Black History Month: The Wesleyan Way: Lydia Dorman ‘82 

by Summer (Crick) Aldridge ’14 and Kerison Bailey ’25

Lydia Dorman ’82 is a Washington, D.C. native who found herself in the Bluegrass State after researching colleges with broadcasting curriculums and what she recalls as a serendipitous chance encounter with a Kentucky Wesleyan admissions counselor that led to a campus visit. “The campus broadcasting studios brought life to the profession that seemed to be my calling and I felt I could flourish in an environment with small class sizes,” Lydia recalled. “I was accepted to two large universities and to Wesleyan.  The personalized admissions process, follow-up by the broadcasting professor and my desire to move from a big city to a small supportive community convinced me Kentucky Wesleyan was the right choice.”

While a student, the 2017 Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee and 2014 Alumni Achievement Awardee majored in telecommunications, minored in business and was an active member of Kappa Delta sorority, a Pacesetter (a pom-pom girl for the basketball team) and the camerawoman for home basketball games. She was inducted into Order of Oak and Ivy in 1982 and was named Miss Black Expo by the non-profit, Owensboro Black Expo. A strong proponent of work study and internships, Lydia worked at both the local radio and cable stations – running the camera for the evening news.  After graduating and working a short stint of time at a local bank, she went on to earn her master’s degree in corporate communication with an emphasis in training and development from Western Kentucky University.

“I left Wesleyan a very confident, courageous, adventurous, curious, passionate and well-educated leader,” shared Ms. Dorman. “Wesleyan pushed me beyond boundaries I even knew existed or originally felt comfortable pursuing and I still have strong ties to Owensboro today. Wesleyan is guaranteed to give you more than you can give – that’s an ROI any business wants!”

Keeping up with her high speed and active lifestyle, Lydia began her career at The Walt Disney Company in Orlando, working in a variety of human resource positions. She worked her way up through the ranks of the Communications and Human Resources departments for eight years. Missing her Kentucky “roots,” she accepted a position with Toyota Motors Manufacturing in Georgetown, KY, where she introduced multiple organizational development practices during her 3.5 years there. In April 1995, Lydia began her career with The Coca-Cola Company. After making successive moves while gaining global Human Resources expertise with responsibilities for delivery of HR strategy and people programs in established and emerging markets including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Canada, she settled in as the senior vice president of human resources for The Coca-Cola Company in Japan. During her seven years in Japan, she would also have pan-Asia HR responsibilities during her last two years bringing HR consultation to exciting countries such as India, Singapore, China, Thailand, Australia, and Vietnam to name a few.

Lydia recently retired after more than 23 years at The Coca-Cola Company. 

Throughout her life, Lydia Dorman has always given back to those around her. She has served on several charitable organizations, both domestic and international. In addition, she has shown tremendous support as an alumna of KWC by serving on the Kentucky Wesleyan College Board of Trustees, the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors and the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. She’s returned to campus as a guest speaker to discuss organizational culture, high-performing teams, and corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  In 2016, Lydia was proudly awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree prior to delivering the Commencement speech on “Being your Brand” to KWC’s graduating class.

“I am privileged to work for a company which at the core of its operations and culture is committed to the continued growth of vibrant and sustainable local communities and educational institutions,” Ms. Dorman stated at the time. Even in retirement, The Coca-Cola Company continues to match their alumni gift giving.  “I encourage my fellow alumni to see and utilize matching gifts programs with their employers that will enhance their donations to support the student scholastic needs of our esteemed college.” 

Read more about Lydia in her 2016 Commencement Speaker interview.