Feminist activist Grace Rebecca Mann, a 20-year-old University of Mary Washington student, was killed in her home on Friday.
Grace was found unconscious by her two female roommates on Friday, one of whom called 911 and attempted to administer CPR. She was pronounced dead upon being taken to the hospital. Police have charged one of her other roommates, Steven Vander Briel, a fellow student, with first-degree murder and abduction. He is currently being held without bond.
Grace was a junior studying history, American studies and practical ethics, was a leader and activist on the Mary Washington Campus. She served on the executive board for Feminists United, in the student government senate, and recently was appointed to the President’s Task Force on Sexual Assault, a group Mary Washington President Richard Hurley created in part because of the efforts by Feminists United to combat sexual assault and rape culture on campus. She was passionate about women’s rights, civil rights, and gender equality.She was an outstanding and inspiring leader.
“As an individual, she worked with administration to create better sexual assault policies on campus,” said Paige McKinsey, Grace’s friend and the President of Feminists United. “As publicity chair of Feminists United, Grace helped plan events such as Take Back the Night. As an American Studies major, Grace focused her studies on the mass incarceration rates of underprivileged communities with hopes of becoming a lawyer to one day serve those communities. As a friend, Grace brought love and joy into every interaction and every person she came across.”
“The entire Feminist Majority Foundation community mourns the tragic loss of Grace Mann,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “In life, she inspired all of us in the fight for equality and against senseless violence. In her memory, we will renew and strengthen the struggle to end violence against women.”
“The loss of Grace Mann is such a tragedy to the feminist community,” said Feminist Majority Foundation National Campus Organizer Alyssa Seidorf. “My thoughts are with Feminists United and her friends and family. Feminist Majority Foundation promises to continue the work she loved and ensure her efforts to make the world a better place are never forgotten.”
Edwith Theogene, also a National Campus organizer for FMF, added, “I am constantly inspired by students and the work they do to change the world around them. Grace Mann was one such student. She was a dedicated feminist who called out injustice and worked ardently alongside Feminists United. Her light carries on with all of us as we continue to do this work.”
A celebration of her life will be held at the University of Mary Washington campus on Friday at noon. Hundreds attrended her funeral today. President Hurley said in an email to students and staff that Grace “was a wonderful, well-spoken, genuine person who sparkled with energy and lit up the room when she walked in.”
Media Resources: Fredericksburg 4/19/15; NBC 4 Washington 4/21/15;