Army veteran Berdie L. Cowser, Director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Transitional Housing Programs and Services, judiciously forged side-by-side military and academic careers until 2009, when she ended her military career. “I stand on the shoulders of the people who came before me – my parents Deacon Robert and Mother Dorothy Cowser plus my grandparents Elder John (WW1 veteran) and Mother Birdie Cowser and Mr. Levi and Mrs. Minnie Miller.”
A Milwaukee native, Berdie graduated from Washington High School in 1994. She attended Alabama State University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Military Science, graduating with highest honors in 1999. She earned a Masters Degree in Organization Development and Leadership, in 2002, from Springfield University. A Master of Business Administration Degree followed in 2007 from Cardinal Stritch College.
Beginning her military career, she joined the Army Reserves in 1993 in high school and attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, completing her advanced individual training at Fort Lee, Virginia. After earning her first degree, Berdie was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and completed her US Army Quartermaster Officer Basic Course in 2000.
Honors, awards and recognitions began in college and continued from both Army and community service. She received an Army Achievement Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, an Army Service Medal, a Wisconsin First Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ 2009 Women of Distinction Community Service Award and a 2011 NABVETS Community Service Award.
Berdie began her civilian career as a Safety Services Case Manager for the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare in 2000. She then moved to the Center for Veterans Issues, LTD in 2001. She was promoted from Case manager to Supportive Services Supervisor in 2004. After completely leaving the military in 2009, she continued her tenure with the Center for Veterans Issues, LTD, serving veterans “who need a hand up and not a hand out,” she explains. “Being with CVI is my life’s work and I believe that God has appointed me here for a reason. As a servant leader, it is my duty and my obligation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of any and all vets who are placed in our care at CVI.” Her present responsibilities as Bureau Director, include providing oversight and control for more than 50 personnel – staff, transitional job participants, interns, volunteers and the supervision of wrap around services for more than 200 veterans on any given night.
“My parents raised me the right way by instilling loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, personal courage, honor and integrity. Their foundation is what helped me to dedicate my talents and skills to serving in the military and now serving others. My upbringing and military foundation is what has made me who I am today. I am a person who is committed to a life of service. ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’- Gandhi.“
“Committed to serve” Berdie’s tagline compels her to say, “I have put these values into action by doing what I do everyday and that is coming to work to serve the men and women who have served our country unselfishly! Service and excellence have in common perseverance, never quitting and following through to the very end.”
Berdie is a single parent of two adopted children and many nieces who all believe that Berdie is their mom. Berdie co-leads the Alabama State University Alumni Association and spearheads fundraising events that assists Milwaukee students attend college. A board member and financial administrator of St John Church of God in Christ, she sings in the local, district and state choirs.