Staff Voices: Chelsea Cowan
It takes a dedicated team to put together the hundreds of events, classes, and panels put on at the UAFS Center for Economic Development through the Family Enterprise Center (FEC), the Center for Professional Business Development (CPBD), and the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Center (ASBTC), but one person holds key to the entire schedule.
Chelsea Cowan is the program coordinator for CED, housed at The Bakery District in downtown Fort Smith, and is the glue that holds the centers together as they plan and host their immense slate of events.
As a Fort Smith native, Cowan has watched the small town she grew up in blossom into a vibrant community, and loves the role she gets to play in continuing its growth. But growing Fort Smith wasn’t always in her career plan.
A proud alumna, she earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at UAFS, and worked as a paralegal for four years before finding her way back to the university. Her legal experience and attention to detail landed her a job in the chancellor’s office during the COVID pandemic and the skills and relationships she developed there helped her find her place at the university’s newest facility.
“I absolutely love it down here,” she said. “It’s such a hip and happening kind of place!”
Beyond the great vibes at the Bakery, she says she loves working for a boss who is both motivational at the office and committed to supporting healthy work-life balance. "Kendall encourages me to be creative and learn so I can thrive at work, and as a wife and mom.”
“It’s been the best decision ever,” she said, glancing at a photo of her two year old daughter Tobin with her police officer husband Trenton. “I get to be flexible, and I feel really well-rounded,” she explained. “I feel like a super mom and a super employee.”
Cowan says seeing attendance grow event after event fills her with pride, but the potential for future growth is what really drives her.
If you’ve seen her at an event, it might come as a shock that she’s an introvert at heart, whose favorite place is the peace and quiet of a blind. During hunting season the whole Cowan family trade their work-and-school wear for camo and head outside. This deer season, she took down her biggest buck, a “perfect-10,” she said with a grin, though her favorite sport is dove hunting.
If you want to talk deer, doves, or professional development, visit Chelsea at the Bakery District, and sign up for one of their upcoming events.