Joan Cochran, Edward and Joan Cochran Family Endowment
Joan Cochran genuinely liked people. “She related to people in an authentic way. Whether it was through her community and civic causes or through her career, she engaged people and people responded to that in a very positive and enthusiastic way,” said her husband, Edward Cochran.
During her lifetime, Joan Cochran’s focus was on supporting others and building a stronger community. She was an advocate for education, and civil rights. “My mother was in many ways a hub for interactions in and among the community, and she was especially passionate about education,” said Chris Cochran, Joan’s son. He recalls his mother organizing neighborhood trips to museums or to see the latest Jacques Cousteau documentary.
In her memory, her family named the new community room in Howard Community College’s Science, Engineering, and Technology Building. “It seemed a fitting tribute. She was always bringing home salamanders, turtles, and mantises. We all knew how to catch and feed a snake,” says Courtney Watson, Joan’s daughter. “Mom wanted to expand our horizons through nature, and the community room is about connecting people to the sciences. It’s a perfect fit.”
Joan’s passion for the community and education led her to encourage her husband to run for the Howard County Board of Education, where he served from 1965–1968. During those years, they both worked towards desegregation. Mrs. Cochran continued to advocate for those issues that mattered to her: initiating kindergarten programs, advancing the rights of women and minorities, and promoting government accountability and transparency.
In the 1970’s, Mrs. Cochran enrolled at Howard Community College to become a Realtor. She joined a real estate firm and became a top seller, winning numerous awards over her career. Her family attributes her success to her innate ability to understand and anticipate the needs of others.
The Cochran family has deep connections to HCC and to education in Howard County. Edward Cochran served on the school board at the time of the college’s founding in 1966, and later as Chair of the County Council from 1971-1972, then as County Executive from 1974-1978. He also served on the HCC Board of Trustees from 1985-1991. Courtney Watson has served on the Board of Education, Howard County Council, and is currently a member of the Howard Community College Board of Trustees. All of Joan’s children, and some of their grandchildren, have taken classes at HCC.
“Nothing has the ability to change a life more than providing access to higher education,” said Watson, explaining why her family created the endowment. “With the cutting-edge academic programs in a variety of fields including science, technology, and healthcare, HCC is educating and training the workforce of the future. That benefits not only the students, but also our broader community. The return on investment of a Howard County citizen's philanthropic dollars is second to none.”
The Cochran family’s support, not only honors Joan, it will ensure access to education for future generations of students. The naming of the space provides funding to the Dr. Edward L. and Catherine Joan Cochran Endowment.
All those who were fortunate enough to know her, appreciate the significant positive impact she had on their lives and on the Howard County community.