Comcast’s David Cohen, Diversity Exec And Adviser To Brian Roberts, Stepping Down

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David Cohen, a key adviser to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and a notable fundraiser for Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, has announced his plan to step down from his operational role at the company.

He will end his operational responsibilities as of January 1, 2020, transitioning from Senior EVP to Senior Counselor to Roberts starting December 31, 2020.

In recent years, Cohen has led Comcast’s diversity efforts and also guided its lobbying troops in Washington. He also has been involved in Byron Allen’s discrimination lawsuit against Comcast, which is now before the Supreme Court. (Allen issued a not-terribly-cordial statement about Cohen’s exit, urging Roberts and the company to alter their stance now that Cohen is “out of the way.”)

Cohen’s purview is broad, spanning corporate functions such as communications, public policy, regulatory and government affairs, lobbying, real estate, security. In a memo to employees announcing the move, Roberts announced the new division of responsibilities across various areas of the company. (Read the memo below.) Karen Buchholz will become Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast, reporting to Roberts in this capacity. Buchholz and Craig Robinson, the Chief Diversity Officer for NBCUniversal, will
become co-chairs of the Comcast NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Advisory Council.

Comcast has employed more lobbyists in Washington that virtually any other company in America. Those forces were put to the test in 2014 when the company made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, a proposed merger that was abandoned when regulators raised monopoly concerns. Time Warner Cable wound up being acquired by Charter Communications, which vaulted to the No. 2 position among cable operators behind Comcast.

Beyond any individual deal, Cohen has been regularly involved at a high level in major industry conversations around net neutrality, broadcast spectrum and other aspects of the media landscape.

In a statement, Roberts said it is “impossible to overstate David’s value to Comcast NBCUniversal,” adding that his “passion for diversity and inclusion has helped transform our company and our industry.”

Cohen joined Comcast in 2002 after a stint as partner and chairman at the Ballard Spahr law firm. He has also been chief of staff to former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell. In political circles, Cohen has been a prominent Biden supporter, throwing the first major fundraiser for the vice president as soon as he announced his 2020 candidacy.

Cohen issued a statement indicating the time had come for a change. (He will turn 65 next year.) “It has been extraordinary to work with Brian and our senior leadership team for the past 18 years to help grow Comcast into one of the largest media and technology companies in the world,” he said. “After a great deal of discussion with Brian and after much thought, I’ve decided to transition my operational roles and make way for the many talented executives who I have had the privilege of working with at Comcast and provide the opportunity to lead and grow their careers.”

Here is the memo from Roberts to employees: (read more)

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