Peggy J. McKearney was born in Madison, Wisconsin. She grew up mostly in Connecticut, and then in Massachusetts. Her father was a school teacher, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom before becoming a secretary and then going back to school to earn a Master’s degree in library science. Attending high school in Massachusetts, McKearney fell in love with the Boston Bruins and decided to attend Brown University because she could play ice hockey on the first college women’s ice hockey team in the country. During her four-year tenure on the team, McKearney started every single game as the goalie.
Attending Brown in 1971, she was part of the first class of Brown women after the Pembroke-Brown merger. She studied Anthropology and English at Brown, also becoming involved with the Liber Brunensis yearbook committee, the concert band, field hockey, lacrosse, and the Brown Daily Herald, in addition to her four years of ice hockey. She describes Brown as a “big, fun romp in athletics and photography and writing.”
Upon her graduation in 1976, she pursued a career in photography and writing, which she calls “an inevitable path.” She held positions in multiple local newspapers, including the Scituate Mirror and The Camden Herald. When she was 47, McKearney was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began volunteering at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire where she was treated for cancer and expressed a desire to give back to the place that saved her life. She also volunteered at Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts, teaching visitors about baking.
At the time of this interview, McKearney was the senior digital content editor at King Arthur Flour in Vermont, as well as the Breast Cancer Community manager of HealthCentral.com. She has published a cookbook, The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion, which received the James Beard Awards North American Cookbook of the Year in 2004. Her website has also earned the Website of the Year award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals Digital Media Awards. McKearney has one son and lived in Massachusetts at the time of this interview.