Remembering Linda Keeney
by Juan Lachapelle | published Oct. 18th, 2013
Linda Keeney, director of communications for RIT’s Office of Development, passed away on October 9 due to illness. Working at RIT since 1994, she’s held a variety of positions. Keeney started as a marketing coordinator for Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies-Civil Engineering Technology Marketing Operations, according to RIT Message Center. She also worked as the associate director of annual giving in the Development and Alumni Relations Division and as the senior director of The Fund for RIT, which she has been a part of since 2001.
Kim Slusser, assistant vice president for development, and Marisa Psaila, director of The Fund for RIT, have both directly worked with Keeney since her start in the annual giving team. Psaila was the one who hired Keeney. The two became close after that. On the day of her promotion to associate director in 2001, Keeney took Slusser and Psailia aside and asked to change her title to “badass associate director,” according to Psaila.
Both of them remember Keeney’s kindness, work ethic and love for laughter. ”When she would laugh, I mean the tears would pour down her face and she would just be in hysterics,” said Slusser. “She just brought everyone she touched so much joy”. Keeney’s love for RIT and its students were reflected in her work. “Everything that she did was to make RIT better and help to enhance student’s lives,” said Psaila. “The work she did will have a lasting impact. All the scholarship dollars she brought in from her solicitations as well as support for colleges and other programs has a lasting impact on RIT.”
Keeney was in charge of writing all direct mail solicitation pieces for The Fund for RIT and helped with the RIT telefund and Roar Day. She maintained all mailing lists for these events, which included students, faculty, staff and alumni. She also managed all of the websites related to The Fund for RIT. Her skills in writing and marketing are what helped grow the various scholarships, programs and fundraisers that many students have utilized and participated in.
Slusser and Psailia talked of the time when the three wanted to confront the vice president and request to double the annual funds budget in order to make the changes they wanted. Keeney was the one who wrote the proposal that got them the funds, helping the annual funds budget grow to what it is today. Keeney also managed to get well over one million solicitations a year, grow direct mail to over one million dollars a year and increase the yearly amount of gifts to 3,000 each year from the original number of nine gifts each year. She also created the ROAR acronym for Roar day and table sat at every opportunity.
Keeney is an “unsung hero,” according to Slusser. Her work and contributions will rarely be attributed to her but will affect RIT for years to come. On the legacy walk, one can find a brick dedicated to Linda Keenly. This gift, given to her by the entire annual giving and donor services staff when she retired, was one of the greatest presents has ever received. “All she kept saying was ‘I always wanted a brick, I always wanted a permanent part of RIT,” said Slusser. “And now I have it.’ I’ll never forget that”