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Meet SheJumps Board Members: Q&A with Heather Keen

Welcome to the Board of Directors: Heather Keen. We’re excited to have you and learn more about you.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: Hi! My name is Heather Keen. I have 15 years of experience in public relations, communications, nonprofit, and government work. I’m the Strategic Development Director for Marimn Health where I oversee special projects including the development and construction of a new, state-of-the-art youth and family center that will open on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in late 2020. I also manage internal and external communications, marketing, and public relations for the organization.

I have a master’s degree in Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Prior to joining the team at Marimn Health, I served as the Public Relations Director for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe where I also managed philanthropic giving, facilitated community partnerships, and worked on legislative initiatives. In what feels like another lifetime, I lived in Washington, D.C. for several years where I worked in the United States Congress.

I have more than a decade of nonprofit experience having served on the boards of directors for the Ray & Joan Salvation Army Kroc Center, the United Way of North Idaho, the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation, and was a founding board member for the Kootenai County Young Professionals. In 2020, I was honored to be named one of Idaho Business Review’s Women of the Year.

I’m excited to help SheJumps strengthen its sustainability for the long term and broaden the reach of the organization. I’m especially excited to see SheJumps take a leading stance on DEI issues and build engagement with the women in communities that have historically been overlooked.

In my free time, you can find me outside ‘smelling the roses’ - whether heading up to a summit on foot or via splitboard, travelling to new places, pedaling my mountain bike, or paddling my SUP on the lake - and probably with my best adventure buddies, my husband, and my old man pup Koda.

Q: Place of work, title, location.

A: I work as the Strategic Development Director for Marimn Health on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in Plummer, Idaho.

Q: Why did you join SheJumps as a board member?

A: Having recently completed my last term on a local nonprofit, I was looking for a new way to be able to engage with a nonprofit that aligned with my personal values. The SheJumps mission speaks volumes to me. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to support an organization that exists to unearth the potential of all women and girls through outdoor play and connection to nature. Having benefited greatly from my own experiences in the outdoors, I look forward to the opportunity to pay it forward and to share that experience with others.

Q: What goal of the SheJumps 5 year Strategic Plan is the most important to you?

A: SheJumps is uniquely positioned to provide free and low-cost access to outdoor education for girls and women of all backgrounds and I’m excited to see the organization build and expand its reach to those underserved communities.

Having said that, of course building organizational sustainability is key providing programs in the long term. I’ve worked with a number of nonprofits to build relevancy and long-term staying power, so I’m excited to be joining SheJumps at a time when this is a key priority.

Q: What do you hope to contribute to the SheJumps Board of Directors?

A: I’m excited to work with SheJumps to broaden and deepen their reach, with a particular focus on expanding programs to underserved communities. How exciting to be able to share a love and passion for the outdoors with women and girls in under-resourced communities who may not normally have access to the types of opportunities that may ignite their love for the outdoors and possibly even impact their trajectory of their lives by instilling confidence, building resiliency and empowering them with leadership skills that can apply to other areas of their lives!

Q: What is your vision for SheJumps?

A: SheJumps is a national resource for the outdoor education of girls and women and offers programs at low to no cost to participants. Programs are so impactful that participants remain engaged and committed to continuing their outdoor education and participation, and to the ongoing support of SJ. SJ staff and board of directors are fully engaged in building an organization that is fiscally sound and with programs that are financially sustainable. SJ leads the way in JEDI efforts and addressing inequities within the outdoor industry and reaches women and girls from all walks of life through its inclusive outdoor education programs.

Now, it’s time for the lightning round:

Q: Outdoor activity of choice (pick one, two if you must)?

A: Oooo. I’d probably have to say backpacking and mountain biking.

Q: Who inspires you to go outside and why?

A: Oh man, I’m fortunate that I have so many people around me who keep me itchin’ to move! My sister, who makes it a priority while raising a young kiddo (and future SheJumper). My mom, who’s still kicking butt into her 60s and will always be up for a hike, especially if it takes her to a summit–whether it's a 14er in Colorado or just some peak we can see from our campsite. My weekend warrior-ing adventure buddies with full time gigs who give their all to their jobs during the week and are completely tapped by Friday but still will make the most of the weekend no matter what. And my husband, who is constantly challenging me to do just a little more, go just a little further, or climb just one more thing.

Q: Where is your favorite place to go outside or on an adventure?

A: I count myself lucky to live in the west, where adventure abounds. The Selkirks have to be high on the list for local day trips and quick overnights. But hands down, I'd have to say that the Canadian Rockies take the cake.

Q: How has the outdoors benefited your health and overall physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing?

A: I’m a work hard, play hard type of gal. I grew up playing sports, but found the outdoors a little later in life. Regardless, I’ve benefited from learning new skills and pushing my own limits in the outdoors.

The outdoors is a place of great solace for me - a place where I can breathe again and recharge my batteries. For me, an outdoor adventure means the chance to overcome challenges. Mountains, rivers, lakes, glaciers, and trails teach humility. They teach perseverance. They teach patience and the value of hard work.

I’ve seen firsthand the confidence, strength, and empowerment that comes from achieving a big outdoor objective on your own accord. My own grit, determination, and wit have taken me to mountaintops at sunrise and across the finish line of an Ironman triathlon. I was fortunate to be on an all-women rope team that summited Mount Baker and saw the pride, ownership, and growth that comes with owning your training and your decisions, trusting yourself, and coming out on top. The confidence and self-esteem that comes from setting a big goal and accomplishing it is something that can benefit all women from all walks of life. And the camaraderie and memories that come with it are second to none!

Follow Heather's adventures on Instagram or LinkedIn.

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