Perhaps every generation lives in a time of war and fear, but for many in this country and around the world, things seem particularly grim. Which is why when I sat down with the indelible Jacqueline Coleman she made me hopeful for the future. Jacqueline speaks with such sincerity and passion about her upbringing, being a teacher, her family and being a role model for other women that it’s hard not to be thankful for people like her this time of year.
Growing up in the small town of Burgin, Kentucky (population 964), Jacqueline learned at an early age what it is like to be under a microscope. Her father was a state representative from the time she was four and up through her twenties, which meant she had to grow a thick skin early on.
In 2013, Jacqueline decided to throw her own hat in the ring and run for office. It was something that she had always wanted to do and even though she knew it was going to be a difficult race to win, she still felt compelled to make a difference.
For the last seven years Jacqueline has been teaching high school government and volunteers her time as head basketball coach. She has her masters degree in Political Science and in 2011 she graduated from Emerge Kentucky, an organization that trains Democratic women to run for office. On paper, Jacqueline has all the makings of an excellent representative and when you meet her she is a natural leader. Yet, that wasn’t enough to pull off a win in 2014, but for her, not everything is about winning.
The experience of running for office is never an easy one. You have to raise money, meet with people, attend event after event, take time away from your job and family, and losing might seem to an outsider like the end of the world. But politics is a competition, and just like in sports, Jacqueline didn’t let it get her down. She knew she had to show her students that whenever you get knocked down, you need to get right back up and start where you left off.
By 2015, Jacqueline was already making plans to host a weekend at Centre College for college-age, Kentucky women interested in leadership. Her newly founded organization focuses on encouraging young women to lead at all levels, something Jacqueline found was missing for women in college.
LEAD Kentucky currently hosts a leadership conference once a year in June at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. All college age women from and in Kentucky are encouraged to apply.
Jacqueline Coleman - leader, mentor, teacher