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A Next Term

Cody Keenan’s journey with Barack Obama



Harkening back to his days on Ridgefield High School student council, Cody Keenan knows a thing or two about politics. A Chicago native who spent his teenage years in Ridgefield, Keenan served as President Barack Obama’s director of speechwriting from 2013 until the end of 44’s second term. 

Last year, Keenan married fellow White House staffer Kristen Bartoloni. The couple has remained in Washington, D.C., with Keenan, a ’98 RHS grad, currently working as Obama’s senior advisor and chief speechwriter. “I didn’t know I wanted to go into public service until I was most of the way through college,” says the ’98 RHS, who went on to receive a degree in political science from Northwestern University and a Master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “A rigorous education at RHS including phenomenal writing and literature teachers like Kathy Wassall and Bob Cox helped make my career possible.” 

Keenan’s political career began in June 2007 in Chicago when he joined Obama’s campaign as a speechwriting intern. He held various roles over the years—ultimately taking over the main speechwriting duties from Jon Favreau in early 2013. “Life was the White House,” Keenan says, looking back. “Fourteen-hour days, rarely any weekends, and more than a month a year spent on the road. But it was also time spent doing a lot of good for a lot of people with coworkers who became family. Literally. I met my wife at the office in 2011, and we were married last year.” 

Keenan’s thoughtful and memorable speechwriting has been compared to the works of Abraham Lincoln and he was even christened “Hemingway” by President Obama himself. From State of the Union addresses to sermons on the National Mall, Keenan’s carefully crafted and thought-provoking words have affected millions from Newtown to Nigeria. 

He’s been the subject of numerous documentaries including The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, a Showtime series examining the 2016 presidential election and transition of administrations, as well as The Obama Years: The Power of Words, a new Smithsonian documentary. 

In a New York Times article from 2015, David Axelrod, a longtime adviser to Obama and former newspaper reporter, said of Keenan: “He reminds me of some of the folks I grew up with in the old days in Chicago journalism—those hard-bitten, big-hearted, passionate writers who brought the stories of people to life.” 

Keenan, whose parents moved away from Ridgefield in 2003, says he doesn’t get back to town often, but still measures all chicken-parmesan subs against the one from Genoa Deli and considers his second favorite career slinging hot dogs at Chez Lenard in the late ’90s. For now, Keenan will remain in D.C. helping Obama write his next book, ghostwriting for “interesting” public figures, and occasional public speaking of his own.

“President Obama and I have always been good collaborators, so he asked me to join him in what we jokingly call ‘the afterlife,’” Keenan says of his boss. “We share an office with a few other staffers. But he’s very much the writer-in-chief when it comes to his next book. I’m just around to help.”  

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September 2017

The 30th Annual Bigelow Tea, 5K Run, 2 Mile Fitness Walk and Kid's Fun Run will take place at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, Southport on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 9:00 to noon,...

Cost: $10, $15, $25

Where:
BTCC @ Wakeman Boys & Girls Club
385 Center Street
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Bigelow Tea
Telephone: 203-330-2530
Contact Name: Elaine Gavoli
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The Somers Women's Club, a not-for-profit community service organization, will hold its major fundraiser on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Reis Park on Route 139 in Somers. There will be a...

Cost: free

Where:
Reis Park
182 Primrose St
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Somers Womens Club
Telephone: 914-302-7231
Contact Name: Beth Ryzyk
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The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce and the Connecticut Giant Pumpkin Growers Club will host the 5th Annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 10 am to 3 pm in Ballard Park,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ballard Park
Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-438-5992
Contact Name: Jen Mulhern
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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
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66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Where:
Richter Park Golf Club
100 Aunt Hack Road
Danbury, CT  06810
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Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
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Presented by Louise Baranger Moffly Media Evening of Art, Wine & Jazz Series Classic pop hits from the 60s and 70s with a dash of jazz.  Come dance, sing and groove with us! Ticket...

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Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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193 Danbury Road, Ridgefield; 203-431-7000. founders-hall.org SEPT 27 @ 6 PM.  Wine, Cheese & Accessories, a Ladies Night Out; a fun evening of fine wine, food, fellowship,...

Cost: $20

Where:
Founders Hall
193 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Founders Hall
Telephone: 203-431-7000
Contact Name: Laurie Christiansen
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Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Cost: $240

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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In this day of watered down comedy, Nick Di Paolo’s brutally honest performances remind us of what great stand up should be: funny, socially relevant and a little bit reckless. With Boston...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Barts Tree Service Comedy Series
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Cost: $35

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
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Sponsor: Barts Tree Service Comedy Series
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Cost: Free

Where:
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181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06810
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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Cost: $37.50

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Mountain Dew Country & Bluegrass Series
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Larry Gatlin is the oldest of the three Gatlin brothers. By age seven, he was already accompanying younger brothers, Steve and Rudy in singing at family and church events....

Cost: $37.50

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
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Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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