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Houston Mayor Pro Tem and City Council Member, District C. Represents portions of the Heights, Montrose, Meyerland & Memorial Park. Ellen is Houston Mayor Pro Tem and a City Councilwoman representing District C, which includes portions of the Heights, Montrose, Meyerland & Memorial Park.
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Ellen Cohen has lived and worked in the city of Houston for almost 40 years. She served as Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee for a decade, then became CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center where, for 18 years, she worked with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. In 2006, she was elected Texas State Representative for District 134. After two terms in the Legislature, Ellen continued her public service career at home, as Houston City Council Member for District C. She is currently Houston’s Mayor Pro-Tem and serves as chair of the Quality of Life Committee.
Mayor Pro Tem Cohen’s time on council has been both eventful and successful. She championed an ordinance to fund testing of the city’s backlogged sexual assault kits. Her advocacy on the issue also led to the creation of the Houston’s first ever dedicated Human Trafficking Unit within the police department. As Chair of the Quality of Life Committee, Cohen has been a champion for the city’s greenspace and has worked to acquire new park land, increase connectivity of hike and bike trails, and revitalize some of the city’s signature parks. She also serves on the Budget and Fiscal Affairs and Public Safety Committees.
Mayor Pro Tem Cohen’s commitment to equality is evidenced by her long history of advocacy for the LGBT community. As Executive Director of AJC and CEO of the HAWC, Cohen took a leadership role in advocating for same sex partner benefits at the city, and encouraged other non-profits to do the same. She continued to advocate for LGBT rights by working on legislation that addressed health care rights of domestic partners, bullying in Texas schools, and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Mayor Pro Tem Cohen was the council whip for Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). The ordinance prohibited discrimination on the basis of characteristics, such as ethnicity, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, and others.
Ellen dedicates her time to serving on various boards with a significant impact on the Houston community. She serves or has served on the boards of: American Cancer Society, American Leadership Forum Executive Committee; City of Houston Housing and Community Development Consolidated Plan Advisory Task Force, Congregation Beth Israel; Faith Trust Institute; Police Advisory Board; American Jewish Committee; Cool Globes Houston Programming Advisory Board; Houston Area Adult Protective Services, and Park Plaza Hospital. She is also a former President of Leadership Houston and the Medical Center Hospital Board.