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|Member of the Houston City Council from District C|
|Assumed office |
January 2, 2012
|Preceded by||Anne Clutterbuck|
|Member of the Texas House of Representatives from the 134th District|
January 11, 2007 – January 11, 2011
|Preceded by||Martha Wong|
|Succeeded by||Sarah Davis|
|Political party||Democratic (council is nonpartisan)|
Ellen Cohen is a Canadian American politician based in Houston. She was a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 134 from 2007 to 2011 and is a current member of the Houston City Council.
Personal life and career
Shortly after moving to Houston, Cohen began serving as executive director of the American Jewish Committee.
For 18 years, she served as President and CEO of the Houston Area Women's Center, which is dedicated to eliminating domestic and sexual violence. In that capacity she managed a $6.2 million budget and a 120-person staff, serving over 6,000 women, children, and men.
Cohen also serves or has served on the Boards of Congregation Beth Israel; Faith Trust Institute; American Jewish Committee; American Leadership Forum; Houston Area Adult Protective Services and the National Violence Against Women Advisory Task Force. Cohen is also a former President of Leadership Houston and the board of the Medical Center Hospital.
Endorsed by Houston Chronicle, the Sierra Club, the Texas State Teachers Association, and other local, regional and nationwide organizations, Cohen was elected State Representative District 134, which includes Bellaire, West University Place, River Oaks and parts of Meyerland and Neartown, in 2006.
Her competitors included incumbent Republican Martha Wong and Libertarian Mhair Dekmezian, a Rice University student. Cohen's campaign focused on improving public education, restoring children’s health insurance, finding solutions to the growing cost of college tuition and lowering homeowners’ insurance rate. During her 2006 campaign, Cohen out-raised incumbent Wong where the election was one of the most watched in the state - her opponent was elected in 2002 during redistricting making the district 55% Republican. Cohen stated during candidate forums where the district should have a representative who puts the residents, constituents, and the issues first, not partisanship first which Wong had done during her tenure. Several campaign ads circulated by Wong before the election attacked the following: the Children's Health Initiative Program (CHIP), immigration, and property taxes.
She was defeated in her 2010 bid for reelection by Sarah Davis.
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Cohen is the recipient of numerous awards for her contributions to the community. In July 2005, she was honored by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as an outstanding contributor to civil and human rights in Houston. In May 2008, she received the Woman of Wisdom Award from the Houston Area Women's Center. Other awards include the American Cancer Society's Texas Advocacy Award; the Vivian Miles Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault; Texas Academy of Family Physicians 2008 Patient Advocacy Award; The Shattered Glass Award from Harris County Women's Political Caucus; Texas Executive Woman's Women on the Move Award; Celebration of Life Honoree by Woman's Hospital of Texas Research and Education Foundation; Leadership Houston Distinguished Alumnus Award; NAACP Outstanding Service Award; the American Jewish Committee's Max H. Nathan Award; an Oral History Honoree by Women of Achievement; the Outstanding Supporter Award from the Wind Coalition; and the Distinguished Leadership Award by the National Association for Community Leadership. In addition, she was named as one of Houston's 50 Most Influential Women by Houston Woman Magazine.
For her legislative accomplishments, Cohen received the "Best Freshman Performance as a Bill Sponsor" from the online political publication Capitol Inside for her work on House Bill 1751 which will provide $25 million toward sexual assault and prevention programs. She had previously been recognized by Capitol Inside for the Best General Election Challenger Campaign in 2006.
Cohen's first piece of legislation which passed into law was to fund sexual assault programs where patrons of sexually oriented businesses would charge an additional $5 - the money generated went to these programs.
- "Representative Ellen Cohen." Texas House of Representatives. Retrieved on November 19, 2008.
- "Representative Ellen Cohen Biographical Information." Texas House of Representatives. Retrieved on November 19, 2008.
- Feldman, Claudia (2006-11-09). "Political novice Cohen made many stops on way to win". Houston Chronicle.