Keanin was born in Oswego, NY in a hospital overlooking Lake Ontario. Born into a farming family, he grew up in and around Fulton, NY, until his mother married his Canadian stepfather, a high school teacher.
Keanin immigrated to Canada in December 1986 and went to high school in London, ON. He got a political science degree at the University of Waterloo, where he met his wife, Trish (née Lanc), a born and raised Hamiltonian. Keanin and Trish were very involved in student life at Waterloo. In 1998, Keanin was elected Vice President, Administration and Finance of the University of Waterloo Federation of Students.
Keanin then went to law school at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA and practiced law in the Washington, DC area for five years. In 2009 he made the fateful decision to find a more rewarding career path and, together with Trish and their two small children, move his family back to Canada.
His East Mountain in-laws took the family in while Keanin looked for work in the GTHA. It was during this time that he discovered Hamilton’s incredible potential. He knew this was the place to raise his family and find his next professional opportunity.
He started out as Employee #1 at McMaster Innovation Park’s Innovation Factory, becoming Chief Operating Officer after launching the organization. Three years later, he was hired as the President & CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce with the mandate to modernize the then-169-year-old institution.
Over the course of his 9-year tenure, Keanin completely transformed the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce into a relevant, dynamic and financially healthy organization of influence. He fought hard for small businesses and advocated for an inclusive, dynamic Hamilton economy. Through his ability to build strong relationships with all levels of government, his relentless advocacy for LRT led to the resurrection of the project that had only been recently canceled by the province.
During his time at the Chamber, Keanin served on numerous committees of Hamilton City Council, getting a good understanding of the inner workings of City Hall. He provided leadership on the LRT, Open For Business and Government Relations Subcommittees, the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Workforce Development, and the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force. He also served as Chair of the Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee.
Keanin has served as Chair of the Board of Supercrawl and Chair of the Governance and HR Committee of the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority. He has contributed to many Hamilton not-for-profits such as Liberty for Youth, Bob Kemp Hospice, and The Factory Media Arts Centre. He belongs to the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and is an avid Tiger-Cats fan. Keanin can often be found running Hamilton’s trails or working in his garden.
Now living with three children in Hamilton’s Kirkendall neighbourhood, Keanin announced on January 18, 2022 that he was stepping down from his successful tenure at the Chamber to run for Mayor of the City of Hamilton.