Shari Cohen Ph.D.

I help organizations stay ‘on mission’ in periods of change and transformation.


My desire to solve society’s most pressing problems got me started in academia.

As an academic political scientist, I studied the conflict between the US and the Soviet Union. I spent much of the 80s and 90s in Russia and Eastern Europe, witnessing firsthand the collapse of communism.

That experience helped me truly ‘get’ how politics and societies work, and what happens when everything changes around you.

But I grew frustrated that the academic approach of theorizing and specializing seemed to stop short of actually solving problems.

The solution

I decided my time would be better spent with organizations actually solving those problems.

As I transitioned into coaching and consulting, I quickly realized how relevant my understanding of political culture and leadership was to the way organizational culture and leadership actually function. I discovered that I had a knack for catalyzing new thinking and helping people challenge their assumptions about themselves and their work.

Since that time I have consulted for organizations in the nonprofit, private, and government sectors – including The United States Climate Alliance, The Roosevelt Institute, The Aspen Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Brookings Institution, World Resources Institute, Doctors without Borders, Population Services International, Rockefeller Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Nielsen, AOL and Telx (now Digital Realty).

I have also served on the leadership teams of a number of mission driven organizations, which has giving me a real life appreciation for the challenges my clients face. Most recently I led a department of the Jewish Federations of North America where I built CEO onboarding, board development, and organizational culture programs serving its 146 local Federations that range in size from 5-400 employees around the US and Canada.

The Approach

I’ve learned that massive impact cannot be sustained without effective, creative, and resilient leadership.

The biggest mistake most social impact organizations make is focusing on tactical behavior adjustments, rather than on the deeper assumptions and mindsets that limit a leader or team’s growth. That’s why I have dedicated most of the past two decades to working directly with leaders to:


Evolve their

As leaders take on bigger roles and challenges that require navigating greater complexity, they often need to shift something fundamental in how they see themselves in relation to others, to stress, to conflict and more. This kind of shift includes unearthing and letting go of often invisible assumptions that can get in the way of the change they are trying to make.


Build their

Leaders are also often missing key skills that will enable them to transition and evolve in the direction they want and need to go. This might be effective feedback, managing difficult conversations, setting boundaries, or taking the time they need to reflect and think at a strategic level. Without the right skills a shift in mindset will not yield the desired change.


Focus their
attention & awareness

Evolving mindset and building skills will not happen without moving out of auto-pilot and stepping out of the fray and putting deliberate attention on how they think, and what they feel and do.
One of the greatest values of coaching is that we carve out time to slow down and put what is often unconscious under the microscope. We build awareness of what might have been unexamined and engage in the experimentation and reflection needed to tackle new challenges.

Each of these ingredients must be present to make sustainable behavioral change. This approach is relevant whether I’m working 1-1 with a CEO or coaching the entire leadership team.




Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.


Certificate in Organizational and Executive Coaching from NYU.


Author of Politics Without a Past, published by Duke University Press.


Immunity to Change Coach.


An authorized partner for Wiley’s Everything DiSC assessment.


Trained in scenario planning by the Global Business Network.


Certified in Hay Group’s ESCI, Organizational Climate and Leadership styles assessments.


What people say.

“Shari brings a unique combination of analytic insight and human compassion to her coaching. She is visionary, seeing what few others can, and has helped me and my team consider options and chart a path forward.”
Felicia Wong, President and CEO,
Roosevelt Institute
“Shari Cohen is one of the most mission-driven and strategic change leaders that I have had the privilege to know and work with in my extensive nonprofit career. She brings tremendous intellectual and creative gifts to her work with leaders and organizations. She knows how to invest in and develop leaders and transform organizational cultures.”
Jessica Balboni, Associate Vice President,
Jewish Federations of North America

Let’s explore the impact that coaching can make
in your organization & the world

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