Outreach & Civic Engagement Specialist
Keenan Gao was born in China and moved to the USA at the age of 2. She was born hard-of-hearing to hearing parents and spoke Chinese growing up. Keenan received a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015. She moved to Minnesota the same year and graduated with an M.S. in Financial Mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 2017. She currently works at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on statistical and economic models that stress test the nation’s financial system. She has also worked at US Bank as a credit risk model developer, and at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on their Agency MBS trading desk.
Due to growing up mainstream, Keenan had a late start on getting involved in Minnesota’s Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities. She took ASL classes at St. Paul College for two years and has been excited to “catch up” ever since. Now, she is trilingual in English, Chinese, and ASL.
Keenan has a passion for advocating for organizations to expand their definition of diversity and inclusion. Current and past projects that she has led include Minneapolis becoming the first city to have a theater that offered 100% open captions, establishing a youth rock climbing program, and growing the Deaf and Hard of Hearing ski/snowboard program at Hyland Hills Ski Area.
During her free time, Keenan loves to explore the Twin Cities food scene, play board games, and take photos.
“I want to help make lasting changes that bridge the gap between Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. I’m excited to work with the Commission because legislative advocacy is a new area for me. In addition to advocating with organizations, I am learning how to advocate with institutions. I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, and we must push boundaries everywhere that we can.” - Keenan Gao