bank.

Seeking to start his own micro-lending program in Mexico, Saunders traveled to Bangladesh to learn more about the concept from Yunus himself. In 1999, he launched Grameen de la Frontera in Mexico, which has provided small loans that has transformed the lives of thousands of poor women and their families. He was one of only six recipients of the Grameen Humanitarian Award.

After seeing the climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" in 2006, Saunders realized his work to help the poor would be wasted if a changing climate made their homes unlivable. He spent a year delivering presentations about climate change and the personal choices needed to address the problem. During that time, Congress extended a law that gave $18 billion in subsidies to oil and coal companies.

He quickly realized that the actions he was suggesting, while essential, were not a match for the problem. So in October of 2007, Saunders launched Citizens' Climate Lobby based on the successful methodology of RESULTS, to generate the political will for climate solutions by training and supporting citizens to effectively lobby their government. Since then, CCL has grown to more than 550 chapters worldwide -- 460 in the U.S. -- with 180,000 supporters. CCL was the leading advocacy group supporting the introduction this year of a bipartisan carbon-pricing bill, which now has 75 sponsors and cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.

From the outset, Saunders sought to make CCL nonpartisan in efforts to solve climate change. At a time when most climate advocates had written off Republicans in efforts to enact effective remedies, CCL trained and supported thousands of volunteers to engage GOP members of Congress as potential allies rather than adversaries. CCL’s approach of polite, appreciative and respectful advocacy paid off with the formation in 2016 of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House, which grew to 90 members by the end of 2018, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. It became the inspiration for a similar group this year in the Senate.

“To say that he made the most of his time on this earth would be an understatement,” said CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds. “In addition to being the most kind and generous person I've ever known, he was also a visionary, someone who saw the things that are broken in our world and then set out to fix them. As Buckminster Fuller once said, ‘The things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done.’ That was Marshall, doing the things that needed to be done that nobody else was doing.”

Services will be held on January 25, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Coronado and will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person from this link.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Citizens' Climate Education or to the new Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center building on the Mercy Hospital campus in San Diego, CA.

CCL Volunteers Remember