Terrance Keenan: An Appreciation

Chapter 3

Terry Keenan was the most beloved and effective grantmaker in the Foundation’s history. A kind and gentle man who never said a bad word about anybody, Keenan had the tenacity of a terrier. He is legendary for having braved dangerous ghettos in Chicago and Arctic snows in Alaska in search of extraordinary grantees and then fighting for them, sometimes against great opposition, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He never gave up on an idea or a person he believed in. Alan Cohen, a former vice president of research and evaluation at the Foundation, said that Terry was ‘‘the social conscience of the Foundation’’ and ‘‘really sees the people in the project.’’

In his more than 30-year career, Keenan championed and supervised nearly 1,000 grants, many awarded to small community-based organizations. He was an early and impassioned advocate of the nursing profession and was instrumental in the Foundation’s early efforts to build the field of nurse practitioners.

In Volume IX of the Anthology, Digby Diehl wrote an appreciation of Keenan, one that captured—to the extent that they can be captured in a short piece—his life and values. We reprint that appreciation here, both as a tribute to, and as a way of sharing the philosophy of, a person who represents the very best of philanthropy.