There are a number of Chris Kilbournes out here on the web: This one is a digital communications, marketing, and web development professional who lives in Madison, CT, and whose career also spans extensive work in journalism, law, and IT management.
For more information about my web projects, please visit the website of my LLC, Bicoastal.com.
Starting at the very beginning: I was born in Ridgewood, NJ, and grew up there and in Madison, CT. Upon graduation from Ridgewood High School, I spent four terrific years at Hamilton College, where I served as a member of the Honor Court, and as president of the Psi Chapter of the Psi Upsilon fraternity.
Next came a brief but happy stint as a bartender at the Griswold Inn in Essex, CT, the Dock ‘n Dine in Old Saybrook, CT, and Cervantes Restaurant in Guilford, CT, while seeking a “real job” in journalism.
When it became clear that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal weren’t too keen on hiring English majors fresh out of college, I headed off to the University of Missouri to hone my journalism skills at the oldest and arguably most respected J-school in the country. During my time at Mizzou, I had the good fortune to intern at the Wichita Eagle & Beacon, and later at the St. Petersburg Times & Evening Independent.
To gain some additional reporting and writing experience, I opted for Missouri’s “Plan B” work alternative over a traditional thesis, and I made a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. and the National Press Building. Serving as the de facto Washington correspondent for a handful of small- to medium-sized newspapers around the country, I had the heady experience of rubbing elbows with high-profile journalists, and landing some exclusive interviews with senators and other national leaders.
Upon graduation, I went to work for the St. Petersburg Evening Independent, initially covering city government in Largo, FL, and later becoming the paper’s business writer. I then moved over to the St. Petersburg Times, covering cops and courts in Hernando County—a very wild and woolly time and place.
Bitten by the law bug, I left for Cornell Law School thinking I would either a) enjoy the practice of law and make a lot more money, or b) continue writing about the law, but with a lot more insight and a lot less dependence on the spin of trial lawyers. Once again I opted for Plan B, leaving the law firm of Day, Berry & Howard (now Day Pitney) after a year to become the Hartford bureau chief for the Connecticut Law Tribune.
After three very intense years under the mercurial Steve Brill, I returned to “mainstream journalism,” becoming the legal affairs and federal courts reporter for my hometown paper, the Bergen Record. There I covered many high-profile cases, including the John List murder trial and the Glen Ridge rape case.
It was around that time that this magical medium called the Internet started to blossom into the Worldwide Web—and into widespread use—and I had the temerity to suggest to the Record’s brass that the web was the future of journalism. After some initial skepticism, they ultimately came around to my point of view, and asked me to help build, launch, and manage their initial website (now NorthJersey.com).
My next career move was to Philly.com, the portal website for the city of Philadelphia, including the iconic Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. I started as an online editor and moved up the ranks to assistant managing editor and, ultimately, executive producer.
I returned to Madison, CT, in 2001, taking a job as senior managing web editor at Business & Legal Reports in Old Saybrook, CT. I eventually was promoted to director of editorial development and special initiatives and then to director of the Interactive Media Group at BLR, where my duties included managing websites and email newsletters with a combined circulation of more than 360,000, and helping to manage the company’s public relations efforts.
I also planned and implemented BLR’s social media strategy, including setting up pages and groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as helping draft the company’s internal social media policy.
I left BLR at the end of February 2010, and focused on Bicoastal.com, my LLC that provides online communications services including website design and development, public relations, and Internet and social media marketing.
It wasn’t very long, though, before I found myself missing the security of a predictable paycheck (not to mention health insurance). And so I joined Prudential Financial in 2011 as the intranet and new media manager for Prudential Annuities in Shelton, CT. It was a great job, but two years later I learned about an intriguing opening at the place where I had long wanted to work. In April 2013, I joined Yale University as the ITS website manager and three years later accepted the post of director of digital technology for the Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre.
In January 2020, I left Yale and joined a great company and team, taking the position of web & social media specialist for ASSA ABLOY’s Door Security Solutions division.
What a long,
strange great trip it’s been …