Our Founders

Peter Cove

Peter Cove, social activist and businessman, is one of the nation's leading advocates for private solutions to welfare dependency, ex-offender reentry initiatives and for meeting the needs of underserved, marginalized populations.

For almost 50 years, he has been at the forefront of innovative demonstration projects designed to mitigate poverty by promoting jobs as a solution to welfare dependency. Mr. Cove began his career in the mid-Sixties, as the nation's conscience turned to poverty issues impacting all populations groups.

After holding key posts in New York City municipal government, he worked for The Community Action Agency in Boston, where he developed grass-roots health, housing and education programs. Later he served as a consultant with Manpower Assistance Project, Inc., a private company partially funded by the Ford Foundation to create community employment systems. He was also a program officer at the New World Foundation in New York City, funding innovative programs in civil rights and education.

With a developing expertise in jobs creation as the solution to social imbalances, Mr. Cove became Director of the Manhattan Project for Wildcat Service Corp., a program geared to the hard-core unemployable. From 1976 to 1983, he was President of Transitional Employment Enterprises. Inc., a private corporation that specialized in placing welfare recipients, those with mental illness and the physically and learning disabled in jobs. In experimenting with alternate approaches to training, he created millions of dollars' worth of private-sector investment for what would otherwise have been a fully government-funded endeavor.

As the founder of America Works in 1984, Mr. Cove has worked to link private-sector investment and employment with welfare reform. Mr. Cove has also devoted his energy to prisoner reentry initiatives, advocating tirelessly for second chance legislation on a national level, to inform policy makers that the work first model of services is the answer for successful reintegration of ex-offenders into communities.

In 2005, Mr. Cove founded the Work First Foundation, devoted to sponsoring projects that offer job opportunities for the underserved, including the untrained and employed worker, displaced worker, refugees, ex-offenders, or any other individual with barriers to employment; advancing their knowledge of and access to the world of work; assisting others to promote these ends, including studying issues leading to economic and social disadvantage.

In founding both America Works and the Work First Foundation, Mr. Cove fully developed the concept of the privatization of welfare-to-work programs and has become the spokesperson and business developer for this, and other causes devoted to the underserved. Mr. Cove has appeared on national television and has been quoted in major newspapers, business and public affairs publications. He has testified on aspects of unemployment before Congressional committees in the House and Senate.

In 1995 The Entrepreneur of The Year Institute gave Mr. Cove its distinguished Socially Responsible Entrepreneur of The Year award for his achievements with America Works. Born in 1940, Mr. Cove holds a BA in sociology from Northeastern University. He is married to Dr. Lee Bowes, Chief Executive Officer of America Works. Mr. Cove is the father of five children and lives in New York City.

Peter Cove has been published in the New York Post, Real Clear Policy, the Huffington Post, the Times Union of Albany, and elsewhere.

Dr. Lee Bowes, CEO

Dr. Lee Bowes is the Chief Executive Officer of America Works of New York, Inc and all of its affiliate America Works and America On Demand companies. Dr. Bowes has held the position of CEO since 1987. She directs all activities of the approximately $15 million annual business. Dr. Bowes was an adjunct Professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Dr. Bowes lectures on Human Resource Management, Social Policy, and Innovative Management Techniques, and has published a book on Human Resource Management with Harpers. She has published articles in The New Democrat, The Entrepreneurial Economy and Social Policy Research. She has appeared on NBC, CBS, ABC,(morning and nightly news) McNeil Lehrer, PBS, and CNN. She has been frequently on CNBC as an expert on Welfare Reform. Dr. Bowes has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Fortune Magazine and Business Week as well as numerous local media outlets. She is also the recipient of the 2011 Stevie Awards for Women in Business's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Bowes is one of the nation's leading experts on Welfare-To-Work and Prison-To-Work Workforce Development policies.In the 1990's Dr. Bowes along with her husband, America Works Founder Peter Cove, were instrumental in educating both political parties about the merits of implementing a national "Work First" policy. She is a frequent guest and speaker at Associations on welfare to work. Most recently she has appeared at The Public Welfare Association, the Democratic Leadership Council, The Renaissance Weekend, and The Association of Community Development Corporations to name a few.

Dr. Bowes began her career in employment in the mid-1970s. While a graduate student at Columbia University's School of Social Work, she formulated her theory that work should be the central social policy. Rather than an emphasizing income support and social services, policies should be directed toward providing employment.

In the late 1970s Dr. Bowes became the Director of a large CETA program placing 2000 people in public sector jobs. Here she was convinced that there should be a connection to the private job market. Public jobs were costly and didn't provide the skills needed by businesses.

In 1978 Dr. Bowes joined the non-profit Transitional Employment Enterprises. TEE Inc. was established by the Ford Foundation and MDRC to operate the national supported work demonstration. It was here that she designed the private sector model which is run by America Works. Simultaneously she got her Ph.D. in Sociology from Boston University. Her thesis was on unemployment and social policy. She developed her theories on hiring, job links and human resources which are described in her book No One Need Apply: Getting and Keeping the Best Workers.

In 1984, when her husband Peter Cove left to start America Works, Dr. Bowes stayed at TEE and expanded the model to new populations, the elderly, the mentally ill, the mentally retarded and the physically handicapped. In 1987 she decided to join her husband as the CEO of America Works and bring her ideas to a larger population.

Dr. Bowes is the mother of two children and lives in New York with her husband Peter Cove.