If it’s the third Saturday morning of the month, you’re most likely to find C.J. Keavney at a fine dining restaurant with stunning views of a placid lake surrounded by luxury homes and sailboats in Westlake Village, a tiny suburb about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles. As president of the Democratic Women’s Council of the Conejo Valley (DWCCV), you will find her presiding over the group’s champagne brunch meeting.
A graduate of E.E. Butler High School Class of ’67, Carol Jean Thompson King Keavney began using the C.J. moniker when she became a consultant with the eco-chic fashion line, kikaPaprika Inc. “My late husband, Patrick, used to call me C.J,” she recalled. “So, I decided to use it to project a snazzy fashion consultant image.”
Always informative and frequently entertaining, DWCCV’s campaign brunches are major meet-and-greets for local, state, and national Democratic candidates and other political notables. Many credit C.J.’s program planning and “emceeing” for creating enthusiasm during the meetings.
“I use my Oprah voice to announce the speakers,” said C.J., who was inspired by watching how Oprah Winfrey created exciting rousing when she welcomed guests to her syndicated talk show. “Both the speakers and brunch attendees really get a kick out of it.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity to leave biotech giant Amgen Inc. in late 2007 not only gave C.J. time to catch Oprah episodes but accelerated her involvement with the Ventura County Democratic Party. In 2008, she became club rep for the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley (DCCV) on the Ventura County Democratic Central Committee. She became an elected District 2 delegate in 2010 and was re-elected in June to the central committee, of which she also is a former vice chair.
Since attending her first California Democratic Party Convention, also in 2008, C.J. hasn’t missed a state convention. Her statewide involvement continues to expand with an appointment to the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board, where she helps set the party’s policies.
“I have a real passion for politics, especially Democratic Party politics,” said C.J., whose participation went into hyperspeed during the 2008 and 2012 general elections. She joined a delegation of nearly three dozen Ventura County voters who braved the freezing Washington, DC, temperature to witness President Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Working to register voters at shopping malls, fairs and festivals, farmer’s markets, and in her Newbury Park neighborhood, she helped the Ventura County Democratic Party transform the county from red to blue. “Just six years ago, Ventura County registered voters were predominantly Republican. Democrats make up 42 percent of the county’s nearly 500,000 voters over 33 percent Republicans.”
Recognition for C.J.’s efforts include DCCV’s Volunteer of the Year and the Truman Volunteer Honoree Award from the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley. In October, she received the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Volunteer of the Year, 44th Assembly District, presented by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the largest political party in the US.
While California held the blue wall with an overwhelming 63 percent for the Democratic presidential candidate, C.J. was devastated by the electoral college decision for the 2016 general election. “I have a lot of trepidation over what the next administration will bring; not just for this country but for the entire world,” she said.
Considering her most successful political or social accomplishments, C.J. counts leading DCCV’s 2013 Garden Party Committee, which is the club’s most successful fundraising event. She also chaired the VCDP Endorsement Committee, that first implemented carefully developed procedures for guiding the endorsement of candidates in down-ticket races in 2010. In 2009, she helped DWCCV establish scholarships for young women graduating from the five Conejo Valley public high schools. Renamed in 2015 to honor a state senator whose environmental legislation influenced worldwide emission standards, the “Fran Pavley Scholarship for Empowering Young Women” has honored 31 high school seniors with awards totaling nearly $35,000.
In addition to Democratic Party politics, C.J.’s affiliations include the Ventura County Leadership Academy, City of Thousand Oaks Business Roundtable, NAACP – Ventura County Chapter, Save Our Open Space & Agricultural Resources (SOAR) environmental organization, AAUW (American Association of University Women) – Thousand Oaks, Ventura County Reproductive Rights Network, Ventura County Women’s Forum Collaborative, the nonpartisan Ventura County Women’s Political Council and Friends of the Thousand Oaks Library. She was a founding board member of Wells Bring Hope, nonprofit helping women, and girls in Niger, West Africa, by providing access to clean and safe water.
C.J. supported The Greater Contribution, a nonprofit raising funds and awareness to fight poverty worldwide, by portraying a micro loan recipient from Uganda, East Africa, at various civic and volunteer organizations. She also has performed in a local production of “The Vagina Monologues” and excerpts from “Race.”
Besides working 13 years with Amgen Inc. and two years with kikaPaprika Inc., C.J. also worked two years in advertising sales for professional journals that publish scholarly reviewed scientific articles for SAGE Publications, Inc. Currently, she is working on starting a consulting business, C.J. Communications. She is also considering resuming efforts to earn a master’s degree in public policy.
She keeps in touch with her daughter, Michelle King; sister, Yasmin Thompson; brother and sister-in-law, John & Aletheia Thompson; and other family members and friends in Georgia, Massachusetts, and Florida.