Lt. Governor and Secretary Jacqueline Coleman
Jacqueline Coleman is an educator, basketball coach, writer, and founder of a non-profit. She is a wife to Chris and a bonus mom to Emma, Will, Nate and Evelynne. Her family lives in her childhood community in Mercer County.
A fifth generation Mercer Countian, Jacqueline was raised in a family where public service was a way of life. She was also raised to offer a hand up to those in need and, as a result, Jacqueline has devoted her personal and professional life to serving her community. She is a tireless advocate for public education and a strong proponent of young women stepping up to be leaders in their communities.
As a basketball coach, Jacqueline has been named Coach of the Year and her career culminated in five consecutive record-breaking seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance.
Jacqueline’s leadership doesn’t end in the classroom or on the court. As an alumna of Emerge Kentucky, she wanted to expand on her experience in that program. In 2013, Jacqueline founded Lead Kentucky, a non-profit that ensures Kentucky’s college women are prepared, encouraged, and empowered to seek leadership positions on their campuses and, eventually, in their professional fields. In its fourth year, Lead Kentucky has empowered 50 campus ambassadors on more than 16 college campuses with 29 different majors.
Most recently, Jacqueline was an assistant principal at Nelson County High School and still is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky.
As Lieutenant Governor, Jacqueline will focus on creating an excellent public education system here in Kentucky that will produce the future leaders of our Commonwealth. She will also concentrate on the many challenges facing rural Kentucky. Jacqueline is determined to give a voice to Kentuckians who feel shut out, but refuse to back down – to build a Kentucky that works for all of us.
Deputy Secretary Mary Pat Regan
Mary Pat Regan of St. Matthews was named deputy secretary of Education and Workforce Development. Regan has served in several key executive positions, including as national vice president for regulatory at AT&T and Kentucky state president of AT&T Communications. Regan has also participated in and provided leadership in a number of Louisville-based community and civic programs during the last 10 years, including Greater Louisville Inc., the Kentucky Chamber, Business Leaders for Education, and the United Way. She also has served as a member of the Board of Directors for Kentucky Educational Television, The Louisville Science Center, the Jeﬀerson County Public Education Foundation and the Louisville Collegiate School. Regan attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Deputy Secretary Josh Benton
Josh Benton was appointed in July 2018 to serve as the Deputy Secretary for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. With more than 15 years of public service, Benton has dedicated his career to strengthening Kentucky’s workforce and building the state’s economy.
As Deputy Secretary, Benton oversees the cabinet’s workforce development agencies, policies and strategies serving as the liaison to education and workforce partners in coordinating and elevating the state’s workforce efforts.
Prior to joining the cabinet, Benton served as Executive Director of Workforce & Community Development for the Cabinet for Economic Development where he was responsible for leading community development and research efforts. His office also led Economic Development’s workforce efforts, including workforce project management, program and policy development.
Benton holds bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Cumberland College and master’s degree in Public Administration from Kentucky State University.
Director - Heather Dearing
Louisville native Heather Dearing has been named director of legislative affairs for the cabinet. Dearing, who has experience in both the private and public sectors, most recently worked as a nonprofit, government and political consultant, and managed the re-election campaign for U.S. Representative John Yarmuth. Prior to that position, Dearing was an executive advisor in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services where she worked on child and youth issues during the expansion of Medicaid.
Before returning to Louisville in 2013, Dearing worked for a decade in California as the executive director of the California Coalition for Youth, an advocacy and direct-service membership organization for youth-serving nonprofits throughout the state.
Dearing earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Transylvania University and a master’s degree in social work administration from San Diego State University.
Outside of work, Heather serves as a member of several nonprofits’ boards of directors including Louisville Girls Leadership, New Directions, and the Emerging Workforce Initiative.
General Counsel - Joanna Decker
Joanna Decker of Versailles has been appointed general counsel and executive director of the Office of Legal and Legislative Services for the cabinet. Decker has worked for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission (LRC) for more than 14 years in a variety of positions. She was most recently the general counsel and senior policy analyst for the House Democratic Caucus where she provided legal counsel to legislative leaders. Prior to that position, she served as chief of staff from 2013-2016 to the House Democratic Caucus chair where she advised committee chairmen and leadership on policy and legal issues.
Decker holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky, College of Law where she graduated in 2001, and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Western Kentucky University
Executive Director - JT Henderson
Prospect resident JT Henderson, who has been named executive director of communication for the cabinet, has an extensive work history with non-profit organizations. Henderson most recently worked as director of development and communications for Nations of Coaches where he led fundraising, marketing and communications from 2017-2019. From 2016-2017, he taught graduate-level courses at Spalding University’s School of Business.
Henderson was the vice president of philanthropy at Family and Children’s Place in Louisville from 2010-2016 where he led the organization in its mission to protect children from abuse. He led all fundraising, donor stewardship and donor communication efforts for the non-profit. Henderson began his career in 2004 with the University of Georgia Men’s Basketball as a program operations coordinator. In that role, he managed a staff of 10 as he handled marketing and communications for the team, and compliance for the program with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Henderson graduated from Spalding University with a master’s degree in business communication, and Western Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in history.