Meet Denise Keele

Meet denise keele

Director
Michigan Climate Action Network

[email protected] | (231) 941-6584 x 723

A farmer, a forester, a grassroots organizer, a political scientist, a professor … Denise Keele comes to her role as Director of Michigan Climate Action Network with a deep and multi-disciplined understanding that we need to move rapidly to stop and reverse global warming. “I just want all of us to have a livable future,” she says, with a straightforward conviction that likely traces its roots to the centennial Iowa farm where she was raised.

For Denise, a top priority is inspiring and connecting people and building the MiCAN network beyond its already strong base of 80 member organizations and more than 25,000 individuals. Also, “there are real opportunities at the state level,” she says. Notably, the newly released Mi Healthy Climate Plan, which will continue to evolve and take shape in coming months, meaning that now is an essential time to influence its future and make sure that equity lives at the center of the solutions for a net zero Michigan.

But it’s the realm beyond the capital that especially draws Denise’s interest. “I’m a political scientist, but I’m a boots on the ground political scientist. I like to look at how policy is matching up with lived experience.”

The people Denise grew up with—farmers—and the people she worked with early in her career—foresters—“have a different perception of climate change, but the climate movement needs the folks who work the land every single day. They know what’s going on around them.” 

In MiCAN and Groundwork, Denise saw that same big-tent viewpoint and that same desire to connect with people and communities—and then joined our team.

Good to know

Education

Undergraduate degree in forestry, University of Tennessee (Knoxville), where she also earned a master’s degree focused on endangered species conservation. Doctorate in Environmental Politics, Syracuse University (joint degree with the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry)..

In her spare time ...

Denise loves to kayak Michigan’s many beautiful waters, with northern rivers like the Manistee and Au Sable among her favorites. “Something about moving water makes me think about the hydrologic cycle. That drop of water, where it’s been, where it’s going. How did I get so lucky to have that little drop here?”

Favorite spots in northern Michigan

I’d have to say the Manistee River!

Why the prop?

The Little Manistee River because I love to kayak, and I especially love to kayak this beautiful waterway.

What's always in your fridge?

Caffeine and CokeZero, or a Pure Leaf. And chocolate … there’s definitely always chocolate in there.

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