Roots: Rich was born in Spokane to George and Betty Cowan. His family has a history of military and public service. Rich's grandfather, Martin Knutson, served during World War I and returned to become a public school teacher in a one room schoolhouse. Rich's father, George, served in the Air Force during the Korean War.
Early Interests, Education & Community Involvement: Growing up, Rich had dreams of flying and earned his pilot's license in high school. He also achieved the rank of Eagle Scout before heading off to college. A die-hard Cougar, he attended Washington State University and received his undergraduate degree from what is now the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication (cum laude) and a Master's of Science degree in Human Nutrition. He worked his way through college as a firefighter/EMT.
Family: He is the proud father of two grown children who both graduated from Lewis and Clark High School. Kristin is a professional ice skater with Disney on Ice and has appeared as a principal performer in more than 20 countries. Casey is a CPA with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Documenting History, Making Movies & Creating Jobs: Rich began his television career at KHQ-TV with the PM Magazine show, and eventually became the station's Community Affairs Director. One of his favorite assignments was spending a week with former Speaker of the House, Tom Foley.
In 1990, he created a business plan, secured investors and raised capital to form North by Northwest Productions, which currently employs 45 full-time workers in Spokane and Boise. The Spokane-based company has created more than 50 feature films distributed throughout the world.
Rich himself has directed several movies, including "The Basket," which was shot in Spokane and received among other awards, the Movie Guide Award ("Christian Oscars") for best family film.
Inland Business Catalyst Magazine featured Cowan as one of the "Power 25" business professionals in the region, and credited his company's efforts as holding "powerful potential for our region's further economic growth."
Rich's company not only creates local sustainable jobs and brings millions to our region, it promotes the Eastern Washington landscape and offerings throughout the world.
Community Contribution: While at the helm of NxNW, Rich contributed hundreds of hours of video production services to dozens of non-profit agencies in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, including work for: Women Helping Women, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, Ronald McDonald House, Gonzaga University's Coaches vs. Cancer, YWCA, and many others.
His work in the community and the media industry has been widely recognized and he continues to be a featured speaker at area events. A few activities and honors include:
- Community Colleges of Spokane Vocational Advisory Council
- Leadership Spokane Business Trustee Leadership Award
- Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho Board
- Breckenridge Festival of Film, Best of the Fest Family/Children
- International Family Film Festival, Directors Gold Award
- Movie Guide Award, Best Family Movie of the Year
- Heartland Film Festival, Crystal Heart Award
- 2 Emmy Awards, Northwest Chapter
- Eagle Scout. Rotary Speaker. Licensed Private Pilot.