Raised in Louisville, Jana attended Kentucky Country Day School before leaving for Princeton University to study French, political science and pre-law at the University of Strasbourg, France. Later, upon receiving a law degree at Vanderbilt University, Jana worked as an attorney with Stites and Harbison. Since retiring from law, Jana has raised a family and became an accomplished portrait artist. She is also passionate about gardening, not only at her home but also as a garden show participant and as a floral design judge who travels around the country with the GCA in Conservation and National Affairs and Legislation, and has been very active in Washington, DC on their behalf for the past seven years.
nature.org: When did you first gain an appreciation for nature?
Jana Dowds: As a serious gardener for 20 years, I have gained a great appreciation for trees and plants while working on projects ranging from small plots to extensive landscape designs. Over the years my horticulture interest and knowledge has emerged from planting shrubs, perennials, bulbs, many trees and an orchard at my home.
nature.org: How did you become acquainted with The Nature Conservancy?
Jana Dowds: First through my friend, Susan Lavin, who is also a Kentucky Chapter trustee. Later, I grew to know the organization through my involvement with the GCA. The GCA always has TNC speakers at their national conference. As a result, they had been on my radar for some time.
nature.org: What conservation issues are of most concern to you?
Jana Dowds: Clean air and clean water are issues that concern me most. That is why I am a strong supporter of initiatives like the Green Heart Project—a landmark study that is employing hard science to examine the link between green spaces and human health in urban areas. In fact, the Green Heart Project is one of the reasons why I joined TNC’s board. It represents an opportunity to influence, at a national level, how people think about conserving nature. Most people think that health is more important than the environment. It would be paradigm-shifting to provide evidence that they are connected.
nature.org: What do you consider the Kentucky Chapter’s proudest accomplishment during your time on the board?
Jana Dowds: I am most proud of TNC’s involvement as a partner in the Green Heart Project. I have also been impressed with their handling of removing a defunct dam from the Green River to illustrate how a free-flowing river can benefit wildlife and recreation. I plan to dedicate time to promoting this work around the country in an effort to engage people and support for the mission.
nature.org: What are your long-term aspirations for the Kentucky Chapter?
Jana Dowds: I think TNC’s Kentucky Chapter is doing a great job—from improving the flow of the Green River, to expanding into urban areas and generally improving the quality of life for all Kentuckians. To date, no one has put a number on what nature does for us. My hope is that, together with our partners, TNC can achieve this in order to benefit the land, air and water we all rely on for survival.
nature.org: What gives you hope?
Jana Dowds: I need look no further than TNC’s excellent staff in Kentucky. These talented men and women also receive significant support from colleagues at the national level and around the country. It is one of the reasons why the organization is so effective.
A Place I Love:
Jana Dowds prefers to connect with nature at home, in her own own garden and it’s different areas—from the orchard to the peony beds. Beyond her property, she also enjoys going to the Parklands of Floyds Fork. She shares, “It is a beautiful natural setting where you have an opportunity to get outdoors and experience many different areas and experiences all in one place.”