Kristen Keegan Foundation set up to honour late business leader

Legacy: HunterNet chief Tony Cade, left, and Hunter Business Chamber policy advisor Anita Hugo and president Jonathan Vandervoort, who have worked with colleagues to set up the Kristen Keegan Foundation. Picture: Marina Neil.
Legacy: HunterNet chief Tony Cade, left, and Hunter Business Chamber policy advisor Anita Hugo and president Jonathan Vandervoort, who have worked with colleagues to set up the Kristen Keegan Foundation. Picture: Marina Neil.

KRISTEN Keegan was a “born leader” who fought for the region she was raised in despite many an obstacle.

“She contributed to so much growth across the Hunter and showed the business community that despite how hard it is sometimes, it’s worth fighting for,” says Anita Hugo, a close friend of Ms Keegan, who lost her battle with brain cancer last month.

“She would say you have to have a bit of mongrel in you and go in hungry.”

MISSED: "She worked hard, loved her community and lived big, we can all learn from that," says Anita Hugo of her late friend Kristen Keegan, above. Picture: Natalie Grono.

MISSED: "She worked hard, loved her community and lived big, we can all learn from that," says Anita Hugo of her late friend Kristen Keegan, above. Picture: Natalie Grono.

The legacy of Ms Keegan – who, prior to her illness, was chief executive of Lake Macquarie City Council’s economic arm Dantia and the first female CEO of Hunter Business Chamber – will now be honoured via the Kristen Keegan Foundation.

Recently set up by the Hunter Business Chamber and HunterNet, the foundation’s first initiative is the $5000 Kristen Keegan Future Leaders Program Scholarship. The winning candidate will enter HunterNet’s coveted Future Leaders program, which accepts 30 participants annually and mentors future Hunter leaders. 

HunterNet chief executive Tony Cade the foundation was “structured to support the development of next generation of  Kristen Keegans”.

“We wanted to preserve and promote Kristen’s legacy to inspire the next generation of Future Leaders to aim high, challenge the status quo, develop a genuine interest in the region and its communities, and shoot for the stars,” Mr Cade said. 

MISSED: "She worked hard, loved her community and lived big, we can all learn from that," says Anita Hugo of her late friend Kristen Keegan, above. Picture: Natalie Grono.

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The scholarship assessment criteria include a desire to make a difference in the region, take risks and have “an appreciation for the values that Kristen had”.

Ms Hugo, the chamber’s policy adviser and former acting CEO, said her late friend would likely be “quietly proud” of the foundation. 

“It meant a lot to her the work that she did and so to see that people valued it … often when we are running our every day lives we don’t take time to express gratitude or respect for the work they are doing, so to have this in her name, that is a way of doing that,” she said.

Ms Keegan’s father, Patrick, said his family was honoured that the work his Ms Keegan had “so much passion for” would be continued in her name.

“We miss her more than words can say and it’s comforting to know that she is so warmly remembered by others,” he said. 

For scholarship details contact Ms Hugo at Hunter Business Chamber.