Durham Center of Innovation to ADAPT
Liz Mahanna Service Award
Elizabeth Page "Lizzie" Mahanna
September 30, 1966 - January 16, 2022
Elizabeth Page “Lizzie” Mahanna lived an extraordinary life. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on September 30, 1966, to Peter and Gay Mahanna and her sister Jill. After high school, she entered the Air Force and served her country until 1989, when she was honorably discharged from service as a sergeant and entered college at Duke University. This service in the Air Force awakened a desire in her to serve veterans and improve their lives and the resources available to them.
As an undergraduate at Duke, Lizzie discovered the sport of Ultimate, and she helped to found multiple women’s and co-ed teams over her long career as an elite player in Durham, NC, winning a national championship along the way. She met and made life-long friends who strived to keep up with her unmatchable athletic skill. She was known for her grueling workouts and training. At her job at the Veteran’s Administration, she created a work-out club but was not allowed to keep the time for different exercises as she would inevitably add seconds to the clock to challenge her coworkers to “feel the burn.”
In 1996, she married Augie Kreivenas. Their son Griffin arrived in 2001 and daughter Sky in 2004. Being a mother was the greatest joy of Lizzie’s life, and she poured her talents and love into raising her kids, teaching them the importance of plants, healthful foods, exercise, and knowing and loving the natural world around them.
Lizzie loved rock-climbing, and some of her happiest times are those she spent with her climbing friends all over the state of NC—New River Gorge, Pilot Mountain, and Moores Wall—and in Colorado and California, too. She loved and cultivated beauty around her with bold colors and beautiful art—jewelry and mosaics that she and her best friend, Dr. Katherine Bliss (“Bliss”), made as well as pottery, plants, and paintings by local and regional artists. In 2000, she and Bliss founded an annual art show fund-raiser, MomArt, which featured more than 100 local artists and raised money for a different non-profit each year.
But Lizzie’s most cherished artist was her beloved sister, whose colorful and bold landscapes adorn every wall in her home.
Lizzie was an accomplished Master Gardener and installed wild perennial and pollinator gardens first at her home on Alabama Avenue and then at her home on Sprunt Avenue. Her command of the names of plants—particularly native plants—was encyclopedic, and she wasn’t afraid to slip in a gentle correction if you got a name wrong.
Lizzie completed her BA in Psychology and History in 1993 at Duke and her Master’s in Public Health at UNC in 2008. She has published numerous articles in the fields of breast cancer research, public health and nutrition, and veterans’ health outcomes, among many other topics. She was highly regarded by her work peers both for her meticulous attention to detail and rigorous research and also for her relentless dedication to the health and well-being of all those she encountered. She created exercise clubs, coffee clubs, and recycling programs, and was sometimes spied at work sorting recyclables out of the trash can and into the bin.
Lizzie cut a colorful and wide swath in the world, despite her quiet and unassuming nature. Her laugh was infectious. She will be deeply missed by all whose lives she touched and most keenly by those who had the great good fortune to be loved by her.