By S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - Less than a month after being hired as associate director of pro-life and family for the Nebraska Catholic Conference, Jeff Kanger is already getting his feet wet with his first Unicameral legislative session.
“Game on,” he grinned.
Public policy has always been a part of his professional duties.
An Omaha native, Kanger attended Saint Pius X/Saint Leo schools and Creighton Prep in Omaha. He attended Northwest Missouri State University, where he was active in the local Newman Center.
After working on state and local election campaigns, Kanger decided to attend law school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There he met Tom Venzor, who was a year ahead of him. He also participated in the Newman Center and joined the Thomas More Society.
After graduating December 2011, he was hired as executive vice president of First State Bank Nebraska, where governmental affairs were part of his occupation.
“I was meeting with state senators, and I took a trip or two to D.C. every year,” he said.
Moving on to the Nebraska Catholic Conference has enabled him to focus on the pro-life cause that has always been “near and dear to my heart,” he said.
As faithful Catholics, his parents had always taken their five children – all boys – to pro-life events. Kanger fondly remembers participating in the Life Chain at 72nd and Dodge in Omaha throughout his childhood.
“The message they gave us is, ‘You are doing this, regardless of your career.’”
In addition to his parents’ influence, Kanger had the profound experience of discovering that one of his college friends intended to help her sister get an abortion.
Sighing, he remembered how shocked he felt. “You go from your little Catholic incubator, and then it’s real and right in front of you.”
After much prayer and reflection, he finally gave his friend some information about resources for pregnant women so that they don’t feel the need to seek abortion. He also pledged his personal support. He prayed, and he knew his mother was praying for the young woman and her baby, too.
Much to his delight, she changed her mind and delivered a healthy baby. Kanger said he is so very grateful to the Lord for that.
“It’s not me. It’s the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Wherever I am in life, my job is to be a compassionate listener who can connect people to resources.”
With his new role, he has the opportunity to make pro-life issues his primary focus all day, every day.
His primary task is to monitor and advocate on legislation. His second is to be a resource to parishes, youth groups, Bible studies, and so on.
“I’m a boots-on-the-ground, get-out-and-talk-to-people guy,” he said. “I look forward to doing that when we get the session behind us.”