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Joel Cowan

Adjunct Lecturer and Turner Chair in Servant Leadership, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech


Joel Cowan was born in the southern United States, graduating from Georgia Tech in 1958, and currently lives in Peachtree City, Georgia. 

Mr. Cowan’s past major business interests have been in real estate development. He is the founder of Georgia’s town of Peachtree City, serving as its first mayor beginning in 1959. He was also the chief executive of its development company through 1976. In addition, he was the developer of other major projects including Phipps Plaza, Snapfinger Woods and Palmetto Dunes. 

For the last 20 years, his primary interests have been international. This involves both for-profit and non-profit work in the emerging economies of Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia and China. These activities focus on trade, technology transfer and merchant banking. Education and leadership training are the focus of his non-profit activities. 

He was formerly a director of World Air Holdings, Inc.; Continental Airlines (NYSE); Interstate General Company (ASE); and IRT Property Company (NYSE). 

Mr. Cowan is an adjunct professor and the Turner Chair in Servant Leadership in the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech, specializing on issues of the emerging world. He is a member of the Board of Councilors of The Carter Center and a former director of the EastWest Institute in New York. 

He is a trustee emeritus of the Georgia Tech Foundation, former trustee of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and former chairman of the Community Foundation of Fayette County. He is also the former chairman of the Board of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School. 

Mr. Cowan is a Presbyterian, has three grown children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He and his wife have lived in Peachtree City since 1959.