East End Group Launched in Support of Gender Equality


Denise F. Keane, the recently retired general counsel of the Altria Group, Inc., is leading an effort on the East End to launch an organization she is calling S.A.G.E. East End, for Sustainable Actions for Gender Equality. Its first public event will be a “mix and mingle” in Sag Harbor on Saturday, September 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Havens boutique at 8 Main Street.

“Gender equality is not where it needs to be,” she said in a phone interview on Monday. The public’s attention sometimes turns to “terrible stories” about injustice, she added, but that doesn’t often mean progress toward inclusion and diversity. “How do we take that energy and apply it toward sustainable behavior and actions” that improve conditions, she asked, explaining that S.A.G.E. is meant to provide a forum to explore the topic.

“I used to be the general counsel for a large corporation,” she said. “I always found that diversity gave us better business results.” She has been thinking about forming the group for months and, in August, started to build a “nucleus” of people on the East End, where there are “so many talented men and woman” who can contribute to the discussion.

“There really is a power in people looking together for sustainable change,” Ms. Keane said. The Havens boutique will be the site of the first gathering because its owner, Kim-Van Dang, expressed an interest in S.A.G.E. and offered the space, Ms. Keane said.

Altria’s general counsel for 40 years until her retirement last year, Ms. Keane has been a part-time resident of Montauk and Amagansett all her life. She was lauded by Altria’s chairman, CEO and president, Marty Barrington, when she retired for her “legal skills, business acumen and personal leadership” and for having “successfully led the company through many challenging legal issues and litigation in many significant cases. She also served as a role model to our employees and external law firms with diversity and inclusion,” he said.

Altria, formerly the former Phillip Morris Companies, Inc., is a global marketer of tobacco products.

S.A.G.E. East End will be hosting a series of events on a monthly basis to highlight successful women, publicize their stories, engage with the community, and identify sustainable ways to achieve and maintain gender equality.

For more information on being involved in SAGE East End, contact Tia Greene at Liebe Public Relations at tia@liebepr.com.