Kimiko Gordon ’06
Born in Japan, Kimiko Gordon ‘06, moved to the United States along with her mother, little sister, and little brother when she was six years old. She recalled, “Moving to a country I knew nothing about, and being put in 1st grade when I didn’t know English, was a huge struggle. Navigating the immigrant journey and being the first in my family to learn the language meant I then had to become the translator.” Kimiko picked up her first tennis racquet when she was about seven years old. An escape from the day to day, Kimiko quickly started playing in junior competitive tournaments.
After attending large public schools in big cities for most of her life, Kimiko found herself at SJA and was surprised by the 12-person classrooms. She said, “I needed the accountability the Academy provided. Once I got to SJA I needed to learn how to participate and pay attention in the smaller classes.” Kimiko was a home-stay student during her first two years at SJA and lived with Marci and Glenn Bostic ‘87 and their then two-year old daughter, Neva ‘19. She said, “The Bostic family were instrumental in my growth. Their unwavering support academically and personally, there are not enough words to express my gratitude. I remember babysitting Neva while they rushed to the hospital to have their second daughter, Isabelle ’21. They will always be family to me.”
Kimiko was the Vermont girls’ tennis DI individual state champion during the 2005 season. She says, “being dedicated to tennis helped me transition to being a high performing student at SJA. As an upperclassman, I moved back on campus and Shondelle Paynter ‘94 had a huge positive influence in my life. She was a pillar for me and added a layer of structure to my life that I needed to grow in my self-confidence and life skills. I still, to this day, make my bed on auto pilot.” After Shondelle passed away in November of 2022, Kimiko was one of the former Sheepcote residents who spoke at her celebration of life.
After graduating from SJA in 2006, Kimiko received a DI college tennis scholarship. During the pre-season, a major shoulder injury ended her collegiate career. She said, “It was really tough for me to accept that chapter in my life was over. I had to learn a new normal and accept that life does not always go according to plan.” Kimiko eventually earned a Bachelor’s Degree in arts, with a concentration on television.
Due to the 2008 stock market collapse, entering the professional world after graduating from college in 2010 proved to be a challenge. With no job prospects, Kimiko walked from company to company with a resume in hand, and finally landed a job as an administrative assistant, for a real estate investor. After learning about this career path, and working her way up the ladder, Kimiko assumed the seat as CEO of the Keller Williams Realty Empire in 2017. She said, “as an underdog, it is possible to make something of yourself, but you have to work for it. Everyone has a genius or something that sparks that passion within, you just have to believe in it.
Since December 2020, Kimiko has been the Director of Operations at RE/MAX Edge in New York City. Her favorite part of the job? “The relationships I form with the agents in our organization. Helping them build their business and seeing them thrive in our company. The toughest part of her job? “In the real estate industry, you have to have a certain mental toughness. Especially navigating real estate in a market like NYC. Hustle and consistency is the key.”
Recently, Kimiko has found a new activity. She said, “I have recently reconnected with tennis. I am in a singles/ doubles league and play 3-4 times a week. While the games are late, usually between 8:30-10:00 p.m., I feel more energized now than I have in a long time. It is a deep passion of mine, and I firmly believe that if you’re doing things that bring you joy, you’ll show up differently in life.”
What is one piece of advice Kimiko has for current SJA students? “Don’t take your experiences at SJA for granted. Be open-minded and take advantage of the resources and opportunities that it has to offer. Most importantly, never settle.”