Glenn Cowan is co-founder of Democracy International and served as CEO until his retirement in December 2021. During his time at DI, Mr. Cowan designed, oversaw, evaluated, and advised on democracy and governance programs in 70 countries. He continues to advise on DI programs and to serve on the company’s board of directors.
Mr. Cowan is an expert on opinion research, political organizing, advocacy, legislative processes, local government, election monitoring, and vote count verification. Over the course of his career, he advised government agencies, legislatures, political parties, candidates, trade associations, and corporate and nonprofit clients in the U.S. and around the world. At DI, he has worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department, the National Democratic Institute, the United Nations, The Carter Center, The Asia Foundation, the Organization of American States and others on elections, political parties, legislative strengthening, local government, and research methodologies. In the late 1980s, Mr. Cowan invented the path-breaking, sample-based parallel vote tabulation (PVT) election-monitoring methodology. He is co-author of The Quick Count and Election Observation, a manual on vote count verification for civic organizations and political parties.
Before co-founding Democracy International in 2003, Mr. Cowan ran two public affairs and public relations firms and had senior management roles at a national survey research firm and at an international democracy promotion organization. In the 1980s, he was a senior national staff member in two U.S. presidential campaigns and advised a number of U.S. Senate and House campaigns. Earlier in his career, he was a planning and management consultant to county and municipal governments and served as an elected city commissioner, public safety director, and planning board chairman in New Jersey. From 2001 to 2005, he also served as an elected member of the town council of Kensington, Maryland.
Mr. Cowan received a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers College and did graduate work at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh. He served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam as an infantry officer and as an advisor to USAID (CORDS) in 1971-72.