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Bridget Keefe – Athena Emerging Leader

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Downtown Orlando Partnership Executive Director

Keefe moved to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida (UCF) and was the first member of her family to earn a degree. She is a graduate of the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management and the UCF College of Health and Public Affairs.

While in college, she interned at Hershey Entertainment and learned about the importance of the non-profit dynamic to the corporate world, as the business gives a significant portion of proceeds to its foundation. She returned to her alma mater to work in multiple positions, including director of the Alumni Association.

She then stepped into the role of executive director of Downtown Orlando Partnership – an organization whose mission is to enhance business and community relationships through collaborative events and initiatives. she is responsible for overseeing daily operations and implementing strategic plans and programs for the association, working with board members and business leaders to enhance relationships in Downtown Orlando through collaborative events and initiatives.

Keefe was recognized as one of UCF’s inaugural 30 under 30, celebrating the achievements of young alumni and the impact they’ve made in the areas of business, research, leadership, arts, community, education or philanthropy. “I’m most proud of the evolution of the organization in the past two years to be more supportive of downtown as a whole,” Keefe said. “We’re not close to the finish, but I’m proud of the momentum that we’ve gained.”

She is quick to list mentors who helped her along the way and sharing those lessons by speaking with undergraduate students at UCF. “I frequently tell students and young women that your network is your strongest asset – it’s going to get you where you need to go.” She encourages the students to plug into organizations in meaningful ways to grow their networks. “Be exposed to more people. You don’t get anywhere alone.”

This may be especially important for young women. “To me, young women may underestimate themselves. The business world can be complex and intimidating.”

When it comes to the topic of balance that inevitably finds its way into the conversation, “I started to say no to things even if I didn’t want to,” she explains. “It is important to have a husband or partner who can step up when needed. Everyone has to find that balance on their own.”

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