Mississippi State University First Lady and Starkville public relations professional Rhonda Newman Keenum has been named to the board of directors of the Jackson Zoological Society Inc., the formal operating entity of the Jackson Zoo.
Keenum is president of Keenum Company, a public affairs firm that provides strategic counsel, government relations and communication services to a diverse group of leading corporations, coalitions and trade associations. She served as director of the Office of Public Liaison and deputy assistant to President George W. Bush. Prior to her White House appointment, Keenum served as the acting undersecretary for commerce for International Trade Administration. Keenum held this role and at the same time served as the assistant secretary and director general of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS). Prior to her Senate confirmation as assistant secretary, Keenum was a senior vice president at Edelman Worldwide where she managed several award-winning national and state public affairs campaigns. Before joining Edelman, she served as vice president at Ketchum Public Relations in Washington, D.C. Before entering the public relations arena, Keenum was press secretary for then-U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS); served as deputy political director for the Republican National Committee Victory 2000 effort; and, played key roles in both the 1996 Dole for President and 1992 Bush-Quayle campaigns.
She is a member of the board of directors of Entergy, CREATE Foundation, Starkville-MSU Symphony Association and is an advisory board member for the Palmer Home for Children.
Keenum is a native of Booneville, and a graduate of Mississippi State University. She resides in Mississippi State with her husband, Mark, their triplets, Katie, Rett and Mary Phillips, and their youngest child, Victoria.
Also named to the board was Duane O’Neil, president of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.