Former Texas Representative and
Houston Council Member & Mayor Pro Tem
Ellen Cohen has a lifetime commitment to the Jewish commandment Tikkun Olam, which means “repair the world.” A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she attended The Ohio State University, then relocated to Montreal, her husband's hometown. After contracting breast cancer before age 30, she founded Reach to Recovery, a program allowing women to help other women recovering from breast cancer that is now a fundamental healthcare strategy.
Her family moved to Houston in 1977. She became executive director of the American Jewish Committee, fostering mutual understanding and tolerance in a diverse community for ten years. For 18 years, she was president and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center, fighting domestic and sexual violence.
Cohen was elected to the Texas House as representative of district 134 in 2006. During her two terms, she worked to bring balance and integrity to the legislature and she was widely respected by her colleagues in both parties. She served three terms on the Houston City Council, from 2011 until she was term-limited in 2019, and she was named Mayor Pro Tem in 2015.
Cohen has received many awards for her extraordinary service in various venues, including “Woman of Wisdom” from the Houston Area Women’s Center, “Texas Advocacy Award” from the American Cancer Society and “Best Freshman Performance as a Bill Sponsor” from Capitol Inside, and she was named one of Houston Woman Magazine’s “50 Most Influential Women.” She lives in Houston with her dog, Pinky. She has two children, four grandsons and one great-grandson.