On July 3, 2008, Jana Mackey lost her life to violence perpetrated by an ex-boyfriend in Lawrence, Kansas. The 25-year-old KU law student was an advocate for women’s rights and had spent years volunteering to aid victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Jana represented the new generation of American feminists. As a passionate social and women’s activist, Jana fought for equality and social justice at every turn.
Jana’s young life was filled with examples of a young successful activist. As an undergraduate Women’s Studies student she organized the Kansas delegation of Kansas women who marched on Washington D.C. in 2004. She served as a staff member on both state and national campaigns for female candidates. She actively participated in the Kansas Commission on the Status of Women and from 2004-2006 Jana served as a lobbyist at the Kansas State Capitol, where she represented the Kansas National Organization for Women.
Despite being one of the youngest lobbyists in the State Capitol, she effectively promoted a pro-women’s agenda. Time and time again, Jana showed her courage and her ability as a skilled negotiator fighting for issues most important to women. Finally, Jana’s short career included six years of volunteerism at the GaDuGi Safe Center. There Jana was described as “honey on steel” working to reduce all forms of sexual violence against women.
In March of 2008, Jana attended a Women’s Leadership Conference, where she was asked to prioritize her top personal values. Jana identified her most important value as “equality for all persons,” and her second most important as “the courage to stand up for her own beliefs.” Jana ‘walked’ her values. With these values, coupled with her years of activism, lobbying and political experience, Jana believed that a law degree was the next step in her journey to become the most effective advocate possible for women and other underrepresented groups.
“Jana Mackey was to the United States and Kansas Constitutions as light is to stained glass. She was intelligent, strong and a courageous advocate, fearless in her pursuit of freedom, justice and equality for all. Jana took the lofty principles found in our constitutions and worked hard to insure their protection and application. She was a remarkable young woman.”
– Pedro Luis Irigonegaray
“You left us too soon, but you also left a legacy that few of your young age could claim. We are all challenged to carry on your dedication to peace, love, and justice. Know that you are missed, and that your life made a difference.”
– Bill Woodward
“I’ve never met a person more excited to experience the world or more dedicated to changing it.”
– Trish Schroeder
In Her Honor
In honor of Jana Mackey, her childhood church, Trinity Lutheran Church of Hays, Kansas, has developed Jana’s Closet for women in need. The purpose of Jana’s Closet is to provide free, gently used professional women’s clothing for women looking to enter or re-enter the job market.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius proclaims March 8, 2009 as “Jana Mackey Day in Kansas” and calls on all Kansans to serve.
On March 5th & 9th, 2009, the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House of Representatives honored Jana and called on Kansans to join the 1100 Torches Campaign..
Kansas NOW has created the Jana Mackey Action Fund to provide resources for public policy and lobbying efforts with the Kansas legislature.
In recognition of International Women’s Day and the 2009 Proclamation of Jana Mackey Day in Kansas, Jana’s family and friends set aside a day of service every year in March. “Jana Mackey Day of Service” volunteers provide community service in both Hays and Lawrence, Kansas on issues related to gender-based violence.
Darrell Hamlin is collaborating with Christie and Curt Brungardt to write a manuscript about Jana’s life and her legacy. Share your stories about Jana or how her legacy has moved you.
The Jana Mackey Support for Public Advocacy Fund at the University of Kansas Law School is used to provide stipends to law students who work in public interest organizations. Several Jana Mackey fellows are selected each summer.