John Keenan is Gold U recipient

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | September 18, 2018

Image with caption: John Keenan

John Keenan

You may know or have worked with John Keenan in his role as editor of the med center's daily online newsletter, UNMC Today. He writes and edits stories, curates news, keeps a steady hand on the tiller and in many ways serves as UNMC's internal voice.

But, like many who work in academic medicine, Keenan has a dual appointment.

Every day, and often multiple times a day, his peers in the PR department hear Keenan announce, "I'm going over to MMI," as he heads out on a half-mile walk to the Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation. He's MMI's PR liaison.

"One might think he works full-time for both MMI and PR," said Karen Burbach, senior associate director, communication and creative services.

For his dedication to both entities, Keenan is the most recent recipient of UNMC's Gold U award.

At public relations, Keenan is known for a fierce work ethic.

At MMI, he shows his heart.

"He cares," said Karoly Mirnics, M.D., Ph.D., director of MMI.

"Few would hesitate to step forward on his behalf as he has done for them time and time again," said MMI's director of community engagement Melonie Welsh.

Keenan said this is simply UNMC's -- and MMI's -- mission. "You feel like you are part of the mission even if you are not providing direct health care service," he said.

"MMI is doing wonderful things to help children and adults with complex health conditions and developmental disabilities. I'm especially invested in that mission because my son has a developmental disability and has received services at MMI," Keenan said.

Seeing other children's progress, seeing dedicated MMI staff and faculty stick with these patients through various life stages, is "very therapeutic for the parent of a boy on the autism spectrum," he said.

News never stops at the med center. There's a UNMC Today every day. But PR colleagues -- notably Tom Waples, Rich Watson, and his boss, Burbach -- support his ability to also give his all to MMI, Keenan said.

"UNMC is an inspiring place to work. All of these people are committed to the mission."

Being singled out for the award is disconcerting, Keenan said. "I feel like everybody I work with is working as hard as I am, both at PR and at MMI."

He's usually the one writing this story about the latest Gold U winner.

"Now I know why everyone always says, "I never expected this,'" he said.


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Sara Pirtle
September 24, 2018 at 10:30 AM

A well-deserved honor, John !

Kent Savery
September 21, 2018 at 2:17 PM

Congratulations, John! Stay awesome!

September 19, 2018 at 11:13 AM

Congratulations John! You are one of the most pleasant and humble human beings that I know. Your dedication to the University is undeniable. We'll deserved award!

Nicole Hackendahl
September 19, 2018 at 8:53 AM

How wonderful, John - Congratulations!! MMI is lucky to have you :)

Greg Karst
September 18, 2018 at 10:04 PM

John, I can't think of a person more deserving of this award. Congratulations on many, many jobs well done, and thanks for your continued dedication to all of us at UNMC who can't start the day without reading your work!

Mimi McCann
September 18, 2018 at 6:40 PM

Well deserved! Thank you for all that you do, John. Congratulations!

Paul Baltes
September 18, 2018 at 5:26 PM

You may not have expected it, but you certainly deserve it John!

Giovanni Jones
September 18, 2018 at 5:23 PM

Congratulations John!

Fran Higgins
September 18, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Woohoo! Congrats, John!

Evelyn Grixby
September 18, 2018 at 2:55 PM

Congratulations John, you are the BEST!

Heidi Kaschke
September 18, 2018 at 2:48 PM

This is awesome. Congratulations, John!

Abby Meyer
September 18, 2018 at 2:43 PM

Congratulations, John!! Very well deserved. Hope you're doing well!

Jolene Wees
September 18, 2018 at 2:04 PM

Congratulations John! You certainly deserve recognition!

Tom O'Connor
September 18, 2018 at 11:52 AM

Congrats, John. Being editor of a daily newsletter can be a daunting task. You handle it with the utmost skill. Kudos to you on this great recognition!

Stacie Hamel
September 18, 2018 at 11:51 AM

Proud of you, John! Congratulations!

Tyler Scherr
September 18, 2018 at 11:26 AM

Congrats John - always enjoy working with you!

Kim Brown
September 18, 2018 at 11:07 AM

Congratulations John! Very well deserved, we appreciate all that you do!!

Meg Johnson
September 18, 2018 at 10:21 AM

Congrats, John. Appreciate all you do!

Duane Retzlaff
September 18, 2018 at 10:07 AM

Congratulations, John!

Keith D. Swarts
September 18, 2018 at 9:54 AM

John, congrats. Your willingness to assist me with my PR projects, regardless of how unusual, and without hesitation has always been much appreciated. Thank you for your great service and dedication. YOU ARE THE BEST!!!

John Hauser
September 18, 2018 at 9:51 AM

Congratulations John! You do great work and this shows it does not go unnoticed.

Barb Glover
September 18, 2018 at 9:32 AM

Congratulations John: I am so glad you finally get to see how much everyone loves to work with you!

Melanie Stewart
September 18, 2018 at 8:53 AM

Congratulations John! You are the unsung (but not anymore!) hero in helping all of us get the word out to campus...and make us non-writers look good while doing it! Thank you for all the time, effort, and dedication.

Kayla Thomas
September 18, 2018 at 8:34 AM

Congrats! MMI is a special place and they are lucky to have you.

Amanda Lindsay
September 18, 2018 at 8:28 AM

Way to go, John! You deserve it!

Jo Giles
September 18, 2018 at 8:26 AM

Congrats John!! Your passion and hard work make you a vital part of the UNMC team. I still enjoy reading UNMC Today.

Anne Lawlor
September 18, 2018 at 8:23 AM

Congratulations, John! You are so deserving of this recognition!

Nicole Gamerl
September 18, 2018 at 8:22 AM

I always enjoyed working with you, John! Well deserved! Congratulations!

Tara Witte
September 18, 2018 at 8:10 AM

congratulations John! Well deserved!

Catherine Mello
September 18, 2018 at 8:08 AM

Congratulations John! You are great to work with!

Jayme Nekuda
September 18, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Congratulations John! Thanks for ALL you do for UNMC. No one has ever deserved this award more than John.

Christy Williams
September 18, 2018 at 7:56 AM

John, you are the best! Congratulations on this well deserved award!

Kelly Johnson
September 18, 2018 at 7:32 AM

Congratulations, John!

Bill O'Neill
September 18, 2018 at 7:24 AM

Congratulations, John. So well-deserved!

Dr. Linda Love
September 18, 2018 at 6:57 AM

I am so thankful for John and his professional skills and values! He is a major driver in making all of UNMC feel proud of our work, our workplace, and our workforce. This recognition is well deserved, for someone who is dedicated to UNMC and its mission.

Carol Gaebler
September 18, 2018 at 6:50 AM

Congratulations, John! I always enjoy getting to collaborate with you! Great article - hope you didn't have to write it yourself! :0

Jessica Semin
September 18, 2018 at 6:17 AM

Congrats John! Very well deserved-I've enjoyed working with you over the past few years! :)

Carmen Sirizzotti
September 18, 2018 at 6:03 AM

Congratulations!! Your commitment to your work and to UNMC values are extraordinary!

Sue Pope
September 18, 2018 at 4:56 AM

Congratulations John!! VERY well-deserved!!

Kim Bainbridge
September 17, 2018 at 8:49 AM

John so well deserved. Congratulations

Luann Rabe
September 14, 2018 at 6:27 PM

You are so worthy of this award because of all the time and effort you put forward for the Guild's Garden Walk and this years 50th Celebration. I know MMI is close to your heart as it is to mine because it is the voice for our special ones! Hip Hip Hooray for you, John!!!