The official website of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Council Staff - Jean L W Cowan

Jean Cowan Bio Picture


 Jean L W Cowan
 Director of Ecosystems Restoration Programs



Jean Cowan serves as the Director of Ecosystems Restoration Programs for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council). Created by the RESTORE Act of 2012 and comprised of the Governors of the five Gulf Coast States and Cabinet-level officials from six federal agencies, the RESTORE Council is responsible for restoring and protecting the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands, and economy of the Gulf Coast.    

Cowan has more than 25 years of experience in coastal ecosystem research, planning, implementation, and monitoring. She previously worked with the NOAA Restoration Center where she conducted ecosystem restoration planning and implementation to compensate for natural resources injured by the hazardous waste releases and oil spills. She coordinated NOAA’s participation in the Trustees’ long-term restoration, monitoring, and adaptive management plan development for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) resulting in the Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (PDARP). The PDARP describes the injuries to natural resources and the restoration and monitoring required to compensate for those injuries and served as the basis for settlement of the NRDA portion of this case. Before working on the NRDA, she represented NOAA on the interagency Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration President’s Task Force science coordination team and the sediment management subgroup.  

Before joining NOAA, Cowan worked at the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. In that time, she served in a variety of roles within many of the major ecosystem restoration programs in the State including the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Program and the Louisiana Coastal Area Plan. She conducted restoration planning, implementation, and monitoring and managed up to 30 staff. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Cowan was a member of the State team who developed the first Coastal Louisiana Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection Comprehensive Master Plan (2007). This plan brought together the missions of two separate agencies within State government by creating a strategy to more effectively provide for the sustainability of both human communities and natural resources of coastal Louisiana and gave rise to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.  

Prior to her government service, Cowan worked for 15 years at multiple academic marine research laboratories, including Dauphin Island Sea Lab. This work provided her a strong scientific foundation for her subsequent work in developing and implementing ecosystem restoration programs. She holds a Master of Science degree in Marine Sciences from University of South Alabama and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences from University of Virginia.