The winner of the Public Individual Award at this year's East Kentucky Leadership Conference is a modern day renaissance man.
Burlin Coleman spent more than 50 years developing banking in eastern Kentucky and throughout that time he always kept his hands in the community.
As a retired 78 year old man, Burlin Coleman's able to look back on life and put his pre-working days into perspective.
“I don't know if I had vision at that time, certainly not to be a banker,” Coleman said.
He may not have had the vision then, but it must have been something he picked up along the way.
Gene Hale worked under and alongside Coleman for 40 years.
“He has that attribute that most leaders need. He's visionary, he's the best banker and the best mentor I've ever known. It's a great privilege to have Burlin Coleman as my mentor and my friend,” Gene Hale said.
Coleman started out as a file clerk, but after years of climbing the ladder and living out the American dream.
He eventually became the president and CEO of Community Trust Bank.
The words he used to describe that process are all you need to know about coleman as a leader, “Start at bottom, work your way up, and work hard! I wasn't a punch the clock kind of guy. I'd leave when my work was done. It's something I always enjoyed.”
A good leader is contagious and though Coleman wouldn't admit it... it appears his work ethic rubbed off on the rest of Community Trust Bank.
The company became the largest domicile holding bank in Kentucky.
“We worked hard, but we didn't sell out, we wanted to see it grow,” Coleman said.
That same drive pushed Coleman to reach out in other areas too. From coal operators and associates to Pikeville College and the School of Osteopathic Medicine. He saw the need to be involved in the community.
“If Pikeville and Pike County grow, so does the bank,” Coleman said.
With Community Trust Bancorp now holding assets of 3 billion dollars, you could say Burlin Coleman left his mark on eastern Kentucky, but no amount of money can add up to value he left as a leader.
“I tried to reach out to everyone I've come in touch with. I'd like to think I helped mentor some people that are now prospering,” Coleman said.
It is words like these that make the winner for the 2007 East Kentucky Leadership Award for Public Individual - Burlin Coleman