By Jueseppi B.
William “Mo” Cowan (born April 1969) is an American lawyer and politician. He is the United States Senator-designate from Massachusetts. He previously served as legal counsel and chief of staff to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Patrick appointed him on January 30, 2013, to fill the Senate vacancy created by John Kerry, who resigned from the Senate effective February 1 to become Secretary of State. He is scheduled to take office on February 1.
Upon being sworn in, Cowan will become the eighth African-American United States Senator and the second from Massachusetts after Edward Brooke. He will also be one of two African-American Senators in the 113th Congress, along with Republican South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
Early life and education
Raised in rural Yadkinville, North Carolina, Cowan is the son of a machinist and a seamstress. His father died when he was 16 years old.
Cowan graduated from Forbush High School, and became the first graduate of his high school to attend Duke University. He originally planned to become a doctor, but changed his career plans and graduated from Duke with a degree in sociology. He then earned a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston in 1994. His assignments in Northeastern’s cooperative program, which provides students with work experience as part of its educational program, included stints in the office of a state trial court, at North Carolina Prison Legal Services, and with the Palm Beach County Public Defender’s Office.
In 1997, Cowan joined the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo as an associate. There he practiced civil litigation and became a partner. He helped Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney identify African-American candidates for judgeship’s after Romney was criticized for his appointees’ lack of diversity.
Cowan left Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo to join Deval Patrick‘s administration in 2009. As Patrick’s counsel, Cowan was responsible for the legal operations of the executive branch and oversaw the governor’s judicial nominations, including that of Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court Roderick Ireland. His principal projects as staff included legislation to contain the growth of health care costs and to expand gaming, as well as investigating and reorganizing the state Parole Board.
Cowan served as Patrick’s chief legal counsel for two years and then as chief of staff from January 2011 until November 2012, when he announced plans to return to the private sector. He continued to serve the governor as a senior adviser until his Senate appointment. When appointed to the Senate, he said he had no intention of seeking public office once his interim appointment expired. He said: “This is going to be a very short political career. I am not running for office. I’m not a candidate for public service at any time today or in the future.” Until his appointment, the U.S. Senate had never had more than one African-American member at one time.
In 2003, Boston Business Journal named him to its list of “40 under 40″, a select group of younger business and civic leaders. He is the former president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Northeastern University.
He is married to Stacy Cowan. She also is a lawyer. They have two sons and live in Stoughton, Massachusetts.
|William “Mo” Cowan|
|United States Senator-designate
February 1, 2013
|Appointed by||Deval Patrick|
|Born||April 1969 (age 43)
Yadkinville, North Carolina,
|Alma mater||Duke University
United States Senator (Class 2) from Massachusetts
February 1, 2013
Served alongside: Elizabeth Warren
With the appointments of Tim Scott from South Carolina and William “Mo” Cowan of Massachusetts, the U.S. Senate has seen 8 African American senators. In 2004 Barack Obama became the third and most recent popularly elected black senator. Until 2013, however, the senate has never had more than one black senator serving at a time.
William “Mo” Cowan served as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s chief of staff since 2009. He was appointed to the senate on Jan. 30, replacing John Kerry who is now Sec. of State.
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