Best-Selling Author and Speaker Kimberly Buchanan, ’95, M.A. ’98, joins NIUAA Board

By Eva Richards

kimberly-buchanon-photoBuchanan, 95, M.A. '98, has made a name for herself as an award-winning communications professional, an international best-selling author, speaker, transformation coach and entrepreneur.

When Kimberly Buchanan was growing up in Rockford, Illinois, she always knew she had an interest in the business world. 

“I turned my grandmother's screened porch into my office. While everyone else was playing dolls, I was playing office,” she said with a laugh. “My mother would often bring office supplies home from work, so I could type memos and agendas. I didn't have a specific job in mind just yet, but I knew I wanted a career in a business environment.”
Fast-forward to today, and Buchanan has made a name for herself as an award-winning communications professional with a great position at AbbVie, Inc., one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. 

In addition to her “day job,” she also has forged her own singular brand as an international best-selling author, speaker, business coach, and an entrepreneur through her “Unlock Your Potential” online platform. You can also find Buchanan as a contributing writer for a number of big-name publications, such as The Huffington Post, Thrive Global and Forbes.

In these ways, Buchanan reaches women all over the world, empowering them to use their unique skillsets to reach more of their professional goals outside of their day jobs.

The NIU Alumni Association is proud that Buchanan has also recently been appointed to its Board of Directors.

“I hope to help change lives for the better at NIU,” Buchanan said. “And every step and milestone towards that effort is a victory.

"I think I bring an interesting perspective because I have a son who is a junior in college and another son who is very athletic and will be going off to college in a few years. I see things from the perspective of a former student, a parent, and also inside a large corporation with a robust college recruitment focus."

Buchanan’s affinity for her alma mater drove her to advocate for the University.

“After high school, my mother said I could choose any Illinois college to attend,” she said. “NIU was close to home, yet still a little drive away. Plus, the communications program was top-notch.”

On campus, Buchanan studied organizational and corporate communication and found that she loved the classes. In one class, in particular, she and her classmates were able to work with a real company, which shaped her passion for strategic corporate communications. It was this type of hands-on experience that helped Buchanan identify where she wanted her career to go.

She earned her B.A. in Organizational and Corporate Communication in 1995 and her M.A. in Communication Studies in 1998.

“I didn’t graduate high school at the top of my class with a seriously high GPA or SAT score,” she said. “But I did graduate NIU with a great GPA and an even better GPA for my graduate studies. I had one professor—Dr. Joseph Scudder—who was always very encouraging. He encouraged me to believe in my ability to do well. I wanted to be that for someone, too. So, I became an adjunct professor at a small university, which allowed me to maintain my career during the day, and to encourage others during evenings when I taught my college communications courses.”

Looking back, Buchanan credits her time at NIU for how far she has been able to come.

“The skills I learned at NIU have allowed me to live a great life,” she said. “I feel it’s my duty to give back to what has given so much to my family and me. I think where I sit today is ideally where I’ve always wanted to be. I’ve already been able to check the boxes I had for my career.”

Now that Buchanan controls her own professional schedule, she can take time to serve and give back. She hopes to serve on a few corporate boards in the future, as well as on the NIUAA. 

“Huskies are family,” Buchanan said. “We are resilient, and we never let obstacles stand in the way of success. We have battled through some of the toughest times, often in the public eye, and remained strong. And I believe each student that passes through the University takes a piece of that strength with them, and they go on to do special things in life.”

For more information about Kimberly Buchanan, visit