The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri: women building better communities.
Meet the Honorable Betty T. Keim: mother, wife, three-time cancer survivor, mayor and civic leader.The list of accomplishments goes on and on for the former
Mayor of the City of Mission Hills, Kan. She always knew she wanted to be a wife and mother, but never dreamed her life would lead to a career in public service.
“Looking back I should have known because I was president of my sixth grade class,” said Mayor Keim, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area in Pennsylvania. “In those days, usually the guys were the leaders. So it wasn’t something that I thought about.”
Mayor Keim and her late husband relocated to the Kansas City area where she finished her bachelor of science in nursing degree at The University of Kansas. She had a successful career as a nurse, but decided to leave the profession to focus on her husband and their five children. She joined The Junior League of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties and even served as its president.
One of her favorite programs she helped develop with the Wichita and Topeka Junior Leagues was forming Kansas Action for Children, a child advocacy organization that researches, passes legislation and monitors outcomes for children. It is still running after more than 30 years. That involvement led to testifying before the White House Convention on Children and Youth and the Kansas State Legislature. Mayor Keim also served as a national area council officer for the Association of Junior Leagues International.
“The Junior League was the finishing product for me in building my leadership experience because it’s where I learned how to build projects in the community,” Mayor Keim said. “The league is known for doing things in the community it serves, but they also do a lot of good for their members in training them how to manage.”
Entering local politics seemed like a natural progression for this leader. She successfully ran for the Mission Hills City Council, serving as president from 1991 until 1993. She then ran for Mayor, a position she held from 1993 until 2001. During her last few years in office she found out she had breast cancer – a battle she fought and won twice along with beating colon cancer.
Mayor Keim is currently a board member of The University of Kansas Hospital Authority and she was involved in the development of its nationally recognized Center for Advanced Heart Care and worked to achieve the National Cancer Institute designation.