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David Cohen formerly served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Penn.

Credit: Katie Zhao

The United States Senate confirmed 1981 Penn Law graduate and former Board of Trustees Chair David Cohen as the next U.S. Ambassador to Canada. 

President Joe Biden nominated Cohen — a former Comcast executive who previously served as chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell — to the position in July. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday evening, signaling bipartisan support for his nomination, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Cohen was the chair of Penn’s Board of Trustees for almost 12 years and served on multiple University of Pennsylvania Health System boards. During his time at the University, he helped establish Penn Medicine as an umbrella organization of the Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine.

“Penn has become my No. 1 philanthropic and civic passion,” Cohen previously told Penn Today

In Philadelphia, Cohen has also been involved in civic work for several decades. In addition to his work with Rendell, Cohen currently serves on both the executive committee and the board of directors of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Chamber’s CEO Council for Growth. 

He has worked at Comcast since 2002, serving in roles including chief diversity officer, senior executive vice president, and at present, senior adviser to the CEO. 

Cohen held Biden’s first formal campaign event at his home in Philadelphia, and was one of the president’s top donors, the Inquirer reported.

Cohen is one of several Biden Administration officials with ties to the University. In February 2017, Biden was appointed to the honorary professor position of Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor and earned more than $900,000 in 2017, 2018, and early 2019 from Penn.

Biden also nominated Penn President Amy Gutmann to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Other Penn-affiliated nominees include director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and small business administrator.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), wrote in a statement that he was "very pleased” with the confirmation.

“Canada is one of our most important allies, and we rely on them as a major trade, energy, and security partner,” Toomey wrote. “David’s strong business background, deep understanding of government at all levels, and passion for service prepare him well for this role.”

Correction: A previous version of the article stated that since 2017, Biden has been an honorary professor when in fact he no longer holds this position. The DP regrets this error.

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