Oct 12, 2016
30 Under 30: Arianne Keegan, Nonprofit Professional
Everyone loves winning, the feeling that comes from knowing you did something right. With her father, a lawyer who often helped clients facing financial or familial struggles, and her mother, a nurse who literally saved lives, Arianne Keegan’s career as a Nonprofit Professional doing similar work has come to her naturally.
Co-founder of both She/Folk (Advocating the power of voice for females) and Call Them Out, Florida! (A grassroots effort at calling out Senators and House Representatives who support anti-abortion or anti-female health legislation) she revels in reaching out, wanting to be a part of the collective to further the message of these movements. And bringing others into the fold, she says, always feels like a huge victory. Especially as a lifer—she’s never considered a career that doesn’t aid the social justice causes she believes in—those victories mean an awful lot.
Where do you live and how old are you, and what is your official professional title?
I live in Bushwick. I’m 29 years old.
What made you first interested in your profession, and how old were you when that happened?
Social justice has always been incredibly important to me. I knew I wanted a job that could help others because both of my parents helped people through their careers too. My dad was a lawyer and worked tirelessly for his clients who often faced financial and/or familial struggles, and my mom is a nurse practitioner. She started out literally saving lives in emergency rooms and now continues to provide mental health care, currently at a nonprofit clinic in Florida (where I’m from originally). In college, when I was 19, I started a campus chapter supporting a local NGO that promoted universal human rights, and I realized I could rally people—that’s when it crystallized for me.
Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for a young person to build a career?
Brooklyn is an amazing place, somewhere I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the past five years. There’s so much happening here creatively, such a diverse population of people to get to know and collaborate with, and endless activities to get involved in. That being said, many neighborhoods are quickly gentrifying, displacing long-term residents, and making rents unsustainable for more and more people—families, Brooklynites, artists, etc.. So while I love this borough immensely and believe its energy is really special, I think we need to be thoughtful, honest, and deliberate in the conversations we’re having about zoning, gentrification, the callousness and greed of too many landlords, tenants’ rights, etc..
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I can be a serious over-planner so I’m trying to be as present as possible, but I have some hopes, and a few constants that I expect will always be a part of my life: I hope to continue to be surrounded by radically kind and insightful people, part of a movement that has fully embraced intersectionality, and in a society that strives for resolution to systemic injustice and has learned to value multiple conversations simultaneously. Inevitably, I will be compulsively tidying/building a comforting mess of plants, photos, blankets, and books in my home, writing and re-writing about power, idols, fear, justice, and love, and learning daily how to be a better champion for unjustly marginalized voices and bodies.
Have you ever felt like leaving your career path?
Have I ever thought about not using my skills, platform, and privilege to further social justice causes I believe in? No.
What’s felt like your biggest professional accomplishment?
Any time someone else is eager to get involved with either She/Folk or CTOF!; when people have reached out wanting me to interview them for She/Folk’s Creator Interviews series because they want to be part of the collective of voices being shared; or when CTOF! hosted a discussion on anti-reproductive health legislation and people told me they hadn’t previously realized the severity of the anti-abortion climate or how reproductive access is intertwined with bodily autonomy and power—these feel like huge victories to me, like I’m doing something right, bringing people into the fold.
What’s some advice you’d give to people trying to get a foothold in your industry?
I’m constantly figuring out how to be, how to be better, so I feel strange advising anyone—but I should say: don’t sell yourself short, ha. And take time, make the effort to listen to and learn from others. Read everything you can.
Who are your role models in your industry, and what do you hope to see happen or change in the industry in the (near-ish) future?
Everyone I work with at the Legal Action Center is amazing. They’re such hard-working, brilliant, good-hearted people. Abigail DeAtley, who works at Planned Parenthood of NYC and is Co-Founder of CTOF!, is an incredible reproductive justice advocate. Nico Mazza, who co-founded She/Folk with me, is such a creative, inspiring, yet humble force of a woman. I hope people understand the work of championing social justice is not limited to people in the nonprofit “industry”—we’re not a closed club. To dismantle systems of oppression, which are interconnected and affect everyone, daily, takes a lot of work, and formidable strength to effect change is only built through inclusion.
Who would be your pick for a 30 Under 30?
Abigail DeAtley, Director of Development at Planned Parenthood of NYC, one of my dearest friends, a frequent collaborator (we started CTOF! together), and someone I look up to daily. She is an indomitable activist, fiercely intelligent, and really hilarious.
To learn about 29 more sub-30 standouts, visit this year’s list of 30 Under 30.
Image by Jane Bruce
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