David Cohen is a Senior Fellow at Civic Ventures and a Senior Advisor to Experience Corps. He serves as an advisor to both organizations on matters of policy, program, civic leadership and social action. The overarching theme of each organization is to help practitioners use the talents and experience of older Americans to the fullest, thereby enabling the whole society to benefit from their experience dividends.
He also is the Board President of Global Integrity which aids governments and civil society institutions in creating accountable institutions and battling institutional corruption. Mr. Cohen also serves as a Senior Congressional Fellow of Council for a Livable World which works to control arms with practical and enforceable agreements and create a world free of nuclear weapons.
Prior to Cohen's retirement from the Advocacy Institute he served as its Co-Chair from 2001 through 2005. He is a Co-Founder of the Advocacy Institute with Michael Pertschuk. At the Advocacy Institute, Cohen pioneered the Institute's work in its international capacity building programs. He continues to counsel social justice movement groups in the U.S. and abroad. His work extends to countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin and Central America and the Balkans.
Cohen actively participated in the Advocacy Institute’s work in its Leadership for a Changing World Program. It focused on recognizing little known and effective social justice leadership in the U.S.
Advocacy practitioners around the world have translated his writings on advocacy, civil society, leadership and lobbying into many different languages. His writings have appeared as essays in college textbooks and in major U.S. publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers. He was a columnist for United Press International’s Outside View series.
Cohen has been an advocate and strategist on many of the major social justice and political reform issues in the United States since the early 1960s. These issues include civil rights, anti-poverty, modifying the Congressional seniority system, and reforming US political processes by eliminating abuses of power and the corrupting influence of money on American politics.
Cohen played a leading role in the fight for Congress to end its support for the Vietnam War. From 1984 to 1992 he led the Professionals Coalition for Nuclear Arms Control-- physicians, scientists, lawyers, and social workers-- to stop the United States nuclear arms build-up and support workable and enforceable arms control agreements and reduce the military budget. From 1975 to 1981 he served as president of Common Cause, the largest voluntary membership organization in the United States working on government accountability issues.
Cohen's contributions are recognized in biographies and histories of the period. He has been referred to as a savvy activist by journalist-historian John Jacob in A Rage for Justice. Aaron Wildavsky in Moses: The Nursing Father called Cohen "student of leadership and a leader.
The Encyclopedia of Political Parties and Elections in the United States noted that he is "widely regarded as his generation’s leading public interest congressional lobbyist and mentor of lobbyists. He has an established reputation for balanced judgment, scrupulous dealing, unrelenting patience and a gift for forming legislative coalitions."
He has worked to improve the effectiveness of democratic institutions. He never, in consequence, cuts corners in legislative combat, genuinely respecting and winning respect from those who disagree with him.
He is married to Carla Furstenberg Cohen, a founder of Politics and Prose a leading national independent book store in Washington DC. He is the father of two adult children, Aaron and Eve.