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#SPA80for80: Brian Keane, SPA/BA ’89

Brian Keane

Brian F. Keane, former president of American University’s Alumni Association, is on a mission to promote clean, renewable energy sources.

“If enough businesses, colleges and universities began buying just a portion from clean, renewable energy sources, it would really become sustainable in the marketplace,” Keane argues.

Keane is not only a thought-leader in the movement towards renewable energy sources; he is actively championing the charge as the founder and president of SmartPower.

This award-winning nonprofit organization is dedicated to showing Americans how they can buy clean energy and how they can be energy efficient. Through SmartPower, Keane has partnered up with state agencies, private companies, and the federal government, spreading the word that clean energy works and is easily attainable. The organization’s relentless renewables marketing campaigns earned it the nickname, “Mad Men for an eco-conscious generation.”

In 2011, AU honored Keane by presenting him with the inaugural Alumni Eagle Award. The award recognizes alumni who have rendered outstanding service to AU and the Alumni Association. Keane served as president of the AU Alumni Board for four years and led the Alumni Association through some big transitions, including the expansion of the board and the introduction of an open application process. He was also a key voice in the development of the university's strategic plan.

Keane graduated from the School of Public Affairs in 1989, earning a bachelor of arts in political science. He honed his expertise in management and political organizing, leading him to become a congressional aide to Representative Les Aspin (D-WI) and an advisor for the late Senator Paul Tsongas (D-MA).

In 2002, he briefly ran as a candidate in Massachusetts’ State Senate. He sits on the board of directors of the Vermont-based Clean Energy Group and on the Board of the Center for The Environment here at AU. He is also a member of the SPA Dean’s Council.

This past November, the People’s Action For Clean Energy (PACE) honored Keane with a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” And earlier this year Wealth and Finance International named his organization, SmartPower, “The Best Non Profit Marketing Firm in the US”.


“My classes at SPA taught me that ‘all politics is local.’ And coincidentally, so too, with clean energy and energy efficiency. The underpinnings of the campaigns we undertake across the nation are predicated on the real world experiences that SPA offered me in political campaigns and my work on Capitol Hill. It’s no stretch to say that any success we’ve had with SmartPower is directly attributable to American University and SPA.”