TimelineGet InvolvedNominate a History Maker
Home | LawMakers, PoliticalMakers | The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan
Color: blue
Food: grilled lamb
Quote: you are better than no one, but you can be anyones equal.
Season: spring
Yadkinville, North Carolina
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 10/20/2016

Lawyer and retired Senator William “Mo” Cowan was born April 4, 1969 in Yadkinville, North Carolina to machinist William Hall and seamstress Cynthia Cowan. Cowan attended Courtney Elementary School. When Cowan was sixteen years old his father died, leaving his mother to raise his two sisters and him alone. In 1987, he graduated from Forbush High School in East Bend, North Carolina. Cowan graduated with an A.B. in Sociology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In 1994, he earned a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts.

From 1997 to 2009, Cowan worked on the litigation team of the law firm of Mintz Levin in Boston, Massachusetts, eventually becoming a partner in the firm. He served as an advisor on diversifying staff to both Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. In 2009, he becomes Chief Legal Counsel to Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick. Cowan oversaw all legal operations from the Governor’s Office, including advising the Governor Patrick in his appointment of Hon. Roderick Ireland to Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Cowan then served as Governor Patrick’s Chief of Staff in 2011 where he helps develop the Governor’s Budget and pass legislation like Expanded Gaming Act. When John F. Kerry, the incumbent Massachusetts senator, was appointed Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, Governor Patrick appoints Cowan as interim United States Senator until July 15, 2013. Cowan was the second African American senator ever to represent Massachusetts. Cowan was also the first African American senator to serve concurrently with another African American senator. During his tenure, the Boston Marathon Bombing occurred and he joined his senior senator Elizabeth Warren in condemning the terrorist act in Senate Resolution 115. Cowan chaired the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Food and Agricultural Research, and sponsored several bills and sat on a number of Congressional hearings. After his time in Congress, Cowan became Of Counsel to Mintz Levin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of ML Strategies, LLC.

Cowan was a fellow at Harvard University Institute of Politics in 2013. He has also been the President of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association; President of Northeastern University’s School of Law Alumni/ae Association Board of Directors; and active member of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. Cowan has sat on the Board of Trustees at Northeastern University; Massachusetts General Hospital and The Chesnut School.

Cowan has been named one of Boston’s Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” and “Massachusetts Super Lawyers.” In addition to being awarded the Good Guy Award from the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, he received the Building A Better Boston award from the UMass-Boston Center for Collaborative Leadership and the Paul Robeson National Leadership Award from the Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts.

Cowan and his wife, Stacy Cowan, live in Stoughton, Massachusetts. They have two sons, Miles and Grant.

William “Mo” Cowan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 10/20/2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: