Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Loveland, Colorado. After that, I lived in Honolulu, Washington, D.C., and Washington state.
Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?
I started college at Colorado State University, majoring in Technical Journalism, but I graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. (Studying on the beach sounded much better!). I have a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies.
How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?
I started working at the science center in March 2021, but I have been with NOAA for almost 20 years. While I was in school in Honolulu, I had an internship with NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. After graduating, I started working for the sanctuary as a contractor coordinating their sanctuary advisory council. I then took a position with Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument when it was created. Those experiences led me to a federal position as a public affairs officer for NOAA headquarters. Most recently I worked for the state of Washington as a communications manager. When the communications manager position opened at the science center, I knew it was a good opportunity to come back to NOAA and again focus on marine science communications.
What do you do at the science center?
As the communications manager for the science center, I get the opportunity to tell people about the important work that the science center team does. Some days that means working with news media, some days it means creating web content and (shameless plug) writing our newsletter, Sea Notes. I’m always looking for ways to show the value of the center’s science.
What do you like most about your position?
One of the most important things for me in any job is working with good people. I definitely get to do that at the science center. I also like that I get to share our science, which is important to people’s lives and livelihoods—but is also really cool!
What does the recognition of Women’s History mean to you?
I have appreciated and understood the importance of Women’s History month more as I’ve gotten older. There are so many stories of how women have influenced well- known events (which shouldn’t be surprising) without getting credit.
Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?
My mom is the most influential woman in my life. She primarily raised my sister and me as a single parent. She encouraged us to be independent and take risks, and helped us become strong women ourselves—which she may have regretted occasionally in our teenage years! She also inspired us to travel and live in different places. My sister lives abroad with her family and both of us have had opportunities to visit some amazing places. It wasn’t just my sister and me who my mom has inspired, she was a teacher for more than 30 years. I love that her former first- and third-grade students, who are now all adults, make a point to tell her how much she meant to them when they have seen her over the years.
What are some of the biggest challenges that women face today? Do you see these changing in the future?
I have actually experienced working in several places with women in leadership roles. I didn’t see this as revolutionary at the time, but realize now that it is far less common. We shouldn’t have to work so hard to find a better balance of perspectives in leadership—it should be routine.
I think one of the challenges for women that I’ve seen in the professional world is being recognized as strong leaders without having to tell everyone that they’re strong leaders. I find that often quiet leadership is the better way to lead, but it’s overlooked in a traditional work structure that credits the loudest voices.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I really like to travel, especially to spend time with friends and family or to find a beach. I have been to all 50 states! While the pandemic has slowed this down, I still have been able to do some exploring around the Pacific Northwest—usually with my dog, Kona.
Keeley has since taken a position with NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, firstname.lastname@example.org.