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Geoffrey Cowan - Participant

Geoffrey Cowan is a University Professor at the University of Southern California where he holds the Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership and directs the Annenberg School's Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.

From 2010 to 2016, Professor Cowan served as the President of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, where he hosted three presidential summits, including the historic meeting in 2013 between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping of China.

Professor Cowan served as dean of the USC Annenberg School from 1996 to 2007. He is the Walter Lippmann Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Prior to becoming dean at USC, President Bill Clinton appointed Cowan to serve the nation as the director of Voice of America (VOA), the international broadcasting service of the United States Information Agency. He was the 22nd director of the VOA from 1994 to 1996.

In other public service roles, Cowan served on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, chaired the Los Angeles commission that drafted the city's ethics and campaign finance laws, and chaired the California Bipartisan Commission on Internet Political Practices. He serves on the boards of Common Sense Media, the Berggruen Institute, Democracy 21, and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation.

An award-winning author, Cowan's latest book is Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary, which was published by Norton in January 2016. He is also author of See No Evil: The Backstage Battle Over Sex and Violence on Television (Simon & Schuster, 1980), and the best-selling The People v. Clarence Darrow: The Bribery Trial of America's Greatest Lawyer (Random House, 1993). He also co-wrote the award-winning play, Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, a play about the tension between a free press and government secrecy that had a five-week run in New York City in the spring of 2010 and two sold-out tours in China in 2011 and 2013. Cowan won a primetime Emmy in 1992 for his work as an executive producer of the Disney Channel movie Mark Twain & Me.

A graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School, he is married to former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Aileen Adams. They have two children, Gabriel and Mandy.



University of Southern California


Director, Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP)