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Rick Cohen

Rick Cohen just recently left the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), the nation's premier foundation watchdog, after nearly 8 years as the organization's executive director. At NCRP, he played a major role in promoting and shaping the national dialogue on charitable accountability, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee and contributing language to charity legislation considered and passed by Congress. Through his work at NCRP, he was also the nation's foremost advocate for increased levels of foundation "payout", higher standards of foundation and nonprofit ethics and accountability, new standards of transparency and accountability for foundations and charities controlled by members of Congress and lobbyists, and protection of nonprofit advocacy and free speech rights. Despite having left as its full-time director, he remains associated with NCRP as a special consultant on policy and research issues.

Prior to joining NCRP, he was vice president of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in charge of strategic planning. He also served as vice president of the Enterprise Foundation, directing Enterprise's field programs. Both LISC and Enterprise support the work of nonprofit community-based developers. At LISC, he guided the development of the organization's 1995 strategic plan and its expansion into new areas of concentration such as city-based programs in Minneapolis and Jacksonville and statewide or multi-city programs in Indiana, Connecticut, and New Jersey. For the Enterprise Foundation, he negotiated the Foundation's national technical assistance partnership with HUD for training and providing capacity-building assistance to nonprofit community housing development organizations (as he later did for LISC) and led Enterprise into new program initiatives in areas such as Denver, St. Louis, and Buffalo.

Rick has also served in the public sector as Director of Jersey City's Department of Housing and Economic Development and in the private sector as a consultant to nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies. In Jersey City, he created the state's affordable housing trust fund "linkage" program, the state's first publicly subsidized homeless shelter program, and the city's requirement of first source hiring and contracting of local residents and businesses in market-rate development projects. As a consultant, he served as an expert witness for the NAACP and later the U.S. Department of Justice on the U.S. v. Yonkers desegregation case, one of many civil rights activities he has undertaken during his more than 37 years of professional work. He has also worked for the Trust for Public Land in New York City and began his professional career as a planner with Action for Boston Community Development, one of the nation's original anti-poverty agencies.

Rick has also authored or co-authored three books and numerous articles and op-eds for professional journals and newspapers such as the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He serves on the editorial advisory board of The Nonprofit Quarterly ( and writes regular investigative reports and columns for NPQ's print and on-line journals. In 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, he was named to the NPT Power & Influence Top 50 list by The NonProfit Times.

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