Jeff Cohen, former editor of the Houston Chronicle, has been named executive vice president of communications for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF). Cohen will oversee LJAF’s strategic communications initiatives to drive policy change in a wide range of issue areas and will lead a team focused on media relations, digital communications, positioning and national outreach.
“We have long admired how Jeff was able to use the Chronicle and award-winning journalism as an instrument of change in the community,” said LJAF Co-Chair Laura Arnold. “We are delighted that he’ll be helping tell our story as well as elevating the impact of our work.”
Cohen’s arrival comes at a time of remarkable growth and opportunity for LJAF. It has awarded almost $1 billion in grants since January 1, 2011, and is widely recognized as an established leader in a wide range of issue areas including criminal justice, education, and public pension reform. LJAF is also viewed as an influential voice in discussions about how to improve value in the nation’s health care system and how to ensure that governments make public policy decisions based on rigorous, reliable data and evidence.
“Jeff comes to us with an incredible depth of experience in media and communications,” said Kelli Rhee, LJAF president and CEO. “We recognize that all of our work will have greater reach and impact with strategic messaging. We’ll lean on Jeff and his team for that.”
Cohen joins LJAF after a 41-year career with Hearst Newspapers, where he managed distinguished journalists. He was the top editor of the Houston Chronicle and the Times Union in Albany, New York. Prior to that, he was managing editor of the San Antonio Light. Cohen joined the Light as a reporter after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. He was named the National Press Foundation’s “Ben Bradlee Editor of the Year” in 2008, served as a Pulitzer Prize juror six times and has won numerous awards for writing and design. Cohen will be based at LJAF’s office in Houston, his hometown.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Laura and John Arnold Foundation,” Cohen said. “I am extremely proud of my years as a journalist but this is an opportunity to help forge meaningful change in a new way. In the newsroom I often had a front-row seat to problems like those that LJAF addresses, so this is a natural fit. As in a newsroom, the foundation is populated by a passionate group of experts driven to make the world better. It’s an honor to help tell their story and to use the power of strategic communications to broaden their impact.”