WIP appoints acclaimed speechwriter to work with students on sharing their vision for the future.

We are delighted to announce that Cody Keenan has been appointed the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) writer in residence.

Over the next few months, Cody will work with WIP students and alumni/ae in developing their skills to share their vision and aspirations for the future. This autumn, Cody will host a Writer’s Retreat in Ireland for WIP alumni/ae.

Speaking on the appointment Bryan Patten, WIP’s Executive Director, remarked

“WIP students and Alumni are ambitious and optimistic for Northern Ireland and Ireland’s future. Creating that future will require emerging leaders from all communities with empathy, imagination and creativity. Through Cody’s appointment, we are investing in those new voices and providing them with the opportunity to refine their ideas with one of the great speechwriters of his generation.”

Speaking on the announcement of this role, Cody said:

“I’m humbled by this honor, and thrilled to remain connected with the Washington Ireland Program. I’ve had the privilege to meet with WIP students on a regular basis over the past six years, and I’m excited to work with WIP Alumni to help them craft and share their visions for our future. Irish poetry and prose have been a big influence on my own writing, and I hope this residency will, in some small way, sharpen a new generation of Irish voices.”

Cody Keenan has been a speechwriter for President Barack Obama for more than a decade, rising from a campaign intern in Chicago to Director of Speechwriting at the White House. Through times of challenge and change, Cody has helped President Obama craft remarks on every topic for every audience – from tiny backyards in Iowa to the biggest stadiums in the country; from a sermon in Selma to his farewell address. Over eight years in the White House, their collaborations were compared to the works of Abraham Lincoln, described as the “‘I Have a Dream’ speech for the 21st Century,” and categorized even by prominent Republicans as “speeches that every child should read in school.”

A graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard University, Cody’s passion for public service was sharpened as a young aide to the legendary Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In 2014, Northwestern honored Cody with its “Emerging Leader Award,” presented to a top alumnus under age 35, and the Sigma Chi International Fraternity recognized him with its Significant Sig Award. In 2015, Cody’s commencement address at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service was highlighted by the New York Times and the Washington Post as one of the year’s best. And in 2017, CNN’s critically-acclaimed documentary “The End” highlighted Cody as one of the central characters in the final days of the Obama White House. His wife Kristen shares his surprise that he was named by British GQ as one of the “35 Coolest Men Under 38 (And a Half).” Today, Cody serves as Barack Obama’s collaborator on his upcoming book, and as his post-presidential speechwriter.

As Obama once said of Keenan, “I rely on Cody not just to share my vision, but to help tell America’s story. He’s a brilliant writer. He’s relentless.”

Keenan is WIP’s second Writer in Residence, and takes on the role from the award-winning poet Martin Dyar.