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The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan

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Information about The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan

Profile image of The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Grilled Lamb
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
You Are Better Than No One, But You Can Be Anyone's Equal.

Birthplace

Born:
4/4/1969
Birth Location:
Yadkinville, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Grilled Lamb
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
You Are Better Than No One, But You Can Be Anyone's Equal.

Birthplace

Born:
4/4/1969
Birth Location:
Yadkinville
See how The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Lawyer and political leader William “Mo” Cowan was born on April 4, 1969 in Yadkinville, North Carolina to machinist William Hall and seamstress Cynthia Cowan. In 1987, Cowan graduated from Forbush High School in East Bend, North Carolina. He earned his A.B. degree in sociology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; and received his J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts in 1994.

From 1997 to 2009, Cowan served on the litigation team at the law firm of Mintz Levin in Boston, Massachusetts, eventually becoming a partner. He served as an advisor to both Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. In 2009, he became chief legal counsel to Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, where he oversaw all legal operations for the Governor’s office. Cowan then served as Governor Patrick’s chief of staff in 2011, where he helped develop the governor’s budget and pass legislation like the Expanded Gaming Act. Governor Patrick then appointed Cowan as interim United States Senator until July 15, 2013. Cowan was the second African American senator to represent Massachusetts, as well as the first African American U.S. Senator to serve concurrently with another African American senator. Cowan chaired the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Food and Agricultural Research, and sponsored several bills during his service. After his time in the U.S. Senate, Cowan joined the Boston law firm of Mintz Levin as counsel, and served as president and chief executive officer of ML Strategies, LLC.

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

Cowan was named one of Boston’s Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” and one of “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, have two sons, Miles and Grant.

William “Mo” Cowan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 20, 2016.

See how The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan talks about his mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his mother's education and interests
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls the Ku Klux Klan's presence in Yadkinville, North Carolina, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls the Ku Klux Klan's presence in Yadkinville, North Carolina, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan talks about his father's service in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his relationship with his father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his likeness to his parents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan talks about his parents' family values
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers spending time with his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls attending Courtney Elementary School in Yadkinville, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls a white childhood friend and his father's membership in Ku Klux Klan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls running for student body president at Courtney Elementary School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan talks about adapting to his environment
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his early social challenges, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his early social challenges, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls attending Forbush High School in East Bend, North Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers pop culture in the 1980s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his activities at Forbush High School in East Bend, North Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his social life at Forbush High School in East Bend, North Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes the racial tension at Forbush High School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan talks about the vocational training at Forbush High School in East Bend, North Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his early teaching aspirations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers his father's death
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes the impact domestic violence had on his family
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls working to help his mother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan talks about his medical career aspirations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers deciding not to attend an HBCU
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his decision to attend Duke University in Durham, North Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers his graduation from Forbush High School
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls learning about black history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers the black student groups at Duke University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his decision not to study medicine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers studying sociology
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his decision to pursue a law degree
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers the Rodney King beating
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes his education at Duke University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls President Ronald Wilson Reagan's visit to Duke University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers Harvey Gantt's senatorial race
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers Christian Laettner
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls a party he threw at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan describes Christian Laettner's reputation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls his decision to attend Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers adjusting to living in Needham, Massachusetts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan talks about the academics at Northeastern University School of Law
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers his peers at Northeastern University School of Law
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan remembers his professors at Northeastern University School of Law
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan recalls working at Peabody and Arnold LLC