Kim Sullivan Harwanko
I’m a freelance writer – after going back to college and graduating in my early 50’s with a degree in journalism from Rutgers. After 23 years as a litigation paralegal, those 18-year-olds didn’t scare me. I loved every minute of being in college. As one student told me “Ma’am – you’re ruining the curve for the rest of us.” Who would have thought?
I blog, I tweet, I post for some of the nicest interior designers in Northern New Jersey and am also a contributing writer to local community newspapers. See www.writingkim.com. I’m an active member of the Women’s Association of Morristown Medical Center and a board member for Mansion in May, a designer showhouse.
I founded our book club, Between Friends, in 2004 and began a website devoted to it in 2008 at www.betweenfriendsbookclub.com.
I am an embracer of creativity and curiosity and a strong believer in the power of storytelling.
Speaking of storytelling… at one point in school, we were given a “job assessment” to see what we were best suited for in the future. My top job came out as “circus performer.” I didn’t even know that was an option.
Instead, I spent 35 years in corporate communications where I successfully juggled myriad projects (social media, media relations and everything in between) without dropping a ball; jumped through burning hoops to satisfy demanding clients and gracefully swung from deadline to deadline usually without a net.
In 2010, I picked up a camera after a 30 year span of shooting nothing but family snapshots. Since then I’ve become a Getty Images contributor and do freelance photography, when I’m not working as the director of communications and marketing for a small liberal arts college in New Jersey
Being Puerto Rican in the Bronx may not have been so bad in the 60s and 70s if everyone around you was Puerto Rican too. However, in my case the neighborhood was predominantly blue collar, Irish Catholic during a highly charged racial period in New York City. It made for an anxiety ridden childhood when not in the company and safety of my large extended family. Friends were scarce, but a few stubborn girls stood up against the neighborhood bullies and to this day, we are all still very close friends. Not allowed to go away to college (or camp, or sleep over at anyone’s house…ever) by my overprotective parents, I studied Nursing at a city college. Since I liked medicine and people, I thought it a good professional fit but withdrew after a couple of years when criticized by an instructor for being too personable. Having to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I worked across many industries. I sold life insurance and real estate, worked in banking and trained as stock trader, though none worked out too well. Fortunately, Ma Bell came calling and a 20 year career in telecommunications ensued. I soon married and moved across the river to New Jersey. Chapter 1, was mostly a fairytale for 25 years.
Today, I’m a divorced mother of two wonderfully independent young adults. After AT&T, and a glorious 12 year stint as a stay at home Mom, I ended up in the Pharmaceutical industry. Always a lover of books, I joined the Between Friends Book Club. At the urging of its relentless founder and friend, l agreed to collaborate with her and others on a book about middle aged women in love. Finally, my life’s journey made sense. I have come to believe that my experiences were research for this very book and future others. I was not meant to have one career but many. I can now add author to my resume, thanks to Kim and will be forever grateful to all who have walked, carried and loved me on this incredible trip called life.
I grew up in Midwestern bliss with a cornfield down the road, and two “Cheaper by the Dozen” families bookending my block. The announcement of our move to NJ was met with tears and TV-induced fears—of riots, of congestion, and of “tough” people. Relocating at age 9, I quickly met my future husband (married 29 years), and I fell in love with the state’s greenery, beaches, and people. I am proud to be able to negotiate traffic circles and jug-handles, and to pump my own gas, even though I don’t have to!
I have had a love-hate relationship with writing. It is a passion but also can be a torture. Case in point is my college senior thesis of 150+ pages, on which I labored in hermitic seclusion in a friend’s vacated dorm room for several weeks in order to make deadline. I existed on caffeine and dining hall meals delivered by kind friends–one even sent me a sympathy card via campus mail.
With three young adult children and an approaching empty nest, I am looking forward to returning to writing. A la Tom Clancy, I’ll do corporate insurance by day, writing by night. Totally ready for this next chapter in my life.
I’m a Jersey girl, without the much talked about big hair. I have lived in 7 of the 21 counties in my beautiful state. It is to my utter amazement that I have to admit to saying “I do” to three different men. Sometimes life takes turns that are surprising and unexpected. With my third husband I added 4 “bonus children” to the two I gave birth to. In the ensuing years the family has grown with marriages and babies. By end of summer this year we will have two granddaughters and two grandsons. Truly blessed.
I have worked in, left and returned three times to be a part of my law firm. Starting in my late teens as an assistant to the bookkeeper and over time I became the head of the accounting department and eventually added office administrator to the mix. I’m also a licensed realtor and enjoy helping people find their perfect home.
Having lost my parents at a young age I have a real appreciation and love for spending time with all my family. I love to cook and bake, which everyone enjoys. Reading, gardening, sewing, counted cross stitch and crafts have also been an integral part of my entire life.