Kim Anderson Kelleher has worked at some of the biggest titles in publishing: Sports Illustrated, Time, Self, Wired. The most confident dreamer wouldn’t expect to see his or her name on the masthead of all of these revered magazines during a single career, but the 1989 Gibraltar High School alumna has served as the publisher of each during the most turbulent time in the magazine industry’s history.
In the first profile for our collaboration with the Door County Alumni Network, Myles Dannhausen Jr. caught up with Kelleher to talk about her small-school start, big-city experience and the supportive people who have helped her find her path.
Myles Dannhausen Jr. (MD): You’ve moved around several times in your career. What would you tell those entering college, or just starting their careers, about making career-changing decisions?
Kim Anderson Kelleher (KK): I wish there was more of a science, but so much of it is really instinct and how you feel, and whether you feel you still have more to contribute.
Something my parents really embedded in me is that I’m too young to be comfortable. I do remind myself of that often. Publishing has been my staple for 26 years, but I have also done two digital start-ups to push myself out of my comfort zone.
MD: You went from one of the country’s smallest high schools to its largest, most important city. Did you find your small-school background was a benefit or a hindrance?
KK: I actually think it was a huge benefit. It’s very hard to disappear at Gibraltar.
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and went to a much bigger school until seventh grade. I was quiet, very shy, and then I got to Gibraltar, and I had this opportunity to not be that, to recast myself. I really felt my voice had an opportunity to grow and my opinions mattered, and I really found myself at Gibraltar in the comfort of a small town and small school.
Once you find that, it really doesn’t matter where you are, how big the city is or where in the world you find yourself.
MD: Did you have any mentors or teachers at Gibraltar who encouraged you to think bigger than the walls of your small school?
KK: Mr. [Ron} Lang, Mr. [David] Lee and Mr. [Gary] Jones. I felt like they all taught through stories and experiences. They were all hugely captivating to me. Mr. Lang had a unique way of teaching but one that was really powerful to me. I would also nod to my parents who worked hard to make sure my siblings and I all understood that the world is a big place, encouraging us to go out and see as much of it as possible and learn about it as much as possible.
MD: You’re coming to Door County in August to speak at the Women’s Fund of Door County luncheon. How important is a group like the Women’s Fund in helping women personally and professionally?
KK: I’m hugely excited to speak to this organization and flattered to be asked. It’s so important for women to help women. When I was in my 40s, struggling to keep it all together, I realized the help of women around me was really what was missing. I try to tell women I work with that if you’re invited to come work in an organization, that means your voice matters and you need to make your voice heard.