Cohen to lead LISC Jacksonville as executive director

The former YMCA and New Town Success Zone executive will lead the community development organization.

Irvin "PeDro" Cohen
Irvin "PeDro" Cohen
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The Local Initiatives Support Corporation named Irvin “PeDro” Cohen as executive director of LISC Jacksonville, the local arm of the nationwide community development organization.

He succeeds Janet Owens, who died April 8.

A news release said that since 2000, LISC Jacksonville has invested more than $100 million in affordable housing, economic development, health and jobs throughout the region and leveraged $365 million in additional investments for Jacksonville communities.

Cohen will lead LISC’s local staff and programs. 

He most recently served as vice president of operations for the First Coast YMCA, with 19 facilities around the city. He previously was executive director of New Town Success Zone, a community-based organization providing services focused on lifting up children and families. 

The release said Cohen will be involved in key national LISC initiatives, such as Project 10X, a $1 billion plan to close racial health, wealth and opportunity gaps, as well locally designed efforts to address racial injustice, invest in resilient communities and fuel inclusive economic growth.  

“Jacksonville is a vibrant, creative, hopeful city,” said Cohen, a native of Jacksonville. 

“We have great promise if we work together to invest in a future where all our neighbors can see opportunity – whether that means the chance to earn a good wage, or build a small business, or learn in a quality school, or play in a safe park, or find fresh, affordable food to keep your family healthy.”

Cohen earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of North Florida, an MBA in marketing from Pfeiffer University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a doctorate in organizational leadership and nonprofit management from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.

Owens died after a long battle with cancer. She served as executive director of LISC Jacksonville for 10 years.