Joan Harshman moved from Baltimore with her husband, Sidney, and their soon-to-be-five children to Nashville to join the Vanderbilt community. To learn about her new city, she became an active member of the League of Women Voters, serving on the board and various committees. When the children entered public schools, she was vitally involved in the PTSA organizations and served on a Human Rights committee sponsored by the city that aimed to facilitate the integration of schools.

Joan’s French connection began when she returned to the university to complete her undergraduate degree and continue on to receive a Master's degree. A language was required; she chose French and soon became hooked. Sidney later accepted a position as Visiting Professor at the Pasteur Institute, which allowed them to spend a year in Paris. When they returned, Martin Deschenes had just founded Alliance Française of Nashville, and Joan immediately became a member. Joan’s passion at AFN has been the weekly conversation group, which she initiated so that members could have one hour of listening to and speaking only in French. Joan can be reached at