About the Christi Center

We offer hope after the death of a loved one by providing support networks, community education and therapeutic activities that are free, peer-based, and ongoing.

Our Mission

We offer hope after the death of a loved one by providing support networks, community education and therapeutic activities that are free, peer-based, and ongoing.

Our Core Values

To provide grief support at no charge to grieving families for as long as they need it

To educate and increase community awareness on issues facing the bereaved

To build community partnerships to better support grieving people

To preserve a diverse and sustainable base of volunteer and financial support to ensure that the Center’s services will always be available for those in need

Who We Serve

Any child, teen, or adult who is grieving the death of a loved one.  We partner with schools, criminal justice agencies, civic and service organizations, businesses, churches and other community groups. We cross-refer with over 150 community agencies to ensure that we can meet the broad range of needs grieving families may have.  Our services are open and available to Austin and all of Central Texas, with group locations across the Austin area and in Williamson County.

Read the Christi Center's 2021 Annual Report

In our 2021 Annual Report, you will read the stories and examples of the life-changing work led by the Christi Center's staff, board members, and volunteers. In 2021, the Christi Center supported 13,275 members to ensure that no one in Central Texas has to grieve alone.

Our Story

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The Christi Center is named after Christi Lanahan, a UT Junior and Westlake High alumna who was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 1985. For her mom and stepdad, Susan and Don Cox, life was permanently altered in an instant. In a state of shock and consumed with grief, they found few community resources to support grieving families. Drowning in grief and facing great personal and marital challenges, the Coxes and Christi’s brother, Sean Lanahan decided to reach out to others instead of retreating. On the two-year anniversary of Christi’s death, they founded the nonprofit “For the Love of Christi”, with a mission to provide free, ongoing grief support to Central Texans who have experienced a loss of a loved one.

At the heart of the organization is the Center’s peer-based grief support group model, which “normalizes” the grief experience by connecting the bereaved with others who have experienced losses of a similar nature, showing them that hope is possible after loss.  The Center serves children, teens, and adults. Now called the Christi Center, the organization provides support groups throughout the life cycle to build well-being and help our community members reach their full potential. Other services include:

  • Community education so that we are all better equipped to help the grieving people in our lives
  • Activities designed to build lasting memories and increase the toolkit for coping with life without a loved one
  • An innovative schools-based program that connects our community’s youngest grievers with trained volunteers for individual counseling

We have over 30 years of experience providing love, hope, comfort and support to people of all ages in a warm and welcoming environment. All of us need a sturdy foundation to weather life’s storms and layers of support in our lives to truly thrive.

Meet Our Founders

All you have to do is enter the front door of the Christi Center to experience first-hand the warm and caring compassion that defines the Christi Center.

Susan and Don Cox created the Christi Center out of horrific loss. Their selfless commitment to helping others grieve deeply touches everyone who reaches out to the Center seeking support and comfort from others who know grief.

In 1985, their bright and beautiful 20-year old daughter Christi Lanahan was a junior at the University of Texas in Austin when she was killed by a drunk driver. In a state of shock and consumed with grief, they found few community resources to support grieving families. Drowning in grief and facing great personal and marital challenges, the Coxes (along with Christi’s brother, Sean) decided to reach out to others instead of retreating.

Two years later, Susan and Don created For the Love of Christi, known now as the Christi Center. They guided the establishment of a one-of-a-kind grief center where love is at the heart of all we do with an unconditional acceptance of all who ask for help.

In the early years of the organization, Susan and Don organized grief support groups at various locations around Austin, eventually acquiring the property on Hancock Drive where the Christi Center currently stands. With the help of friends and supporters, they added an annex designed to accommodate more people and larger support group sessions, and later, a family building to provide dedicated space for children/teens and additional staff offices. Under Susan and Don’s leadership, these buildings were completed with full community support and the Christi Center owns these buildings debt-free. In 2010, the Christi Center expanded to Williamson County with a satellite location in Georgetown.

The Cox’s decision to offer grief services free of charge emerged from the example of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who operated hospitals, schools and orphanages for the poorest of the poor.

Over the years, the community of staff, volunteers, and supporters Susan and Don brought together have served well over 100,000 people who seek help in a time of loss. Now retired from day-to-day operations, Susan and Don continue to volunteer as group facilitators, serve on the Board, and give generously of their time and resources. The Christi Center is their legacy to our community.

"Can you imagine someone applying for a job to work in the grief area? They put their heart and soul into being here. Their reward comes when, in the midst of grief, they hear the unexpected and welcome sound of laughter, reminding all that after the grief, comes healing and hope."

– Don Cox, Co-Founder

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Our Staff

Jennifer Edwards Headshot 2021

Jennifer Edwards
Executive Director

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Jocelyn Chamra-Barrera, LCSW
Director of Programs and Clinical Services

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Erin Spalding, LCSW-S
Director of Clinical Education

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Cathy Collins
Crime Victim Advocate

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Christi Neville, LPC
Peer Support Coordinator

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Heather Stan, LMSW
Children's Program Coordinator

Deroald Hopkins
Operations & Finance Coordinator

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James Salas
Communications Coordinator

about-testimonial

"Grief is expensive. The individual therapy for my family is hundreds every month during this acute phase. My son died only 5 months ago. It is so painful that not only did I lose my son, but I’m also having to pay for his last days in the hospital and for so much therapy dealing with losing him. So having this free, no financial pressure environment gives my family tremendous relief."

– Anonymous Client

Board Members

Mike Twomey, President
Theresa Golde, Vice President
Elliott Hendrix, Treasurer
Charles Moore, Secretary
Jeffrey Richard, Immediate Past President
Don Cox, Co-Founder
Susan Cox, Co-Founder
Kyle McFather
Julio Mendoza-Quiroz
Dianna Groves
Fred Patrizi, Ph.D.
Maureen Patrizi
Brooks Slaughter
Rev. Roy Jones
David Flores

Financials