Joyce Cowin


Never Stop Learning

Ep. 41 - Joyce Cowin of New York City is a 90-year-old Fellow of the Academy going on 55. She never ceases to amaze those around her with her activities and achievements.

Top Takeaways:

    • How to start a project that supports women no matter how small - why she founded the Cowin Financial Literacy Program for women
    • The importance of education and financial literacy - how she started the Heritage School for kids in Harlem
    • Learning to be helpful and keeping those who help you along the way with stories of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates
    • How to broaden the New York Historical Society to feature women's accomplishments

You will marvel at what she has accomplished in her 90+ years, giving so others could excel!

"I don't think I'm as old as I am, I have this ridiculous illusion that I'm actually younger and I should still be doing things." - Joyce Cowin (NOTE: We don't think it's ridiculous. She's a role model to us all! Nan)


Referred to in publications as "the Rolls Royce of financial literacy," in an article in Education Update, Joyce shows her passion for a project she started as a result of the 2008 "financial debacle."

A quote from the article:  "When I read about the thousands upon thousands of good, honest, hard-working people all across the country, more prominently on the West Coast, who LOST EVERYTHING that they had saved over a life time because they got SNOOKERED that absolutely infuriated me and I thought, if only they had been EDUCATED to look for the red flags and know the proper questions to ask they would not be in these dreadful straits. "The house of your dreams…the one you have struggled a lifetime to possess only 2% mortgage: $10,000 or 20, money up front...HOW CAN YOU REFUSE????

Well, they couldn't and they didn't so they did buy, and in the end lost everything. The gall is that the sellers KNEW they were selling tainted merchandise and the banks were not too upset because they would take over the property and assume that, as had been the recent real estate history, the property would increase in value, so if/when they did repossess, the properties would increase in value. Not nice..and it had an extraordinary deleterious effect on the National economy...but most of all....on those who just did not know the questions to ask."


Her last 40 years have been mainly spent as a sparkplug on various boards and philanthropic ventures, through the Joyce and Daniel Cowin Foundation with grants to the arts, health, education and youth.  She truly cares about people, especially those who are struggling and has founded many endeavors designed to make lives better. Joyce is a trustee of her alma mater Columbia University Teacher's College. She funded The Cowin Financial Literacy Program, a partnership among Teachers College, the New York City Department of Education and the nonprofit Working In Support of Education. Joyce also funded the creation of TC's Cowin Conference Center in honor of her late mother and is the founding funder of TC-affiliated Heritage School, an arts-themed public high school in East Harlem.  She funded the New York Historical Society's Center for Women's History. The late Daniel Cowin was a noted collector of Art Deco, American folk art and 1930s photography and was a trustee of the American Folk Art Museum and the International Center of Photography.

Listen in to hear the wonderful history she and her late husband created both in their professional and personal lives. You will also hear her contribution to helping children and women be at a better place with education and professionally.

Key Moments

She shares the story of her excellent childhood with her success lawyer mother as her role model plus her late husband's history as well [2:25]

She narrates her husband's business ventures history, her history in boards, and how she founded a high school to help needy children [10:46]

How she helped establish a successful women's exhibition to help support women in New York [17:41]

How her interest in exhibiting her husband's vintage photography collection and her support for the financial literacy program are the things she still wants to do [21:31]

She advises younger generations to take advantage of teachers and learning as much as they can [29:46]


Columbia Trustee

Financial Literacy

Anti-Snooker Campaign

The Champion for Financial Literacy

NY Historical Society Women's History Exhibit

Distinguished Education Leader

Personal Financial Literacy for High School Students

Wall Street Journal Article on Anti-Snooker Campaign

Program for New York City Public School Teachers


Lynn Sagalyn

Earl Rose

Carol Lamberg


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