Meeting the unmet needs of Oregon’s disadvantaged is the life work of Dennis Keenan MSW ’72.
Dennis started at PSU as a philosophy major, doing “some social activism on the side.” But helping people was clearly his passion, so he switched to social work. Through the degree program, Dennis learned how to work within institutions, not outside them, to effect positive social change. Coalition building is “the modus operandi of social work today,” says Dennis.
Following graduation, he went to work for Cascade Health Care, providing care for the medically indigent, and with the Archdiocese of Portland. For the past 21 years he’s been executive director of Catholic Charities of Oregon. [http://www.catholiccharitiesoregon.org/]
One of Catholic Charities’ nationally recognized programs, El Program Hispano, helps low-income, Latino immigrant families achieve self-sufficiency. Catholic Charities recently added a program to provide resources to victims of human trafficking, and is currently raising $12 million for a Center of Hope that will bring a Loaves and Fishes Center, a child care facility, and administration and other programs under one roof.
The foundation of his education is never far from Dennis’ work. Catholic Charities arranges field placements for Portland State students as well.
Dennis Keenan was honored by Providence Health & Services with the 2011 Compassion and Wisdom Award. We are honored by alumni who are so fully committed to their community.