Mandy Marie Jenkins, 42, died February 26 in Zanesville after nearly four years of cancer treatment.
Jenkins was born August 16, 1980 in Aurora, Col., to Roddy Jenkins and Anita Clark. She was raised in Zanesville and graduated from West Muskingum High School in 1998. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Kent State, where she met her future husband, Ben Fischer.
Jenkins spent more than two decades as a journalist and newsroom leader. At the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mahoning Matters and other news outlets, she helped newsrooms adapt for the digital age, developing strategies for online news presentation, finding new audiences with social media, and using the internet for reporting.
A beloved mentor and editor, Jenkins served eight years on the board of the Online News Association (including two years as board president) and played a key role in creating the nonprofit’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator.
In 2016, Jenkins became head of news and later editor-in-chief at Storyful, a company that other news outlets hire to verify the accuracy of viral videos and breaking news reports. She oversaw a team spread across Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong and the U.S. In 2018, Jenkins was selected for the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.
Karen Workman, a Jenkins protégé and now a deputy politics editor for the New York Times, called Jenkins “The type of person you could listen to talk for hours, and walk away feeling smarter and more confident in yourself.”
Workman described Jenkins as having a “clear-eyed view of the world and its people, uninfluenced by groupthink” with an “uncanny ability to captivate a room, whether it was 30 people or 300.”
At Kent State, Jenkins was cofounder of Fusion, the campus’ LGBTQ issues magazine that is still in circulation. She was a lifelong advocate for the dignity and full legal rights of all sexual minorities.
Jenkins met Fischer on staff at the Daily Kent Stater; they married in August 2008. Jenkins was known for joking that “I like journalists so much, I married one.” The two were champions of one another’s professional ambitions and sports teams, and enjoyed traveling, trying new beers, hiking and biking together.
A New York City resident for most of the past decade, Jenkins had a diverse circle of friends and loved introducing friends to her favorite bars and restaurants. She worked out religiously, joined frequent beach trips and bar outings, and hosted a large annual holiday party at her home in Brooklyn. She also traveled extensively, visiting at least 35 countries and all 50 states. Her most notable trips include the Olympics in Brazil and South Korea, hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, a safari in Kenya, and trips to Russia, Latvia, Egypt and India to train fellow journalists.
Throughout her life, Jenkins loved to consume, analyze and debate pop culture. She was a 20 year-plus subscriber to “Entertainment Weekly,” and a reader of every Stephen King novel. She believed Fleetwood Mac was always the right choice, Scully was a secret alcoholic, Han shot first and Magneto was right.
Friends and coworkers praised Jenkins’ enthusiasm for helping their careers, a trait inspired in her by her own mentor, Steve Buttry.
“When I took a blind leap out of the newspaper business with zero safety net, she caught me — offering to connect me with opportunities if they came up,” said fellow Kent State alumna Melissa Ramaley. “It was such an honor to have THE Mandy Jenkins in my corner.”
Razan Ibraheem, a journalist in Ireland who left her birth country of Syria in 2011, said she will always be grateful for Jenkins’ role in her new life as a war refugee.
“I will never forget the first time I met her. She interviewed me and gave me the opportunity of my life,” Ibraheem said. “She made me.”
Jenkins is survived by her husband Ben, her parents Roddy Jenkins and Anita and Ray Clark, her brother, Andrew Clark, many cousins, aunts and uncles, her father-in-law Orvie Fischer, and her two beloved cats, Franklin and Eleanor.
She was preceded in death by her paternal grandparents, Dick and Joyce Jenkins, her maternal grandparents, Donald and Garnet Hampp, and her mother-in-law Sue Fischer.
During her long cancer journey, dozens of friends in New York, Ohio and across the world provided invaluable practical and emotional support to Jenkins and her family.
A memorial service will be held at 1 pm on Sunday, March 5 at Meadow Farm Church, 6015 Coopermill Road, Zanesville. Friends are also planning a celebration of life in New York City in the coming months. Memorial donations can be made to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation via GoFundMe, https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-mandy-return-home-to-ohio. Jenkins donated her body to the Ohio State College of Medicine for research.