Taking Action, With Dana Cowin

Author: Zenna Wilberg / Photos: Valine Brana

For the last several years, Dana Cowin has been at the forefront of the food industry. From spearheading the illustrious Food & Wine magazine as Editor-in-Chief for over two decades, to recent endeavors highlighting female talent in the industry, Dana has an undeniable presence. Her start in the food industry was unexpected, proving that your career may take you in a surprising direction--but that might be just what you need. We spoke with Dana about the importance of evolving and pursuing meaningful work, how we can all do our best to support each other, and the ways we can make positive, impactful choices.

Since leaving F&W, Dana has worked as the creative director for Chefs Club, and more recently, she’s become the mastermind behind Speaking Broadly. Despite working with F&W for several years, lack of inspiration struck, and she knew it was time for a change. She says, “Deciding to change careers was shockingly easy. I’m still a bit surprised! For almost all of my time at F&W, I was bursting with new ideas and schemes to improve and expand the brand. And then, almost miraculously, one day I wasn’t… It was time to renew my creative energy by setting off for a new adventure.”

Eventually, Speaking Broadly was born—Dana’s podcast series at Heritage Radio Network, which features enlightening discussions with talented women in the food industry. “When I thought about who I wanted my guests to be, every single one was female! So I spoke to the team at Heritage and pitched a show that highlights women behind the scenes in the world of food. It was thrilling when they agreed.” Dana’s own successes illustrate the benefits of leading a fulfilling life, and she’s encouraging others to do so for themselves. Speaking Broadly is one outlet designed to accomplish this, and she explains, “With my interviews, I hope to inspire listeners with anecdotes of how smart people overcome challenges and embrace opportunity.”

Food culture is ever-evolving, and currently, this means that more and more people are considering where and what to eat, with impact in mind. “People are focused on ingredients and where they come from, which in turn touches politics, environment, nutrition, policy, immigration. If you look closely at the food culture, you can see the most important issues of the day. It’s this aspect that inspires me the most. That you can vote for good three times a day when you’re eating,” Dana tells us. Undeniably, action is the most important step when it comes to affecting change, whether deciding where you eat, or how to support your fellow BISHes. As a successful woman with an impressive career, Dana knows the importance of encouraging other women to reach their goals. “It comes down to two words. Do something. We spend a lot of time talking about the problem, describing the problem, but instead of commiserating, we should be acting,” she says. “In the same way that we vote three times a day about our food future, every action we take can help empower women. Realize that no matter how small your action is, a million micro-actions will add up to a movement.”

To conclude, I asked Dana for her take on the MISSBISH lifestyle. She said, “MISSBISH reassures me that there is great original content being created to support women in meaningful ways that is also fun and fabulous."

"My MISSBISH is my best friend Cheryl Houser, a documentary filmmaker. We’ve cheered each other on since college, giving each other encouragement and joy. From choosing rugs to choosing husbands and jobs, we’ve been in it together. Cheryl is the positive voice in my head every day saying, ‘You’re going in the right direction. Just keep going.’ Benefiting from her deep kindness makes me always want to be the best person I can be for her and for everyone around me.”

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