Penney Cowan is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA). As a chronic pain sufferer herself, she established the ACPA in 1980 to help others living with the condition. The ACPA provides peer support and education in pain management skills to people with pain and their families. The ACPA also works to build awareness about chronic pain among professionals, decision makers, and the general public.
Since 1980, Cowan has been an advocate and consumer representative for pain issues. Her numerous awards include the Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Citizen from the Institute for Public Service, the American Pain Society 2005 John and Emma Bonica Public Service Award, the American Academy of Pain Medicine 2013 Presidential Commendation, and the American Pain Society 2013 Elizabeth Narcessian Award for Outstanding Educational Achievements.
She is the author of Patient or Person, Living With Chronic Pain, published by Gardner Press. In addition, she has written all manuals and materials used by the American Chronic Pain Association. She has also served as a Consumer Representative for the FDA/CDER Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee (AADPAC) for 2012, member of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) of the National Institutes of Health from 2013 to 2015, and co-chair of the National Pain Strategies Public Education and Communication Working Group, which is part of the IPRCC.
Cowan successfully established September as Pain Awareness Month in 2002 to raise awareness about the need to better understand, assess, and treat pain. More than 80 partner organizations joined the campaign.