Keefer joins Wichita Festivals, which stages Riverfest, as the annual community celebration tries to reinvent itself.
Its going to be a challenge, but Im really excited about it, she said. I think Im kind of uniquely positioned. Ive got a big network of people I can reach out to for help.
Keefer, 56, has cultivated that network through years of involvement in community events. A Wichita native, she left for a decade in her 20s, then returned to marry and raise a family.
Keefer started as a volunteer for the Old Town Association and Riverfest, chairing such events as the Old Town block parties, barbecue and chili cookoffs. She managed the Farm & Art Market building before it became the Museum of World Treasures, then spent the past decade working in marketing for the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.
Shell start at Wichita Festivals on Oct. 22 as a search is under way to replace the nonprofits longtime CEO and president, Janet Wright, who is retiring at the end of the year. Wichita Festivals also runs Autumn and Art at Bradley Fair, but Keefer said reinvigorating Riverfest will be her main goal.
Anything after 41 years has got to change and evolve, she said. A lot of people want to harken back and recall the better days of the festival. Im not saying that wont work again. But its a new day, so were going to have to re-examine everything. Ultimately its got to represent the community. Thats going to be my goal getting the community engaged in helping us figure out what its going to reflect.
Keefer and her husband, Jim, a well-known bassist, have three children.
Outside of work, she said, Art is a passion art and music. I actually spend a lot of time out supporting artistic events and music events. I also tend to read a lot when I get the opportunity, and garden.