Coconino County has appointed Joanne Keene as its new deputy manager to fill the position vacated by Mike Townsend.
Keene, who has nearly 25 years of experience in local, state and federal government, previously worked for the County for eight years as Government Relations Director before becoming Northern Arizona University’s Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, a position she has now held for five years.
During her previous time at the County, Keene often worked with County leaders and helped to temporarily fill the role of Assistant County Manager when Steve Peru retired in 2011.
“I had a strong interest in moving back into public service,” Keene said. “I’m excited to get back into local government, specifically. It’s where my heart is.”
The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the appointment during a regular meeting in March, after which Keene will join existing Deputy County Managers Lucinda Andreani and Marie Peoples.
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In this position, Keene will focus on implementing the County’s mission and goals by working with internal departments such as Information Technology, Human Resources and Facilities Management on organizational culture and other efforts. Deputy managers report to County Manager James Jayne, who announced Keene’s appointment Thursday afternoon.
“We’re thrilled to welcome back Joanne to the County team,” Jayne said in a statement. “Several highly qualified candidates were interviewed for this position and Joanne’s experience and dedication to this County made her the clear choice. Joanne has remained an essential and trusted voice in our community and has been a fantastic partner in her role with NAU.”
Keene has lived in Flagstaff for more than 16 years. She graduated from NAU with a Master of Public Administration and bachelor’s degrees in English and Broadcast Journalism and serves on the board of directors for High Country Humane, the management committee for the Flagstaff Metropolitan Planning Organization, as well as the boards of Arizona Forward, a statewide sustainability organization, the Arizona State Fair and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
Keene said she plans to stay involved in these organizations, with hopes to expand her community efforts to match her upcoming work with County leaders.
“I really feel like I can bring my skills, experience and things I’ve learned at NAU and in the community back to the County. I’m really excited to do that and to work at a higher level with department directors who I have a lot of respect for and who I can learn from,” Keene said. “It’s not the same organization as when I was there [previously], so I’m excited to meet new directors and to work with them on some of my new ideas.”
NAU President Rita Cheng said she and Keene have worked together during the past few months to plan Keene’s transition from the university.
“Joanne is a valued member of my team and has contributed so much to NAU,” Cheng said in an email. “While I know we will miss her, I fully support her as she prepares to move into another phase of what has already been an amazing career. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Joanne as a member of the County’s leadership team.”
Kaitlin Olson can be reached at the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (928) 556-2253.
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