When he was an MSW student, Mark A. Keeley’s first practicum was with the St. Louis Arc, a nonprofit agency that provides support and services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. On July 1, Keeley, MSW ’89, began work as the president and CEO of St. Louis Arc, which now serves more than 3,500 St. Louis area families.
Keeley’s interest in the developmentally disabled was sparked when, while a Michigan high school student, he was offered an opportunity to skip a math test if he volunteered for the Special Olympics. Most of the participants he encountered had lived in institutions from an early age, and most didn’t know if they had a family. As a result, he began working in a group home in Michigan to help residents move out of institutions. That focus continued at the Brown School and beyond.
“I came to Washington University because I wanted to go where the work was being done,” he said. A concentration in mental health and management gave him the skills to take a leadership role from the beginning, when St. Louis Arc hired him after graduation.
“The Brown School gave me a great opportunity,” said Keeley, who also serves as an adjunct advisor at the school. “The practicum was essential.”
Keeley joined the St. Louis Arc as the assistant director of residential services. In 1995 he designed the agency’s current family reimbursement respite model, which has grown to be one of the largest in the country. The program provides money to allow families with disabled relatives at home to take a break.
He was vice president of support services when the St. Louis Arc’s board of directors announced his promotion.
“Mark is an excellent choice and will do an outstanding job serving the families and employees of the St. Louis Arc,” said Kathy Meath, outgoing president and CEO of St. Louis Arc, who retired after 34 years as its leader and who also earned an MSW degree from the Brown School. “I leave knowing that this organization is in good hands and will continue to be regarded as a leader of quality in our field.”