Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Keenan to offer insights as Obama speechwriter

Keenan to offer insights as Obama speechwriter

Cody Keenan, a speechwriter for President Barack Obama for more than a decade, will discuss Bending the Arc: A Career of Purpose and Life in the White House on Friday, September 29. Keenan also serves as Obama’s collaborator on the former president’s upcoming book.

The presentation, hosted by the La Follette School of Public Affairs at UW–Madison, begins at 2 p.m. at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street.

Keenan joined the Obama campaign as an unpaid intern in 2007 before joining the White House as deputy director of speechwriting. In that role, he led the writing of many speeches, including President Obama’s address after the shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.

Through times of challenge and change, Keenan helped Obama craft remarks on every topic for every audience – from tiny backyards in Iowa to the biggest stadiums in the country; from a sermon in Selma to the State of the Union Address.

Keenan received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern University in 2002 and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2008.

In a 2014 interview with Elvina Nawaguna of Reuters, Keenan said his job was much like his graduate school studies. “You get a paper assignment, you might pull an all-nighter or come in really early to finish, and you hand it in and then you get his marks back and find out whether (the President) likes it or not."