By Cara Fleischer, Special to the Democrat
Jana McConnaughhay is a successful lawyer, an active mom, and an engaged volunteer who is willing to speak up when she sees a need. She started her own elder law firm, Waldoch & McConnaughhay, 10 years ago, and says assisting clients with wills, trusts, and long-term care options has been a rewarding career.
“I love what I do because I get to meet the most interesting people every day, who have taught me so much about parenting and life,” she said. “They’ve shown me that at the end of their days, their family, whether made up of relatives or close friends, is everything.”
A Tallahassee native and Leon High School alum, McConnaughhay went on to receive a B.A. in Accounting from Furman University and a law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law. She currently serves on the Florida Bar Joint Public Policy Task Force for the Elderly and Disabled, is on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation of North Florida, the Leon High School Foundation, and the Stacey Webb Arts Foundation. In 2016, she was named one of Florida’s Legal Elite by Florida Trend, a Florida Super Lawyer, and was selected as Member of the Year by the Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar.
She and her husband, Chad, have two teenagers and are active volunteers in their children’s schools. She helps others by spending time with a first-grader as a Ruediger Elementary Reading Pal and co-leads the Sweet Dreams bedding ministry at Killearn United Methodist Church.
She is grateful for her close circle of friends who support and champion each other. While having dinner with one of those friends and local attorney, Corinne Porcher, they talked about early high school start times, and the study linking them with teen obesity, depression, and poor performance in school. With Leon County high schools starting at 7:30 a.m., a full hour earlier than the study recommended, McConnaughhay and Porcher were concerned about their own children and decided to take action.
“We were just two friends who said ‘someone should speak up about this, so why not us?'” McConnaughhay remembered. “We wrote an op-ed, sent it to the Tallahassee Democrat, and it took off.” The women were astounded by the response and agreed to serve on a new committee dedicated to the school start time issue. After receiving community feedback, the committee proposed an optional later start time that the school board voted in favor to implement for the 2016/17 school year.
“It gives families an option to start later,” McConnaughhay said. “My son actually doesn’t use the later start time because he doesn’t want to give up an extracurricular, but my daughter plans to use it when she goes to high school next year since she needs every extra minute of sleep. It really depends on the student.”
As a working mom, McConnaughhay makes spending time with her husband and kids, as well as their large extended family, a priority.
“As women, we want to do it all. We want to help every cause, but we have to say no sometimes,” McConnaughhay said. “I’ve learned to keep my focus on my family because I can’t get these years back.”
From Tallahassee Democrat