OU Hires Michael Cohen as New York State Political Director

10 Jan 2012


Today, the Orthodox Union announced its appointment of Michael Cohen to a newly created, full-time staff position dedicated to the political advocacy of the Orthodox Jewish community’s needs in New York State. Mr. Cohen today joins the staff of the OU’s Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) | Jewish Political Affairs as its Regional Director for New York.

According to OU Managing Director Rabbi Steven Burg, “Michael will be tasked with leading the OU’s policy portfolio on the local and state level in New York with a primary focus upon public policies leading to Jewish day school affordability. New York State has the largest number of Jewish day school students in America, which is why the OU is retaining a full-time seasoned political hand to lead our advocacy.”

IPA Executive Director Nathan Diament said, “Day school affordability is a major initiative of the Orthodox Union and the OU is committed as an organization to advance the community’s needs in the arena of political advocacy. We are pleased Michael Cohen will lead this effort for our organization in New York.”

Maury Litwack, IPA’s Director of Political Affairs added, “Michael Cohen has a proven track record of public service which he will now apply full-time for New York’s Orthodox community. We are confident in Michael’s abilities.”

Mr. Cohen declared, “There is little doubt that day school affordability is one of the defining issues of our generation for the Orthodox Jewish community. I am very excited at having the opportunity to join an organization and a team of professionals who both see the critical nature of the work that needs to be done and have the passion and dedication to see it through. The OU/ IPA is working hard to raise the bar in Orthodox Jewish advocacy in state and local government and building the presence necessary to achieve our communal objectives, I look forward to being a part of those efforts.”

Michael Cohen’s background truly reflects the fascination he has with politics and the legislative system. At the age of 20, he earned the attention of the national media when he constructed the first Black/Jewish Relations Conference on Capitol Hill in many years, bringing together the Congressional Black Caucus, Jewish members of Congress and each community’s national leadership organizations. Since that time, he has built a reputation for being a leader in building coalitions and relationships between those and other communities.

Mr. Cohen has served as Chief of Staff to New York State Senator and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson. In that capacity he has been part of a team which negotiated a Senate rules reform package which dramatically increased the openness of state government.

Mr. Cohen has been part of a team that has demonstrated unparalleled effectiveness in ensuring that the issues affecting the Jewish community of New York regain and maintain the prominence necessary to achieve substantive results. From helping to extend the Tuition Assistance Program to rabbinical students, to successfully advocating for a restoration of funding of the Comprehensive Attendance Program, which brings millions of dollars annually into the yeshiva system, to fighting for capital funding for yeshiva buses and protecting job placement and job training programs administered by Jewish community agencies, Mr. Cohen has been front and center in every major issue in which the Jewish community and the State of New York have interacted for more than 15 years.

Mr. Cohen served the Brooklyn Community where he was raised, as a four-term member of Community Planning Board 14, representing Flatbush and Midwood, having been appointed to that position by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Mr. Cohen has formerly held positions on the staffs of Congressman Edolphus Towns, then New York State Assemblyman; current Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; NYC Public Advocate Mark Green; New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene and others. He has served as a campaign strategist to nearly 100 Democratic political campaigns.

Michael Cohen is a graduate of Brooklyn College and holds a Masters Degree in Political Science. He was profiled in the Capital Newspaper’s “Rising Stars – 40 under 40” edition of 2010.

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