MacKenzie covers the Des Moines area for The Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. She’s a Midwestern, globally-minded journalist who speaks fluent Spanish and keeps a tent and sleeping bag in the trunk of her car, in the event she finds a good camping spot.
Follow her on twitter @mckelmer or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MacKenzie, known as “Mack” to her colleagues and teammates, strives to one day permanently devote her pen to investigating energy and environment issues.
For one of her best stories in the Register, she uncovered that the Iowa Insurance Division is ignoring state law that would otherwise prevent convicted felons from becoming licensed bail bondsmen. The results of the oversight have been deadly.
MacKenzie spent weeks compiling enough public records to detail the affair behind the and eventual murder-suicide of a troubled ex-Des Moines cop and his secret girlfriend. The series shed light on advocate’s concerns that Iowa’s domestic abuse law fails to provide enough protections for partners in dating relationships.
Without her Spanish-skills, the story of a Des Moines man who fought to keep his brother from being deported back to Mexico might have gone unnoticed. Constantino Morales Roque was eventually murdered, his family says, by cartel members though local Iowans fought to get him asylum.
MacKenzie previously covered education and health at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, winning two investigative journalism awards for a series on mental health. Before that, she roamed the halls of the Iowa State Capitol covering the 2013 legislative session for the for The Associated Press.
She got her first professional journalism job at The Burlington Hawk Eye, reporting on the highly-controversial construction of a fertilizer plant by Egypt-based Orascom near the tiny town of Wever, Iowa. She left after four months to join The Associated Press, but not before publishing an investigation into a county narcotic’s task force and sale of seized goods over Ebay to cushion its budget.
During her college career at the University of Iowa, she worked as web manager and staff writer for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism. At IowaWatch, she wrote multiple long-form investigative pieces that underwent a grueling fact-checking process that has made her obsessive about accuracy.
While at IowaWatch, she spent a month following an HIV patient to show how Iowa’s now-reformed HIV criminal law stigmatized those struggling with the disease. She also wrote in-depth pieces on radon mitigation legislation and wrote a statewide piece for a national story with the Investigative News Network on the EPA’s Brownfields program.
She interned at two publications in Madrid, Spain and learned fluent Spanish there. While working for El País, she covered a demonstration by the 15M protestors and their scuffle with the police preceding the march.