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Artis Hampshire-Cowan

Academic administrator Artis Hampshire-Cowan was born in Mobile, Alabama on February 5, 1955. In 1976, she graduated with honors from Morris Brown College with her B.A. degree in Business Management. Three years later, she received her J.D. degree from Temple University Law School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduation, she served as Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, whereupon she moved to Washington, D.C. For twelve years, Hampshire-Cowan worked with the government of the District of Columbia. She held such positions as Congressional lobbyist with the Office of Intergovernmental Relations; Chief of the Office of Compliance at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; Historic Preservation Development Expert; and Senior Advisor/Attorney Advisor to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and City Administrator. Hampshire-Cowan also served as General Counsel at RFK Stadium; she served as in-house counsel and the chief negotiator for several sports initiatives including the Redskins/District proposal to construct a new Redskins stadium in the District of Columbia and subsequently served as Special Counsel to County Executive Wayne Curry’s successful construction of the Redskins Stadium in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

In 1991, Hampshire-Cowan co-founded and later served as president of Bright Beginnings, an organization that aims to meet the needs of
homeless children by providing families with childcare and on-site therapeutic and family support services. In 1994, Hampshire-Cowan joined the Board and also served as president (2005-2007) of the Prince George’s Community Foundation, which supports and grants funds to the County’s nonprofit organizations. Hampshire-Cowan, a graduate from the Stephen Covey Leadership Center, is a certified trainer for the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Principle Centered Leadership, and First Things First. She has provided training for boards of directors and executive management in higher education, business, government, and nonprofit community-based organizations. Currently, Hampshire-Cowan is Senior Vice President and Secretary of Howard University. In this role, she serves as corporate secretary of the University; manages the affairs of Howard's Board of Trustees; and plans and manages all official functions of the University, including Opening Convocation, Charter Day, and Commencement.

In 1993, Hampshire-Cowan served as Prince George's County Executive appointee on Superintendent Selection Committee. In 1994 and 1998, she Co-Chaired Prince George's County Executive's 1994 Education Transition Committee. In 1998, Hampshire-Cowan was appointed by Governor Glendening as Chairperson, Management Oversight Panel, Prince George’s County Public Schools. Hampshire-Cowan was granted the Power 150—People Who Make Things Happen Award by the Washingtonian Magazine in 2007 and the Women Who
Mean Business Award by the Washington Business Journal in 2008. In 2009, Hampshire-Cowan was featured in the Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and in 2010, she was named to the 2010 Prince George’s Suite Top 100
“Who’s Who of Prince George’s County and Who’s Who in Black Metropolitan Washington, DC.” Hampshire-Cowan currently resides in Mitchellville, Maryland, with her husband, Ernest. They have
two children, Carri and Ernest, Jr.

Artis Hampshire-Cowan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 27, 2010.

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Interview Date


Last Name


Maker Category
Marital Status



Temple University Beasley School of Law

Morris Brown College

Mattie T. Blount High School

Trinity Gardens Middle School

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran School

First Name


Birth City, State, Country




Favorite Season




Favorite Vacation Destination

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Favorite Quote

Your Word Is Your Bond.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
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Favorite Food

Greens (Collard)

Short Description

Academic administrator Artis Hampshire-Cowan (1955 - ) served as vice president for human resource management, senior vice president and acting president at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She also acted as general counsel of the RFK Stadium authority, and special counsel to Wayne Curry.


Office of the District Attorney of Philadelphia

District of Columbia

Howard University

Leverage Leadership Group LLC

Favorite Color


Timing Pairs

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Artist Hampshire-Cowan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Artis Cowan-Hampshire talks about her paternal family's land ownership

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her father's upbringing and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers baseball games with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her mother's civic involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her family's Sunday routine

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers the summers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls the start of her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan reflects upon her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her education at Lutheran schools

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers her family's activism against segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her paternal uncle's police assault

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan reflects upon her experiences of segregation in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers judging the Azalea Trail Maids contest in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about the political influences in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers school integration in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her activities at Mattie T. Blount High School in Eight Mile, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her summer program in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers her decision to study business

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her start at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her experiences at Morris Brown College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her hairstyle

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers her introduction to African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her decision to study law at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her undergraduate and law school classmates

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes Temple University Law School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers her law school professors

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers her attempt to visit Ghana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her early law career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls serving as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr.'s mayoral administration

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her role in Mayor Marion Barry's administration

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan reflects upon Mayor Marion Barry's achievements

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about the responsibilities of elected officials

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about the importance of workplace relationships

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes the founding of Bright Beginnings

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls Wayne Curry's leadership in Prince George's County, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about the impact of Bright Beginnings in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her career at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan remembers Joyce Ladner's leadership of Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her work in the Prince George's County Public Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan reflects upon her work at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her experiences as Howard University's social events coordinator

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her motivational speaking career

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her board service

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her community in Prince George's County, Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan talks about her children

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes her father's support

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan shares her advice to young female professionals

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Artis Hampshire-Cowan narrates her photographs







