Jackson, MS – Joanie Keller, longtime educator, Carolinas Regional Coordinator Emeritus and recipient of the 2014 Board of Directors Alumni Achievement Award, died November 4 in Summerville, South Carolina, following a battle with cancer.
Keller, who was serving as an adjunct professor at Trident Technical College in South Carolina at the time of her death, was presented with the Board of Directors Alumni Achievement Award during NerdNation 2014, Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention, and served as keynote speaker during the alumni banquet.
“We, who are left behind, are heartbroken by her passing but inspired by her life,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s Executive Director and CEO Dr. Rod Risley. “Forever will her advocacy for our members reside in our hearts.”
Keller was inducted into the Alpha Epsilon Omicron Chapter of Trident Technical College on April 1, 1981. She served as a chapter advisor, alumni advisor and Regional Coordinator of the Carolinas Region from 1991 to 2001, when she was named Regional Coordinator Emeritus.
“As an alumna, Joanie continually gave back to the chapters and the region with the same passion she displayed for Phi Theta Kappa as a member, chapter advisor and regional coordinator,” said Carolinas Regional Coordinator John Sharpe. “She was a friend and mentor to everyone in Phi Theta Kappa and a consummate servant leader, encouraging others to strive for more and helping them in their quest to succeed.”
Under Keller’s leadership the Alpha Epsilon Omicron Chapter developed a reputation for excellence, from producing International Officers and candidates to being perennially among the top chapters in Hallmark Awards. She was recognized as a Mosal Scholar and Distinguished Advisor and served as both a Faculty Scholar and a certified instructor in Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Program.
“She not only believed in the four Hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa, she lived the four Hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa,” fellow Alpha Epsilon Omicron advisor Chris Solomon said of Keller. “She was truly the wind beneath the wings of hundreds of students.”
A committed alumna, Keller was also a charter member of the Carolinas Region Alumni Association and the chapter-based Gamma of South Carolina Alumni Association.
“Joanie was as an inspiration to members of the Carolinas Region,” said Associate Regional Coordinator Beth Boyles Carraway.” This region wouldn’t be the same without Joanie’s influence over the years.”
Before beginning her teaching career, Keller worked as a certified public accountant. After graduating from Trident Technical College, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston and an MBA from The Citadel.
Upon being notified that she was the recipient of the 2014 Board of Directors Alumni Achievement Award, Keller said she was overwhelmed and humbled.
“The network I built, all the professional development, which led to my personal growth – being involved in Phi Theta Kappa is an amazing journey,” she said. “And then getting the students involved and watching them grow – I was always telling them to be all that you can be, and Phi Theta Kappa was an amazing conduit in making this happen.”
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to support the Phi Theta Kappa Carolinas Region Joan Keller Scholarship Fund through the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. Gifts may be made online via the secure Foundation website, by mail to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation at 1625 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS 39211 or by contacting Philanthropy Coordinator Karri Chaney at email@example.com or 601-987-5507.