Human Resources and Small Business & Startups

Q&A: Shannon Cohen

May 5, 2015
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Shannon Cohen
Shannon Cohen. Courtesy Community Ventures

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Shannon Cohen is a strategist, innovator and inspirational leader with a penchant for helping clients shine.

Cohen is the founder and principal of Community Ventures in Grand Rapids and has spent the past 16 years of her career giving leadership to local and regional philanthropic and community efforts.

She has created, managed and scaled several movements, initiatives and incubator projects designed to foster community renewal and stem public health ills with a special focus on youth.

Biggest career break?

Birthing the Above the Influence-Kent County movement. What started as a thought/dream I had during a conference workshop, morphed into the formation of one of the most acclaimed, dynamic and collaborative youth movements in the nation. Having the opportunity to serve as an architect and connector of many sectors and entities that helped that movement go from good to great was amazing!

Proudest moment?

Being invited by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to speak before a bi-partisan Senate committee on local successes in my work with community youth

Best advice you’ve ever received?

“Some people won’t love you no matter what you do, and some people won’t stop loving you no matter what you do. Go where the love is.”

How did you make your first dollar?

My grandparents owned a collision shop in Detroit. I earned my first dollar helping in the office at their collision shop.

Most-treasured possession?

Possessions can come and go, so what I treasure most is my family.

Dream job?

My dream is to work on projects that connect at the intersection of joy and purpose. I find that I am most dynamic and yield the most dynamic results for clients I serve when I work from the intersection of joy, purpose and expertise.

If I were president for a day, I would . . . ?

I would use a national platform to expand a sense of shared destiny. Wicked problems and systemic issues facing our communities and children need to matter to all regardless of zip code, race, socioeconomic status, etc.

Last book you’ve read?

“Community: The Structure of Belonging” by Peter Block

Last thing you Googled?

Potty training tidbits. My husband and I are beginning to work on potty training with our 15-month-old son.

Your worst habit?

Putting myself in last place/self-care

To unwind, I like to . . . ?

Read fiction and autobiographies, travel, plan projects using Pinterest.

Dream vacation?

A two-week vacation to Savannah and the islands off of the Georgia coast

Favorite food?

Peach cobbler

Person you most admire?

I admire people that sow their lives and dream big to improve the quality of life for all. I get inspired by people whose lives and careers reflect character, competence and compassion.

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