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Whitworth University Presents Distinguished Leader Awards to Outstanding Community Members

September 5, 2019
Whitworth University will present Distinguished Leader Awards this fall on behalf of its board of trustees to Betsy Cowles and Stacey Cowles, members of the W.H. Cowles family who have continued its legacy of civic commitment and leadership in Spokane and the Pacific Northwest. The Cowleses will receive their awards Sept. 5, 2019, during Whitworth’s Fall Convocation.

Betsy Cowles

Betsy Cowles joined Cowles Co. in 1992. Betsy’s great-grandfather, William H. Cowles, was an early investor in The Spokesman. Along with what is now The Spokesman-Review, the company currently owns 16 television stations in Washington and across Montana.

Betsy is the chairwoman and president of the broadcasting, insurance and real estate divisions of the company. She has been instrumental in broadcast startups, technology centralization and operational restructuring.

Betsy is also highly active in the community, having served on a number of boards including Greater Spokane Incorporated, Downtown Spokane Partnership and the Fox Theater. She is a past chair of Washington State University Board of Regents and past trustee of George Washington University. Betsy also completed a term of service to the Independent Colleges of Washington. She is currently the president of the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation, and a member of the board of directors for the Laird Norton Co. and Washington Roundtable. In 2017, Betsy was inducted into the Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame.

Prior to working for Cowles Co., Betsy was a lawyer for Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Dartmouth College and her juris doctor from George Washington University.

Stacey Cowles

Stacey Cowles is president of the print media division of Cowles Co. He joined the company in 1989 and has been publisher of The Spokesman-Review since 1992.

Stacey is a director of the Associated Press and serves on the boards of a number of local and regional media, business and nonprofit organizations. He is an active participant in regional entrepreneurial support organizations and has been an angel and venture capital investor since joining the board of Spokane’s first venture fund, Spokane Capital Management, in 1989. He was the founding chairman of the Downtown Spokane Partnership. He is the vice president of the William H. Cowles Foundation, sits on the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation Board of Trustees and serves as the community liaison for the Washington State University Spokane Applied Sciences Laboratory.

Prior to joining Cowles Co., Stacey worked as a news writer for the Associated Press London Bureau and was a senior manager in the business valuation practice and merger & acquisition department of KPMG Peat Marwick in New York. He holds a B.A. in economics from Yale University and an MBA from Columbia University.

The Cowles Co. is a fourth-generation, family-owned holding enterprise that operates a portfolio of legacy companies and invests in technology through its venture capital division. The company’s flagship is The Spokesman-Review, the leading daily newspaper for Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The company developed Spokane’s downtown mall, River Park Square, and is a lead developer in downtown retail and urban and suburban office, industrial and residential property. Cowles subsidiaries include Inland Empire Paper Co., a forest and newsprint manufacturing company.

Whitworth historian Dale Soden said of the Cowles family, “Among the many who have played a significant role in the university’s history, no single family has done more to advance Whitworth than has the Cowles family and its foundation.”

President Beck A. Taylor added, “Betsy Cowles and Stacey Cowles have faithfully stewarded and advanced their family’s historic connections and service to Spokane and the region, and they have embodied what living lives of meaning and service can look like. Whitworth is forever grateful to them, and to the extended W.H. Cowles family, for their longtime support for Whitworth and their love of the city the institution calls home.”

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Scott McQuilkin, vice president for institutional advancement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4386 or

Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or