JOANNE SHWED was born in the Bronx, New York, and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1975. She and her husband Tom Ekkens have lived in Pacifica, about 15 miles south of San Francisco, since 1989.
Prior to that, she edited and typeset several early versions of Richard Bolles’s best-selling book, What Color Is Your Parachute?
In 2004, Joanne created, produced, and published Backpocket Crosswords: Handmade Puzzles, a collection of 24 handmade crossword puzzles (not computer generated) with common words and user-friendly clues. She is currently working on the next edition!
Joanne has written several (very) short stories and essays for your reading enjoyment. (The above baby picture is from her story called The Fire Kiss.) Some stories have won writing awards and appeared in magazines and books and on others’ websites.
Joanne hosts crossword puzzle demonstrations in the San Francisco Bay Area. She brings a large, blank crossword puzzle grid, which she created. With the help of the audience, they write a word in one of the spaces, then the next, and, before you know it, the whole puzzle is filled in! It’s a lot of fun and intellectually stimulating for adults of all ages, especially seniors.
From 2009 to 2016, Joanne was a member of BNI Coastside in Pacifica, California, serving on several leadership positions, including two terms as chapter president, visitor host coordinator, and membership committee coordinator. To see Joanne's BNI Video Testimonial, click on this YouTube link.
She is a member of a six-piece band called Paloma with her husband Tom Ekkens and four other friends. She sings, plays percussion, and helps arrange each song.
Paloma regularly volunteers for Bread & Roses, a nonprofit organization founded by Joan Baez’s sister Mimi Fariña. Bread & Roses provides entertainment to “shut-ins,” and the band performs for nursing and convalescent homes as well as for hospitals.
Thomas A. Ekkens, Joanne’s husband, is the creator of TAE Gallery (pronounced “tie”) — an e-gallery of original artwork, photography, poetry, songs, and book arts — and Joanne is his agent!