By Romi Carrell Wittman –
2018 Tucson Woman of the Year
Carla Keegan couldn’t figure out why her friend and colleague Carrie Durham was insistent they have lunch downtown at Café a la C’Art. “She said we were meeting with the mayor and he couldn’t get away,” Keegan said.
Her suspicions were further piqued when, after arriving to the restaurant, she saw a large group of people as well as the mayor waiting. Then she learned the news that she was named the Greater Tucson Leadership 2018 Woman of the Year. “I was overwhelmed,” she said. “It was so humbling. It’s such an honor to be recognized.”
Keegan has made Tucson her home since she attended the University of Arizona, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1980 and an MBA in 1982. Having grown up in a military family with posts all over the world – she attended eight schools before graduating from high school – she’s made Tucson her adopted hometown.
She has fully embraced Tucson and has devoted herself to making it a better place. She’s done this through service on many nonprofit boards, taking on leadership roles in the community and mentoring others.
Carrie Durham, of the American Heart Association and Angel Charity for Children, nominated Keegan for GTL Woman of the Year. She said Keegan has been an instrumental member of the team modernizing the Angel Charity for Children. “She was the 2018 general chair of the Angel Charity, which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local nonprofits serving children. She’s implementing a new organizational chart as a result of the comprehensive strategic plan this year,” Durham said. “This includes an upgraded computer system, updating our website, purchasing new hardware and software, thus ensuring Angel Charity is a fully functional and sustainable organization.”
Keegan has done this in addition to her full-time job as president and director of taxation at Keegan, Linscott & Kenon, a full-service accounting firm with offices in Tucson and Phoenix that Keegan founded. She’s done this while continuing her volunteer work and board service with the DM50, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Junior League of Tucson, Downtown Advisory Council, Downtown Business Association and Brewster Center for Victims of Family Violence (now merged with Emerge). Keegan also oversees the KLK Cares program, which was created for employees at her company to encourage community service and volunteerism.
Her interest in giving back to the community was fostered during her undergraduate years. “Lynn Wood Dusenberry first got me involved with Junior League,” Keegan said. “She strongly suggested I get involved in things to better the community.”
Keegan took those words of advice to heart. As Durham puts it, “Keegan is a ‘let’s get this done’ kind of woman and ‘how can we best do what needs to be done’ kind of woman.”
Tucson icon Sally Drachman got to know Keegan through their work with the Junior League. In addition, Drachman taught a women’s leadership class at the YWCA and Keegan was one of her students. Keegan told Drachman of her desire to become a partner at the accounting firm where she was working at the time. “I suggested she do something differently,” she said.
Keegan took Drachman’s advice and jumped in with both feet, founding her own firm despite the financial risk and the incredible amount of work involved. This didn’t surprise Drachman. “She’s a born leader and will take on any task as long as she thinks it worthy and will be successful every time,” said Drachman.
Barbara Reuter, president of Cushman & Wakefield, is another true believer. “Carla’s chairing Angel Charity in 2018 has been the crown jewel atop a career of dedicated service, lending her many finance and accounting skills to numerous organizations,” Reuter said. “Carla has taken these assignments as calls to action, not resume builders. She has initiated strategic plans and translated big thinking to operational effectiveness for Angel Charity, DM50, Junior Achievement, Community Food Bank and many more.”
Despite her lifetime of service to her profession and her community, Keegan remains humble about the Woman of the Year honor. “I couldn’t have done this without the help of my colleagues and teammates,” she said. “This honor is as much for them as it is for me.”