Karen Keene has always loved a good adventure. Whether kayaking to a glacier in Alaska, tracing family lineage on a trip to Galway, or forming the first ATHENA NextGen program in the world, she faces new experiences head-on. And it all started with her days as a Girl Scout.
“I loved going to Girl Scout camp,” Keene recalled. “I shared a lot of laughs with my friends at camp, mostly because we would try to outdo one another with pranks. Around the fire, we would tell stories and say the camp was haunted. Then we’d wait until midnight and scare kids at other campsites.”
That isn’t the only thing she took with her from her adventures, either. Her time selling cookies, she said, brought out her entrepreneurial spirit and ability to think creatively early on. Leadership, courage, loyalty and perseverance — all defining traits of a Girl Scout — have served her well throughout each new venture, both inside and outside of her career.
“Many of the skills that are first introduced in Girl Scouts are highlighted in the ATHENA leadership model. Collaboration, building relationships and giving back are key criteria.” – Karen Keene
As director of marketing and business development at law firm Dean Mead, president of ATHENA Orlando Women’s Leadership Inc., and one of the founders of the ATHENA NextGen program, she has put all of those tools to great use, to the benefit of those who work with and around her. Even her description of ATHENA NextGen, designed to help women hone their leadership skills over the course of an eight-month program, serves as a testament to the women who have come before her and an echo of the hopes of the Girl Scouts themselves.
“It’s all about helping young girls discover their full potential through risk-taking and innovation, and igniting their passion,” she said. “Recently, I read a great quote that said, ‘Your dream doesn’t have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again.’ My advice to women is to gather all the courage and resilience you can and go after what you want. Let your inner motivation push you across the finish line.”