Cowan graduated from Tulane University and attended graduate courses toward a master's degree in psychology at Harvard. Her producing career began as a producer and writer for a CBS News affiliate in Miami, Florida.
In 1995, Cowan co-founded Initial Entertainment Group (IEG) with Graham King. During her tenure as president, IEG had successes that included: an Emmy nomination for Rent-A-Kid starring Leslie Nielsen; Emmy, Golden Globe and People's Choice nominations for If These Walls Could Talk; a United Nations Award for Savior starring Dennis Quaid; and Oscar-winning Traffic starring Michael Douglas. Additional projects produced by Cowan included Very Bad Things and Robert Altman's Dr. T & the Women.
As a songwriter and lyricist, Cowan has written songs for film and television; an album title track for Engelbert Humperdinck, a chart topping hit "This Love is Forever" for Howard Hewett, and several songs for Pamala Stanley.