Joel Cowan holds Georgia Tech's William B. Turner Chair in Servant Leadership and is an adjunct professor for the College of Management and the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Owner of the investment company Habersham & Cowan, Inc., he founded Georgia's Peachtree City, serving as the town's first mayor from 1959 to 1963. He served as CEO of Peachtree City's development company through 1976.
Cowan also has developed such projects as Phipps Plaza, Snapfinger Woods, and Palmetto Dunes. A member of the Society of International Business Fellows and the Carter Center's Board of Councilors, Cowan has shifted his focus in recent years from real-estate development to international activities. He does trade, technology transfer and merchant banking in the Netherlands and the emerging economies of Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia and China. His nonprofit contributions in these same regions include education and leadership training.
Cowan is currently a director of World Airways Holdings, Inc. He also directs the EastWest Institute in New York and the Center for International Leadership in Washington, DC. He has held leadership positions with the Atlanta and Georgia Chambers of Commerce, and was the founding chairman of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.