An award-winning graphic design artist, Keathley became interested in how art, artifacts, and ancestors communicate within a space, place, or “naturescape.” She has a background in both museum and cultural heritage settings. In 2016, she joined the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center and is currently the Associate Curator of Visitor Experience. Keathley has experience in museum exhibits both virtually and in-house, cataloging, museum education, front desk operations, and guest relations. She has worked on a variety of outreach projects with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Collections Preservation Center. Currently, she is working on 3-D tours of heritage spaces within the GSMNP and on her museum campus.
Keathley’s major heritage focus is being a facilitator for positive change in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in relation to cultural heritage institutions, areas, and “naturescapes.” She has continued to research museum and heritage spaces, natural and/or manmade, and the artifacts/ancestors within those places, using diverse communication channels. Through this research, with an organizational communication lens, she reevaluates the placement of these items within their spaces and whether they should be there at all. Keathley promotes discussions about message meaning and inclusion of diverse voices related to these interrelated items and spaces.
Keathley earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Tennessee. She also earned a master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Management from Johns Hopkins University. In 2022, Keathley retired as a communication lecturer from UT to pursue a doctorate degree in cultural heritage management.