UW Athletic Director Jennifer Smith Cohen Awarded Prestigious Pi Beta Phi Honor

UW Athletic Director Jennifer Smith Cohen Awarded Prestigious Pi Beta Phi Honor

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University of Washington Athletic Director Jennifer Cohen on May 24, 2016. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures
University of Washington Athletic Director Jennifer Cohen on May 24, 2016. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures

Jennifer Smith Cohen has received Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women’s prestigious Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award in honor of her professional achievements. Jennifer serves as an example to young women and shows them they can achieve their dreams, whatever those dreams may look like.

The Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award is presented annually to distinguished alumnae of Pi Beta Phi who exhibit excellence and outstanding leadership in their career or volunteer service to their communities. The award is named for past Pi Beta Phi President Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg, who was instrumental in forming Pi Beta Phi Foundation during her term from 1985 to 1991. Essential Fraternity initiatives, like leadership development programs and literacy, are supported through the stewardship of the Foundation.
Jennifer grew up in Tacoma, Washington. She was a devoted fan of the University of Washington (UW) Huskies and routinely attended football games with her father. Her personal hero and role model was Don James, legendary Husky football coach. She wrote him a letter when she was in fifth grade expressing her love for all things athletic, and he responded by encouraging her to consider a career in sports administration. Jennifer credits much of her success to Don’s words of encouragement.
Today, Jennifer serves as UW’s Athletic Director. She is the only female Athletic Director in the Pac-12 Conference, and one of only three female Athletic Directors in the Power Five Conferences.
In her almost 20-year tenure at UW, Jennifer has worked in a number of capacities. She held the position of Assistant Director of Development and then moved to UW’s central development office where she focused on fundraising efforts for the office of undergraduate education. After a stint working with UW’s regional gifts program, she returned to the athletic department to oversee the department’s major gifts program.
Jennifer and her team were leaders of the highly successful campaign to renovate Husky Stadium, raising more than $50 million in gifts. The beautifully renovated stadium opened in August 2013. Jennifer also led efforts to renovate the Hec Edmundson Pavilion (for basketball and other indoor sports), the Conibear Shellhouse (for crew teams), the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility, the Husky Legends Center and the Husky Golf Center as well as raising funds for a number of scholarship endowments.
“I have worked with and learned from so many amazing individuals,” Jennifer said. “This award recognizes all the people, including my family, who have invested in my success. I’m passionate about my work, and I’m proud I have the opportunity to serve others by doing something I love.”

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