By Elizabeth Liberatore / Photos by Mark Morgan
Kristen Keogh is a doer. You’ll find her saying yes to just about every opportunity that comes her way, as well as documenting her outdoor adventures for her Here With Her community and connecting with the vast majority of the Valley through her multiple broadcasting positions. From an outsider’s perspective she balances all of this, and more, effortlessly. What’s her secret, you ask? Keep reading...
About 45 minutes northwest of Phoenix is Keogh’s hometown of Surprise, Arizona. The city, now characterized by a growing population and constant development, was still farmland during Keogh’s upbringing. With nothing in close proximity to her childhood home – the nearest grocery store was 30 minutes away – Keogh and her four older siblings used their land and imaginations to have fun.
“My most vivid memories include my mom packing up a wagon with bats, baseballs and bases then taking us to a clear spot on our property where we could play baseball,” she recalls. “That was the coolest part of having so many siblings – our crew was big enough to form our own little team!”
Without really being aware of it then, Keogh formed an appreciation for nature early in life. The same goes for sports, courtesy of her parents. There was never not a local sports game playing on the TV or radio in her household. The entire Keogh gang attended Arizona Coyotes games and had season tickets to the Arizona Diamondbacks when the “old-school colors” were the only colors. Her mom taught her how to be a fan (rule No. 1: always cheer, never boo) and her dad taught her the game. Nature and sports were so ingrained in Keogh that careers in both subjects were almost inevitable.
Admittedly, broadcast journalism was never a profession that crossed this broadcast journalist’s mind. Acting and modeling were fun pursuits for a while, but becoming a politician was the ultimate goal. She was well on her way too, working as Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s press secretary in 2015. Her change of heart occurred when she worked as a receptionist at her family’s business during college and a client who had been a photojournalist for years told her she had what it took.
“The conversations we [the client, John Rovell, and I] had truly changed the course of my life,” she reflects.
After graduating from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Keogh moved to Dayton, Ohio, where she assumed a sports anchor and morning reporter position with Sinclair Broadcast Group. Her first on-air report was about Terrell Owens joining the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Being on camera felt natural, but my storytelling was not great,” she recalls. “Once I started connecting to my stories, understanding their impact and delivering them with true concern in my heart, I knew I was doing a good job.”
She moved back to Phoenix from Ohio to do some work with Fox 10 before fulfilling a bucket list goal – living in San Diego. She worked for ABC 10 News in Southern California for two years. In 2017, she happily traded in May Gray and June Gloom for Phoenix’s year-round sunshine.
“I’m thrilled to be back home in Phoenix,” she says. “This is where my family is, this is where my best opportunities are and this where I feel most like myself.”
Keogh is a familiar face to many Phoenicians given all her on-air positions. She is a contributing weather anchor and sports host on 12 News, host of Around AZ on The Social Television Network, an in-game host for the Arizona Coyotes – yes, her parents are stoked about this – and, most recently, the co-host of Driven, a show powered by ClassicCars.com.
Howling with fans during Coyotes games, interacting with 12 News viewers on social media, introducing Around AZ viewers to local business owners, and talking shop with gearheads are just a few of the things that Keogh does daily. Not one day looks like the last, which is something she loves. Above all else, engaging with the various groups that comprise the Arizona community is what makes it worth it.
“The best part of having so many opportunities is that each one comes with access to more people in our community,” she explains. “What I do will always be for and about people.”
“Once I got older and transitioned to an urban life, I realized my inherent need to be with nature. To this day I prefer being barefoot and I feel most at home when I can feel the earth against my skin,” she admits.
For people like Keogh, there is something spiritually revealing about being outside. The absence of distractions, like cell phones and computers, allow outdoor dwellers to connect with themselves fully. In psychology, wilderness therapy is often used to promote self-improvement and healing. Nature has been very healing for Keogh, and she wanted others to experience that healing too. Thus, she founded Here with Her.
Here With Her (HWH) is an online community of women that challenge societal expectations through outdoor activities. They motivate each other to hike that mountain or visit that national park as a means to silence judgmental voices with a kinder, more confident voice. For Keogh, that meant hushing comments that discredited her capabilities based on her appearance alone.
“I realized when I went into nature that I was completely free from public opinion, as well free from my own harsh criticism of my body,” she explains. “HWH helps women gain that freedom, realize how powerful their bodies truly are and is proof that they aren’t the only ones with struggles.”
The health benefits of being outside are plentiful, of course. But health became a serious issue in 2013 when Keogh was diagnosed with an incurable bladder disorder, Interstitial Cystitis (IC). The first two years of living with IC were so unbearable that she fell into a deep depression. Still aching to be outside, but not quite having the energy to get up from the couch, Keogh put a pair of hiking boots by her front door to motivate her. After too many “maybe tomorrows” and “I’ll go when my body feels up to it,” she decided to just do it. That specific hike on that day was the one that saved her.
“My attitude completely changed. I left most of my doctors, ditched the pain pills and started down a path of alternative medicine. I started hiking consistently,” she recalls. “While hiking didn’t heal me physically, it did heal me mentally and I truly believe that mental shift is what helped me get as healthy as I am now.”
Keogh will always have IC. However, she has found ways to make living with it not hold her back from experiencing life.
There is such a thing as work-life balance. When she isn’t in front of bright lights and rolling cameras, Keogh finds refuge wandering the planet’s different landscapes – from hiking a glacier in Iceland to backpacking Havasupai Falls.
But don’t let this seemingly effortless balance fool you, because she admits that she couldn’t do everything she does if she didn’t ask for help. Between her family, friends, viewers and the HWH community, Keogh has plenty of people to recruit for help, which she frequently does.
“I focus and ask for help a lot. I say all the time that this dream would not be possible without the help of my loved ones. For instance, my sister Jackie helps get my prescriptions when I’m too busy so I can always manage my IC. My boyfriend Neil saves me from myself constantly. Whether I forgot a medication or something insignificant like eyelash glue, he is ready to deliver it to me at work,” she laughs.
For more information about Keogh or Here With Her, visit www.herewithher.com.