Kathy Keena

Kathy Keena

First woman to serve as county's top prosecutor

Kathy Keena was appointed Dakota County attorney by the County Board on Tuesday, May 11.

Keena most recently was chief deputy in the Dakota County Attorney’s Office and had been acting county attorney since February. She is the first woman to serve as Dakota County attorney.

The appointment process was prompted by the retirement of James Backstrom on Feb. 27. Under state law, when the elected county attorney position is vacant mid-term, the County Board appoints a qualified individual to serve as county attorney until the position can be filled by voters at the end of the current term. That will be the November 2022 election.

Keena started working in the county attorney’s office in 2000. She worked in the civil and criminal divisions before being named chief deputy in 2019, where she was responsible for managing the daily operations of the office, advising the county attorney and prosecuting high-profile criminal cases, among other duties. Prior to being hired in Dakota County, Keena was Lyon County attorney (Minnesota) and worked in private practice.

Keena was one of two finalists interviewed by the board. The other finalist interviewed was Elizabeth Lamin, an assistant Ramsey County attorney. Thomas Pugh, a third finalist, withdrew prior to being interviewed.

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