Getting to Know Michelle Keenan

New DICP director of community engagement and education on health care equity and spicy curries

Michelle Keenan joined the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership as director of community engagement and education in November 2022. MyHMS caught up with Keenan to talk about her work at HMS, her hobbies, and her time Down Under.

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Michelle Keenan

MyHMS: What brought you to HMS?

Keenan: I particularly was drawn to the mission and work of the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership, which aligns closely with my values and draws upon my professional experience in health care, equity, and community engagement. I knew DICP would provide a strong foundation, and I could see a lot of potential to deepen existing community relationships to address issues that mean the most to people.

I also worked in health care for many years, so I have had a lot of contact with HMS faculty. They are stellar clinicians and researchers and are inspiring to work with. I also appreciate the social advocacy efforts of many medical residents. I knew HMS would be a stimulating environment where many people are committed to working together with community members and organizations to advance health equity.

MyHMS: What did you do before you started working at HMS?

Keenan: Immediately prior to working at HMS, I was senior director of health equity and social innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I was responsible for the youth programming (pre-K to early career) for communities underrepresented in medicine, as well as the hospital’s community benefits and community health investment efforts and the community health assets and needs assessment and implementation plan.

Over my career I have worked in management roles in city government, nonprofit community organizations, and health care. The juncture of health and community engagement and organizing is really interesting to me. I love working collaboratively with others to create opportunities for power and opportunity to be shared more equitably.

My work has been across many health and community service issues, including HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, public housing, alcohol and drug services, and youth employment. Working collaboratively with internal stakeholders and community members and organizations to co-design and implement health equity initiatives is a real joy for me.