ThreeSixty Journalism, a nonprofit program of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, announced Kenzie O’Keefe as its new director. O’Keefe spent nearly eight years in various positions at Pillsbury United Communities, including as editor and publisher of its North News community newspaper.
Most recently she served as head of mobilization and narrative strategy at Pillsbury United Communities. In that role she oversaw a team of community-based storytellers working to develop media and strategic messaging to shift narratives of people, place, race and poverty and support policy leading to equitable systems change.
O’Keefe will begin at St. Thomas on Oct. 16.
“With her strong background and commitment to St. Thomas’ mission, Kenzie brings a great understanding of the needs and possibilities of the program,” said Peter Gregg, chair of the Department of Emerging Media. “Kenzie’s enthusiasm for ThreeSixty is infectious, and we can’t wait to see what exciting developments are coming in the next few years as it continues to grow and reach new students.”
ThreeSixty Journalism is a program designed for teaching storytelling to Minnesota high school students from diverse backgrounds. It offers multimedia summer journalism camps, as well as school year programming.
O’Keefe taught high school journalism for four years at Minneapolis North as part of her role at North News and mentored students at Johnson, Park Center, and Kennedy high schools during her time as a classroom instructor at the BrandLab.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, where she was editor-in-chief of the campus paper, O’Keefe says she looks forward to working with the students, as well as program staff.
“Leading ThreeSixty is a dream role for me,” O’Keefe said. “I’ve seen firsthand the power of the program’s work and believe it has all the potential for an even more impactful and innovative next chapter. I look forward to taking it there in partnership with the stakeholders that make up its strong foundation.”
Housed at the University of St. Thomas since 2001, ThreeSixty Journalism launched at the University of Minnesota in 1971 as the Urban Journalism Workshop (UJW). UJW provided basic journalism training to Minnesota high school students, particularly low-income students and teens of color.
UJW was part of a nationwide effort to increase the presence of minorities in newsrooms in order to better reflect and serve increasingly diverse communities. Today, ThreeSixty continues to serve as a leading “career academy” for budding journalists and is helping shape a future media that is representative of Minnesota’s rapidly diversifying population.