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A Life Defined by Passion and Courage

The most unlikely of domestic violence victims, Jana Mackey, was found dead in her ex-boyfriend’s home on July 3, 2008.  The 25 year old 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 and Mom at the Kansas Women's Leadership Conference - 2008

Jana in Washington D.C. with other Marchers - 2004

Over the last six years, Jana’s 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 political campaigns for female canadiates, and she actively participated in the Kansas Commission on the Status of Women. From 2004-2006 Jana served as a lobbyist at the Kansas State Capitol where she represented Kansas chapter of the National Orginazation 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 important to women.  In describing her work at the Kansas State Capitol, David Klepper from the Kansas City Star wrote, “She was often on the losing side, but she never lost heart.”  Finally, Jana’s short career included three years of volunteerism at the GaDuGi Safe Center. Here 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.

Kelli Brandt with Jana - 2006

Stephanie Mott with Jana in 2007

"If what it takes to go far is good food, good beer and good friends - then this is about as far as we're going to go."
-Steph and Jana

While Jana went through her adult life driven and on a clear mission, she also found time to truly enjoy each day.  With an incredibly close and loyal “inner circle,” Jana found kindred spirits who believed in good beer, good life, and making a difference.  A beautiful woman with a warm, inviting smile, Jana drew people to her.  She would give anyone a chance, would do anything to help a friend.  Because of her welcoming nature, her group of “porch pals,” who would sit on the porch at her house and talk about all the details of life, grew steadily.  That’s just the way Jana was.  Once you met her, you wanted to know her.  Once you knew her, you loved her.

Jana Lynne Mackey was the kind of woman that inspired others.  She inspired through her words, her song, her actions.  Jana was beautiful, intelligent and kind.  She was an advocate, a friend, a sister, a daughter.  Jana was the kind of woman that would never miss an opportunity to inspire you to create social change.  She was magnetic.  She was a bright spot in an ordinary day.  She was a hero.

Jana’s spirit glowed with the light of 1100 torches. 
It’s time to return the favor.

Jana Speaks at the Kansas Commission on the Status of Women - 2004


2004 Women's March on Washington

2004 Women'sMarch on Washington Video



“Jana Mackey was the kind of woman that people called a ‘pistol,’ ‘spitfire,’ or ‘firecracker.’  She was the kind of woman we all dreamed of being when we were young, like Wonder Woman, but with more appropriate hair and wardrobe.  She was the kind of woman that would feel equally comfortable in a courtroom and in a bar.  She was six foot tall and wore heels every day.  Jana was a rebel.  Jana was an advocate.  Jana was a hero.”

~Kelley Parker

Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
Kansas Coalition Against
Sexual and Domestic Violence

       KU Law
KU Gender Studies

Kansas Now




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