Kathy Rose-Mockry
Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity

Anti-human-trafficking advocate to present 2014 Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture

Tue, 04/29/2014

LAWRENCE — Almost six years after the death of Jana Mackey, a former student and women’s rights activist, the University of Kansas community will join together once again for a lecture series dedicated in her honor. Urmi Basu, an advocate nationally recognized for her work on human trafficking and gender rights, will speak at the sixth-annual Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture Series. The event will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 30at in the Kansas Union Ballroom.

Basu is a native of Kolkata and founder of New Light, a secular community development project in India that provides education and shelter to girls and women at high risk of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. Her work was recently featured on PBS as part of the Half the Sky Movement, a transmedia project that raises awareness and takes action to end global oppression of women and girls. Introducing Basu will be Jennifer Rapp, deputy director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in the Victim Services Division of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

“We are very lucky to host Urmi Basu for this year’s lecture series,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, director of the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity. “Basu is a well-known activist in women’s rights and human trafficking issues and an engaging speaker on advocacy efforts. She is a perfect speaker for this year’s lecture due to recent campus efforts to research human trafficking.”

Basu’s work complements the efforts of Hannah Britton and KU’s Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative, a program designed to collect empirical data on trafficking to help citizens and decision-makers understand its causes and consequences. Britton, an associate professor of political science and women, gender and sexuality studies, founded the initiative, which works to research, teach and advocate on the growing issue of human trafficking.

Basu’s commitment to others reflects the university’s emphasis on global awareness and civic engagement as well as Mackey’s passion for service and action. After receiving a degree in women’s studies, Mackey served as a lobbyist for the Kansas National Organization for Women from 2004 to 2006. She then returned to KU to pursue a law degree. In 2008, at the age of 25, Mackey was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

Lawrence and the campus community honor this exceptional young woman, who dedicated her short life to the pursuit of equality for all, with an annual lecture designed to raise awareness and engage students in issues central to Mackey – dismantling structures and norms that perpetuate sexual violence, promoting equity for women, and promoting activism and empowerment. Basu’s work to educate at-risk women and girls embodies Mackey’s passion for women’s issues, her determination to bring about change and her efforts to engage others to join her in these efforts.

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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. #KUworks
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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