Leaders of Color Alumni Profile: K Durell Cowan

September 13, 2022

The Leaders of Color program launched in 2018 to elevate the tremendous talent of community-based leaders of color. Since then, 116 leaders have emerged from the program ready to bring change to their communities. These are their stories.

Meet K Durell Cowan, a Leaders of Color alum from our class of 2022 in Memphis. 

Please share why you applied to be part of the Leaders of Color program. What inspired you to get involved in civic leadership?

What made me get into civic leadership was growing up in Memphis and understanding what I needed to help me get to where I am early in life. I made it my business to help other young men get what I know I needed when I was younger. I was nominated to the Leaders of Color program by a former alum who saw my work and felt this organization would help me sharpen my skills.

How does your current role, work, or projects impact children and youth in your community?

Currently, I’m the Founder and Executive Director of HEAL 901, a nonprofit organization whose motto and mission is: Cultivating the Minds of Young Leaders.

We are the regional leaders and advocates of Coaching Boys Into Men and Athletes as Leaders, two evidence-based high school programs proven to curb sexual assault and domestic violence. We are also implementing Shifting Boundaries, a coed middle school program that teaches sixth and seventh graders how to create and respect other individuals' boundaries. 

HEAL 901 was awarded funding from the Shelby County Commission to pilot the Safer Shelby program designed to eliminate gun violence in the target area of Whitehaven. HEAL 901 is a state-licensed mental health and substance abuse counseling facility where we see clients for family, group, individual, and substance abuse counseling.

Please share a few sentences about how the program has helped you in your career, with leadership opportunities, and how you are thinking about your future.

Leaders of Color has exposed me to a network of like-minded individuals who keep the citizens of Memphis in the forefront of their mind in everything that they do. I have encountered individuals who are running for school board, county commission, and other offices. Leaders of Color allows us to support each other in various ways. And, even though running for a political office is not currently on my radar, I’m willing to give the citizens what they need from me. I’m pleased to have been a part of this organization and build lifelong relationships with individuals who are willing to help each other reach success.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking about becoming leaders of their own communities?

Don’t think about it. Do it. The time is now. The future leaders need us to step up now and pave the way for them.

Tell us about an a-ha moment you had about your own leadership abilities and how that has changed your vision for yourself.

Learning all the aspects that come with running for a political office makes me see how attainable it is.

Please share a favorite inspiring quote!

Be the change you want to see. -Gandhi

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