After initially studying mortuary science, Vance earned her bachelor of arts in mass communication from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1992. She later studied at Duke University as a Charles Dana Fellow during her senior year, and then entered the field of journalism as a reporter for the The Times Picayune. She later moved to Birmingham and covered Birmingham City Hall for the Birmingham Post-Herald. She moved on from print journalism to become a reporter, producer and account executive at WBRC 6, ABC 33/40, and WIAT, as well as at an ABC affiliate in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1994, days before Vance was to give birth to her first daughter, Alexis, her sister was killed in a highly-publicized triple homicide that was caught-on-tape in Miramar, Florida. Her resulting re-examination of her goals led her to seek a position where she said she could make a more positive change in her community. Vance worked as Senior Public Information Officer for the Birmingham City Council from 2001 to 2003, leaving to accept the position of Vice President of Community Development for the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce. She filled the vacancy left by the retirement of Yvonne Baskin on January 5, 2004.
Drawing on her television experience, Vance served as on-air host for the first segments produced in 2006 for CityVision, a travel and information program featuring area attractions. The program airs on a dedicated channel in area hotels.
Vance is a 2006 alumnus of Leadership Birmingham, a 2003 graduate of Project Corporate Leadership, and a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce program called Institute for Organization Management -- a four-year executive management program housed at the University of Georgia in Athens. In 2006, Vance was named a fellow in the Ford Foundation's inaugural fellowship on regionalism and sustainable development, sponsored in part by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. Vance has served on the boards of 16th Street Baptist Church Foundation, the Leading Edge Institute, the Birmingham Urban League, the Birmingham International Center, Vulcan Park Foundation, the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, the Miss SWAC Pageant and the Martin Luther King, Jr Unity Breakfast Steering Committee.
In October 2007 Vance accepted Larry Langford's invitation to serve as his chief of staff for administration making her the youngest and the city's first African American to serve in that capacity. She was fired by acting mayor Carole Smitherman shortly after Langford was convicted on federal bribery and corruption charges.
Vance is a resident of the Huffman area. She is married to Tremayne Bowie. They have four children, including triplets who were born in September 2008. In March 2009 she threatened to file a lawsuit against Council member Steven Hoyt, claiming that he defamed her.
- "Vance takes a VP spot at Chamber." (December 23, 2003) Birmingham Business Journal.
- Mahoney, Ryan (February 20, 2004) "Chamber hires new VP from ADO." Birmingham Business Journal.
- "Deborah A. Vance" (July 14, 2006) Birmingham Business Journal.
- "Vance to leave chamber position to work with Langford." (October 15, 2007) Birmingham News
- MSNBC Investigates, "Eyewitness to Murder", Hosted by John Siegenthaler (June 2000)
- Kelly, Mark (March 20, 2008) "Pieces of the puzzle." Birmingham Weekly
- Stock, Erin (August 11, 2008) "Birmingham mayor's aide, with triplets on way, doesn't slow down." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (March 21, 2009) "Birmingham, Alabama mayor's chief of staff demands apology from councilman." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (November 5, 2009) "Acting Mayor Carole Smitherman fires Deborah Vance-Bowie." Birmingham News