Jonathan Cowan

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Jon Cowan
Born Jonathan J. Cowan
(1965-05-09) May 9, 1965 (age 51)
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Alma mater Dartmouth College 1987

Jonathan Cowan is the President and a co-founder of Third Way, a think tank. He has over 15 years of experience at senior levels of politics and government, helping to found and run three advocacy and policy organizations, and helping run a major federal agency.

Early life and education[edit]

Jonathan Cowan (also known as Jon Cowan) was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 9, 1965. Cowan was raised in Los Angeles for the majority of his childhood He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1987 with a degree in English. Cowan was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics in 2000, where he taught a course on youth and political advocacy.[1]


From 1989 to 1992, Cowan was Press Secretary and Legislative Assistant to Congressman Mel Levine (D-CA).

In 1992, Cowan co-founded, with Rob Nelson, the organization Lead...or Leave.[2] The organization, with no paying members,[3] was primarily funded by American businessman Pete Peterson.[4] In 1994 Cowan and Nelson co-authored the book Revolution X: A Survival Guide for Our Generation. Lead...or Leave closed in May 1995. During its three-year life, it raised $13 million, and registered 175,000 college students to vote.[5][6]

During the second Clinton administration, Cowan served as Chief of Staff of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, helping to manage a federal agency of 9,000 employees with a $27 billion annual budget. During that presidency, Cowan also served as Senior Advisor to Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo, and as Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs under Secretary Henry Cisneros.

In 2000, Cowan became president of the new organization Americans for Gun Safety, a non-profit organization that advocated for the rights of all Americans to own firearms for personal uses such as sport and protection.[7] The organization was initially funded by Andrew McKelvey.[8]

Americans for Gun Safety eventually combined with the AGS Foundation to become Third Way, a think tank, which Cowan co-founded along with Matt Bennett, Jim Kessler, and Nancy Hale.[9] Third Way is a political non-profit organization that works with the idea of making the lives of middle class society better. Bennett was President Bill Clinton's Deputy Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs. Several former staff members now work in the Obama administration.

Cowan has authored Op-Eds for and been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, TIME, Newsweek, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline and 60 Minutes.


  1. ^
  2. ^ New York Times
  3. ^ Heather McLeod (March 21, 1995). "State of the Debate: The Sale of a Generation". The American Prospect. 
  4. ^ Hans Riemer and Christopher Cuomo (March–April 1997). "The Generation Gambit: The Right's Imaginary Rift Between Young and Old". Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Media (FAIR)). 
  5. ^ Martha Brandt (May 22, 1995). "Politics: Gen X's Dynamic Duo Flames Out". Newsweek. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]