Artis Hampshire-Cowan recalls her role in Mayor Marion Barry's administration
Artis Hampshire-Cowan describes the founding of Bright Beginnings
So, you, you really wanted to get out of Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] at a certain point. You thought that it was maybe the best--?$$Yeah, and I think the other thing is that in one of my summer internships while in law school [Temple University Law School; Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] was at the Federal Trade Commission and I met this guy named Ernest Cowan [Ernest Cowan, Sr.], who was working there as an accountant. And he was smart and fun and, and we dated and so we had this weekend relationship and I was curious, you know, whether it was just the weekend or what, and what can I tell you, thirty years later (laughter) we're together and two kids [Carri Cowan and Ernest Cowan, Jr.] later. So, it was, it was--clearly I did not want to be a prosecutor anymore, and Philadelphia was not a place I wanted to live. I really do like a more southern lifestyle, single family detached homes and a place you raise your kids, so Washington [D.C.] was more the kind of city I wanted to live in and so I sought employment opportunities and was in district government for twelve years and had a phenomenal career in the Barry administration.$$So, so, when did you arrive in, in D.C.?$$Nineteen eighty [1980].$$Okay, 1980, okay. So, Barry [HistoryMaker Marion Barry] was elected about what?$$Nineteen seventy-nine [1979]. He's, his--$$Okay, so he was fresh.$$Yeah.$$Okay. All right.$$His administration was one year old when I came, and I have to tell you I met some of the brightest people ever. I know people look at Mayor Barry now and make jokes about it but at the height of his game in the first Barry administrations, it was really a role model. I mean, he recruited outstanding African Americans from all over the country; gave them responsible jobs and great opportunity. I came in 1980 and did legislative work. I eventually became part of a team with Carol Thompson Cole to redo the regulatory functions in the city, I directed compliance, became her attorney as deputy mayor and then she was city administrator. I was her attorney and chief of staff. When the Redskins [Washington Redskins] were at the height of their dominance in the NFL [National Football League], we needed to build a new stadium and I was given the responsibility to represent the city in negotiating a new Redskins stadium. That was an unbelievable experience. Dealing with Jack Kent Cooke, you know, day to day, up close. And then when the deal did not work in D.C., because Mayor Barry left office and Sharon Pratt Kelly [HistoryMaker Sharon Pratt] came in, then there was talk of coming out here to Prince George's County [Maryland] and I had become politically involved and living in Prince George's County and [HistoryMaker] Wayne Curry retained me as his special counsel on negotiating the Redskins stadium deal here. So I still got to work on the Redskins deal even though it didn't happen in--$$So the stadium was actually here in P.G. County?$$Yes, it is. Yes, it's now called FedExField, it was Jack Cooke Stadium [Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Landover, Maryland] when it was constructed. And we had really exceptional--again, this was a Barry attribute, I believe, because I grew up professionally and the Barry administration had been involved in ensuring that there was minority participation in major deals in the District, I was able to write a similar plan here in Prince George's County that proved to be successful in the construction of the stadium in terms of job opportunities, training, apprenticeships, as well as contracting opportunities for minority business.$Talked about some of the activities, but you've done a lot of things. You did, did a lot of things for the city, and you worked for the, the District of Columbia f- until--from I guess 1980 until 1992?$$Let's see. I left the District in '92 [1992]. I did, I left the stadium authority in '92 [1992] and I came to Howard University [Washington, D.C.], and--$$Now, before you, you came to Howard, though, you founded Bright Beginnings [Washington, D.C.].$$Yes$$So maybe we should talk about that.$$Yes. Yes. Well, you know the '80s [1980s] was the height of homelessness in Washington and, and sort of an area that had not gotten a lot of attention was children. Children are impacted by homelessness.$$Now, to tell the truth, now Washington, D.C. was home to a couple of big crises in the '80s [1980s]: the first big crack [crack cocaine]--$$Right.$$--epidemic to hit the nation was here--$$Right. That's true.$$--in the '80s [1980s] with these--$$It's true.$$--skyrocketing--$$It's true.$$--killings and, and murders, you know.$$Yep. Yep. It was a terrible time. And, you know drugs were many times part of the equation in homelessness as well. But there was a woman I met in a program, Leadership Washington [Leadership Greater Washington, Washington, D.C.], Marti Kipner [ph.]. She's a lawyer at par- Patton, Boggs and Blow [Squire Patton Boggs]. She was president of the Junior League and she actually approached me about joining the Junior League because she said she really wanted to bring diversity to the Washington Junior League and--$$Can you describe what the Junior League is for those watching this who have no idea?$$Okay. The Junior League of Washington [Washington, D.C.]--all over the country, they're all over the country. It is an organization that is focused on getting young women, actually under forty, involved in doing volunteer work to improve the community. But the Junior League is also thought to be the elite, the blue bloods of the Mayflower [Mayflower Society]. I mean, it's sort of their, you know, reputation. And so when I was first approached by this, it certainly wasn't an organization I had any interest in joining or saw me spending my volunteer time in their activities, but when Marti approached me as she was coming into the presidency, about how she wanted to truly make it a diverse organization and figure out a way to attract more African American women, I also didn't see my time and energy in being a part of an organization that helped white folks understand black people; that just wasn't where I was at the time. But we enjoyed a good relationship, and about a year and a-half later she called me and said that they were applying for a demonstration grant to start a daycare center for homeless children and needed my help with the city in terms of navigating the building permit, zoning process facilities and that's the way I became involved. I was then asked to be a member of the founding board for Bright Beginnings, the daycare center and I had to join the Junior League to be a board member because they wanted all the board members to be Junior League members. But as a result of that, I really got up close to understand all of the issues in homelessness because the city's policy, of course they housed them in apart- in hotel rooms, basically, but they were required to leave by nine o'clock each morning and could not return until five in the afternoon. So basically, during the middle of the day they were just out and about, and they were out and about with their children. Now, they were--of course, were supposed to be out looking for employment or trying to find resources, and so there was an acute need for a daycare center for homeless children and we you know established it, the demand was unbelievable. I mean, we were, you know, the only facility at the time so there was lots of demands, lots of requirements. And at one point I ended up being chair of the board and the executive director was in a car accident, so I actually had to take on the role of running the center, so I got up close the experience of running a service delivery nonprofit: making a payroll, delivering services based on limited contracts and reimbursement we got from the city, but basically relying on the good will of people to help support, you know, meeting an important cause and demand.$$So, you were the founding I think--$$I was on the founding board of Bright Beginnings (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) You were board president. Right, okay.