The woman who has been director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for the past six and a half years is voluntarily leaving the job.
Mary Cownie worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, doing “advance work” for events and she served as communications director for the Iowa GOP before she took the job leading the state agency.
The Department of Cultural Affairs oversees the State Historical Building. Cownie unsuccessfully lobbied legislators for an $80 million overhaul of the facility. Cownie has touted historic preservation projects around the state and she revived an office to focus on luring Hollywood productions to Iowa.
Governor Reynolds announced Cownie’s departure and praised Cownie’s work. Cownie’s husband is a state representative. Peter Cownie had been rumored to be among those Reynolds considered before choosing Adam Gregg as her acting lieutenant governor.
Mary Cownie, whose maiden name is Tiffany, is a Des Moines native. She was a community relations specialist for the Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino. She worked for the Iowa Republican Party during the run-up to the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.
This is the second state agency director who has announced their departure since Reynolds took over as governor in late spring. Department of Human Services director Charles Palmer retired in June.