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Famous: The Extraordinary Career of
David L. Cohen L’81
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Even if Cohen stopped practicing law tomorrow, he wouldn’t have much of a rest; he has, he says, “a desire to stay involved politically, charitably, and civically.” To this end, he has accepted a slew of board positions. At Penn, he is a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as Chair of the Trustee Board and the Executive Committee of Penn Medicine. His civic commitments include being Vice Chair of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross; a member of the boards of the Regional Performing Arts Center, Chestnut Hill College, and the Wistar Institute, to name just a few. He has been recognized with too many awards to list, and Drexel University gave him an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1997.
Cohen is not Arthur Makadon’s secret weapon any more; Cohen has become, as he puts it, “almost famous.” He says being known has changed his life; when he goes out to dinner in the city with his family, more often than not, people will approach him, just to say hello. “It’s a bit of an intrusion on [my] private time with [my] family,” Cohen says, but it doesn’t sound like he’s truly tortured by his celebrity. He has been forced to take some unusual measures, though; he says that he created a new coaching position for his son’s Tee-Ball team, “Second Base Coach,” which puts him firmly in the outfield, away from other boys’ parents who want to schmooze while he’s trying to watch the game.
Life has not slowed down much for Cohen in the years since he was Chief of Staff, partly because he hasn’t fully left City Hall at all. Street appointed him to the fivemember Council of Economic Advisors to the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia; he has a close relationship with the new mayor, who was City Council President when Cohen was Chief of Staff. He recently stepped down from being Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania; he’s still a board member, naturally. He’s also a member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
While some would say that Cohen deserves a nice long rest, he is not ready to stop; not by a long shot. As Executive Vice President of Comcast, he serves as senior counselor to Comcast President Brian L. Roberts, who is himself both smart and powerful. His immediate goal, he says, is to help get Ed Rendell elected Governor of Pennsylvania; the election will be held in November 2002, and Cohen is Chair of Rendell’s Gubernatorial Committee. He refers to personal and professional goals that he has yet to accomplish, and “goals for Ed, goals for Philadelphia, [and] for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
“I think the day I wake up and have nothing else that I want to accomplish in life will either be a terrific day or a terrible day,” he says. “I can’t imagine what you do with the rest of your life when you think that all of your work is done.”
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