Alumna Named Top 25 Women You Need to Know
Some people want to see change in their environments, and others choose to actively make that change a reality. These extraordinary individuals, like Catherine ‘Cat’ Keen, believe that change cannot be achieved unless executed in a ‘structured, strategic way’ and go to great lengths to exemplify the change they wish to see within their communities.
For Keen, her desire to impact her community and make a difference globally began during her experiences as a student at Florida State University. She spent several life changing semesters abroad in developing countries like China, Vietnam, Nepal and India. Subsequent to these experiences, she held numerous positions of leadership in student led organizations on campus. Keen was determined to become an advocate for growth and change.
She earned her bachelor’s degrees in anthropology (1999) at FSU, her MSW from the FSU College of Social Work in social work policy (2005), and later earned her MBA. She began working in the human services sector in Tallahassee and statewide. For more than 16 years during her career, Keen managed programs for at-risk-youth, people experiencing homelessness, and individuals with disabilities. She advocated for an increase in such programing and managed homeless shelters, alongside ECHO, Inc.
In her current role as director of the National Service Programs (AmeriCorps) she runs Volunteer Florida and has secured $3.5 million in grants. These funds will benefit Floridians by building training programs and establishing progressive polices. Keen was also able to document the positive impact these dollars had on the community through a grant management system she implemented tracking compliance and outcomes.
Her advocacy and volunteer leadership has also championed issues related to food scarcity and hunger. Among her numerous leadership roles on local community aid organization boards, she is currently president-elect of America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend Food Bank (ASHBB). Keen aided the ASHBB weather financial insecurity and possible closure through advocacy and education. She is also a part of the Knight Communities Catalyst Institute Class of 2013 (KCCI). Through KCCI she aided in the establishment of the Frenchtown Heritage Market, which established a provider of fresh produce from local organic growers in a known food desert area. She and her family also regularly volunteer at the market.
Keen also spoke in 2016 at the FSU College of Social Work Alumni Breakfast during FSU’s Homecoming weekend, passionately speaking about the need for social workers to set the example of immersive community engagement and involvement through volunteerism and advocacy. Keen is not only a strong voice for these values, she embodies them.
For her accomplishments, Keen was recognized by the Tallahassee Democrat as one of its 25 Women You Need to Know in Tallahassee in 2017, and is honoring them at an event on April 10, 2017.