Meet Barbara Byrd Keenan, The Endocrine Society’s New CEO

In the wake of Scott Hunt’s retirement after a quarter century at the helm of The Endocrine Society, Barbara Byrd Keenan has been named the new CEO.

Keenan was chosen after an exhaustive, months-long search which included interviewing the top talent from the association management arena. Keenan brings more than two decades of impressive association management and leadership, with particular expertise in development, marketing, positioning, and partnerships — all qualities that will help the Society accelerate its growth and impact.

Her experience and vision make her an ideal fit with the strategic plan of The Endocrine Society, according to Society president Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD. “The Endocrine Society is at a pivot point between our legacy and our future,” said Woodruff. “As we approach the start of our second century, Ms. Keenan will be instrumental in helping the Society capitalize on its many strengths and continue moving forward.”

Keenan comes to the Society from the Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologists where she is currently that organization’s executive vice president. She says she was intrigued by the vital connection between nutrition and health, something that has been of considerable focus for endocrinologists as well as food technologists. “Like The Endocrine Society, IFT is also an interdisciplinary audience both of which concentrate on advancing the health and nutrition of people around the world,” she explains.

“The genuine success of an organization is when we make a real impact, not just on the lives of our members but on the lives of those individuals our members are dedicated to serving, as well as to society at large,” she continues. “And that is a real parallel to The Endocrine Society, not just for members but what endocrinologists will do to support health and wellness in the world population.”

Keenan’s philosophy regarding association management is that both the volunteer members and the headquarters staff should work as one to maintain a consistent strategic vision. “In any association there’s never a lack of potential initiatives, services, and projects that can be done,” she explains. “The challenge is to get the one or two ideas that can truly make a positive impact on the organization as well as its members.” She added that at past IFT functions, the staff and the members work so closely together that it was difficult to tell them apart, a fact that gives Keenan great pride and humility.

In Keenan’s opinion, the effort put forth by the volunteer members is definitely a two-way street. “We want to make sure that if you’re a volunteer leader that you feel that when you contribute to the organization, that the organization has helped you in some way,” she explains. “I love it when members credit the organization for the accolades they get in their professional life. The core belief of association management is we do for others.”

Keenan came to IFT in 2003 from the Community Associations Institute (CAI) in Alexandria, Va., where she served as CEO. During her tenure, CAI blossomed from an ailing, bankrupt entity to a financially healthy, well respected organization that received several awards for its education programs, publications, marketing, and legislative affairs.

“Endocrinologists are on the forefront of medicine and are addressing some of the most pressing health concerns of our day,” Keenan noted. “I’m excited to join the Society’s work and become part of its amazing team.”

Keenan’s skills and vision will be a catalyst for the Society’s expanding agenda, which includes strategic partnerships to advance the field and facilitate research breakthroughs. She will assume her new role as CEO on Jan. 6.

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