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Joan Coleman, BSEE 1986
Inducted in 2021

Joan Coleman, BSEE 1986

Joan Coleman describes herself as a life-long learner, a trait she learned from her parents. Raised in Erlanger, Kentucky, in a large family that had a strong work ethic and interest in calculus and physics, Coleman, whose family name is Adkisson, followed two of her brothers into the engineering profession. In addition to her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kentucky, Coleman earned a master’s degree in public and private management from Birmingham-Southern College. 

After graduating from UK in 1986, Coleman joined South Central Bell Telephone Co., which later became BellSouth and then AT&T. She began her career as a network traffic engineer, later holding the titles of industry relations manager, docket manager and product marketing manager before being promoted to director of corporate strategic planning and then director of regulatory & external affairs.

In 2003, Coleman was named vice president for regulatory and external affairs, representing the company externally at the Public Service Commission, in the state legislature, within the telecommunications industry and throughout the community, leveraging technical, financial, regulatory and political know-how. Coleman and her team successfully developed and presented the company’s policy and supporting data before the Kentucky Public Service commission and the legislature, resulting in the enactment of significant telecommunications deregulation in 2006.

When BellSouth and AT&T merged in 2007, Coleman was hired as AT&T Kentucky’s state president. As president, Coleman led cross-functional operation and customer service teams in the state, as well as all regulatory, legislative and external affairs initiatives. Coleman retired from AT&T Kentucky in 2009.

Since her retirement, Coleman has been providing consulting services related to strategic management, team building and executive coaching to for-profit and nonprofit organizations through her management consulting company, Coleman Consulting, LLC. Coleman also has helped the Actors Theatre Louisville, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville Metro Government and her own church develop strategic plans and improve their management. 

She also continues to serve as a corporate director on the board of directors for DDW, The Color House, a leading international natural and caramel food-coloring supplier headquartered in Louisville.  

A long-time board member for the University of Louisville’s University Medical Center (UMC), Coleman became UMC interim CEO in 2016 and helped lead the transition of all operational and management functions handled by KentuckyOne to the UMC and University of Louisville organizations. 

At UK, Coleman serves on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Board and the Engineering Philanthropy committee. She and her husband, Gregg (BSEE 1986), created an engineering scholarship in their name that supports women and minorities in engineering. 

Coleman lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband, Gregg. They have three daughters and one grandson.