Joanne Keene, the current government relations director for Coconino County, will join NAU as executive vice president and chief of staff beginning May 1.

“I am confident that all of my experiences at the local, state and federal government levels have prepared me for this role,” said Keene, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NAU.

Keene will replace Sarah Bickel, who joined NAU in 1991 and served as chief of staff since 2013. Bickel will be retiring this summer.

Keene also has served as interim county manager and worked for the Arizona Governor’s Office, two U.S. congressmen and in the private sector. Keene’s experience includes researching and drafting legislation on education, energy and natural resources.