Making a Difference

Making a Difference

Arnold Cohen’s mother died when he was four and his brother just a year old. That sent the siblings into a 10-year-plus odyssey through foster care in the 1940s. Eventually, his father remarried and took the brothers back in. But that didn’t mean life was much easier.

“My father didn’t earn a living easily,” Cohen said.

Cohen credits that hardscrabble upbringing — combined with creativity, luck and the ability to spot an opportunity — with taking him to heights he never could have imagined as a kid. By his early 30s, he was the chief financial officer of a New York Stock Exchange company. He left that position — some called him nuts for doing so — to launch his own accounting firm with a partner, Tom Mahoney. Mahoney, Cohen & Co., CPA, PC, went on to become one of the nation’s preeminent accounting firms, serving elite entrepreneurs and established brands in the global fashion and lifestyle industries.

Now, he’s giving back. He has served on numerous boards, including the FAU Tech Runway Advisory Board, and he and his wife Barbara recently announced their intention to make a $100,000 donation to FAU Tech Runway.

Cohen became involved with FAU as a judge for the College of Business’ Business Plan Competition. As a founding board member when FAU Tech Runway launched in 2014, he’s seen it blossom from an idea to a 28,000-square-foot facility and program boosting promising ventures and entrepreneurs.

“I love the notion of startups,” Cohen said. While Cohen recently stepped down from the FAU Tech Runway board, he’s still involved.

“The best advice I can give a young entrepreneur is to have the ability to take advice,” he said. “Don’t get stuck on one idea. Be flexible. Be a sponge. Take a mentor’s idea and try to make it better.”

For FAU Tech Runway, he continues to recruit elite board members and mentors. He also has an idea of what will take the program to the next level: a breakout success like South Florida's — which recently sold for more than $3.3 billion — possibly making it the biggest e-commerce acquisition in history.

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