by JENNIFER FRAKES | photo by Alicia Jeanne Photography

Cornerstone of the Community


Dave Cowles has deep roots in the city of Vista. He first came to the community as a teenager in 1962 when his mother began teaching at Santa Fe Elementary School. He left Vista to attend Seattle Pacific University and returned to San Diego to earn his master’s degree and teaching credential at San Diego State. “I then moved to Merced, CA, where I was a high school English teacher. I eventually became a school principal and later superintendent of Los Banos Unified School District in Merced County. I returned to Vista in 1998 when I was selected to be superintendent of schools for Vista Unified School District,” revealed Dave. He was thrilled to come back to a place that he describes as having an unparalleled location and feeling of community.

faces_cowles2During the eight years Dave served as superintendent of Vista Unified School District, he passed a school bond to build eight additional schools and eliminated overcrowding in the district. After his retirement, he continued his community involvement as a Vista City Council Member. “I served a four-year term on the Vista City Council from 2010 until 2014. It provided me with the opportunity to become involved with not only the day-to-day challenges of managing a medium-sized city, but also the chance to be a part of developing the vision for the future of Vista,” stated Dave.

Currently, Dave is making a difference in Vista through his involvement on the board of trustees of the Vista Community Clinic (VCC), an organization that has been recognized as one of the leading community health providers in the nation. “The Clinic provides health screenings for people who aren’t sure where to go or how to get health services. Along with outstanding primary care, pediatrics, dental health, and women’s health services, VCC patients now have access to specialty services such as optometry, behavioral health, and chiropractic care,” related Dave.


In his spare time, Dave enjoys spending time with his wife and their family and friends. “We enjoy golfing at Shadowridge Golf Club as a regular activity. We also spend a great deal of time with our three grandchildren who live nearby and enjoy visiting our other three grandchildren who live in Northern California. Grandchildren are a major interest for us,” said Dave. He and Janis also spend as much time as possible visiting national parks and traveling. 

Name: Dave Cowles
Profession: Retired Superintendent of Schools, Vista Unified School District Vista
Family: Wife – Janie Cowles; four children; six grandchildren
Hobbies: Golf, bicycling, travel
Favorite Spots in Vista: Moonlight Amphitheatre, Downtown Vista, The Wave, Shadowridge Golf Course