Former Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan loses battle with brain cancer

Baird leads tributes to Kristen Keegan TweetFacebookfacebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsMORE GALLERIES

1234567891011121314151617181920212223 – MIKE Baird has joined business and community leaders in paying tribute to the Hunter’s first femalebusiness chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan, who has passed away after a short battle with brain cancer.

The 46-year-old was diagnosed with the aggressive condition midway through last year, and passed away in hospital on Wednesday morning.

Former premier Baird said he was “heartbroken” when he heard of Ms Keegan’s passing.

“All of us who have known her knew she was an incredible woman – passionate and inspiring – and believe she changed the city of Newcastle for the better for a generation to come,” Mr Baird said.

“I was proud to call her a friend and I join with everyone to give our deepest sympathies to her family and friends who are doing it so tough at this time.”

Formerpresident of the Hunter Business Chamber Richard Anicich, who worked closely with Ms Keegan during his three-year term, paid tribute to her passion for the region.

“Kristen was a passionate advocate for the entire Hunter Region through her work with the Property Council and then Hunter Business Chamber and also on the board of the Hunter Infrastructure Fund,” Mr Anicich said.

“Her untimely passing is a great loss to the region”.

Current chamber president Jonathan Vandervoort praised Ms Keegan’s legacy.

“Kristen leaves a strong legacy in the region and I know she will be missed,” he said in a statement to members.

Indicative of her wide reach,Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush also paid tribute to the “untiring advocate for the Upper Hunter”, who grew up in Denman and attended St Joseph’s at Aberdeen.

“She was instrumental in securing significant project funding for the Upper Hunter and it was council’s great privilege to work closely with her,” Cr Rush said.

TRIBUTES: Former Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan has lost her battle with brain cancer. She was 46.

“Her influence, advice and passionate advocacy made a material difference to the landscape of the Upper Hunter economy and its liveability.

“Kristen will be very sadly missed. Council extends its deepest sympathies to Kristen’s family and friends.”

Ms Keegan graduated from the University of Newcastle with a bachelor of law/administration and a graduate diploma in industrial relations before working for the university.

She was the regional director of the Hunter Property Council from 2006 to 2011, when she left to become the first female chief executive of the Hunter Business Chamber.

In May 2016she was announced as the chief executive of Dantia, Lake Macquarie City Council’s economic development arm.

Dantia chair Trent Bagnall said Ms Keeganwas a “great people person” and had wonderful insight into how to get people to work together.

“I think the outpouring of love for her since she fell ill shows the regard she is held in by people that have worked and been friends with Kristen,” Mr Bagnall said.

“She was a gun hand, strong, cheeky, funny and smart.

“She instilled great confidence in people.

“She was a great friend and above all irreplaceable.”

Former Hunter Business Chamber presidentKaren Howard said Ms Keeganwas“a fearless warrior” for the region.

“One was never left wondering what she thought,” she said.

“For this forthrightness she and her family paid a heavy toll. I will miss her (and her cheeky messages) greatly.”

Ms Keegan is survived by her daughter, sister and parents.

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