Dr. Joan Apple Lemoine of Hilton Head Island could be described as a one-woman think tank. She spent her entire career working as an educator at the local, state and national levels, working as the chief student affairs officer at three universities before moving to Port Royal in 2003 with her husband, John, to take the same position at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
She has long encouraged her students to get involved in global affairs — a topic she has been interested in for years. Currently, she is on the board of directors of the World Affairs Councils of America in Washington, D.C.; she also is on the board of World Affairs Council of Hilton Head and previously was its executive director.
Recently, the avid bicyclist sat down with Hilton Head Monthly:
Question. What is the World Affairs Councils and why are you involved?
Answer. The Hilton Head chapter is one of 90 across the country. Its mission is to educate, offering programs to keep members abreast of the developments nationally and internationally. Our focus is primarily a speaker program from October to May on different topics. When we moved here and I retired, I was looking for an organization like this where I could continue with my own self-education and get to know other people.
Q. How does the council impact the everyday lives of Americans?
A. It does so in a variety of ways. It provides a structure and an opportunity for people to interact on a small group basis. One of the things that we do here is a “Great Decisions” discussion program on foreign policy. Members come together to discuss 10 topics throughout the year. For me, it’s an opportunity to get together with people from a broad range of experiences, interests and professional backgrounds. It cuts across the mainstream of our membership.
Q. As a national board member, what is your responsibility?
A. It’s pretty broad. We oversee all of the councils in the country and provide direction to them.
Q. What did you accomplish during your tenure as executive director of the Hilton Head council?
A. Well, I accomplished quite a bit. The organization grew tremendously. When the board decided to move to First Presbyterian Church from the much smaller Main Street Theatre, our membership grew from 400 to over 800 people within the first year from the backlog of people who wanted to join the organization. You don’t grow that fast without some attention to detail. I feel like I played a key role in that. I also worked with the board in creating programs.
Q. You’ve been an educator in one way or another your entire adult life. Where did this passion come from?
A. A number of teachers from high school, my peer group, my parents and my grandparents, who were not formally educated. But it all started at home. I didn’t teach in the classroom; I was an educator outside the classroom.
Q. Why are you so active in community organizations?
A. They provide me an outlet for my interests, my skills and my activities.
Q. Are you engaged in something seven days a week or do you have any down time?
A. I think you know the answer to that! I’m either riding my bike with the Kickin’ Asphalt group or doing yoga.
Q. Why do you love Hilton Head?
A. The environment, the folks we have met and are friends with, the opportunities for us in retirement, the medical care last year. It’s home for me now.
Q. What in your life brings you the most satisfaction?
A. I think probably the sense that I’m making a difference in contributing in whatever I’m doing. I give of my talents and enthusiasm, and I’m supportive of my friends and family.
Q. If you could change the world overnight, what would you do?
A. Somehow, I would address the need for respect among individuals — respect for their gender, race, religion and abilities, both physically, intellectually and mentally.