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Michael T. Cohen
Interim CEO
NYC Basketball Hall of Fame

Born in Brooklyn, NY, with roots stretched across Queens (Kew Gardens/Forest Hills/Hillcrest), Washington Heights, the Bronx, the Upper Hudson Valley, Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, Canada, Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania and Israel, Mike is first and foremost an educator and lover of people, baseball (Yankees) and, of course, basketball. 

A military veteran, professional political and security strategist and specialist in quiet international and personal conflict resolution, Mike has served a lifetime of professional & volunteer leadership capacities. 

Among those entities served have been the National Basketball Association (NBA), the American Sportscasters Association (ASA), the National Pro-Am City Leagues, Israel’s National Holocaust Memorial – Yad Vashem and Yeshiva University.

As a student at Yeshiva, Mike reestablished the position of Sports Information Director and helped promote the Maccabees basketball team to their first post-season invitations (ECAC 1986-87, 88-89, 91-92).

Serving as a graduate intern for the late Cecil Watkins at the NBA, and later as Director of Marketing and Communications for the National Pro-Am City Leagues, Mike was instrumental in helping Mr. Watkins create  and promote the short-lived NBA Pro-Am event management college  (1989) which was designed to train inner-city youth in the 36 Pro-Am cities to work professionally on the sidelines of The City Game.

Mike was then asked by the late visionary commissioner David Stern to help draft concepts for the internationalization of the NBA at a time where his friend Dražen Petrović was the only European in sight. During that time Mike had the amazing experience of traveling with the inaugural Dream Team (1992).

As SID at Yeshiva, Mike was active in CoSIDA and ECAC-SIDA and was among the small team from NYC that initiated the inclusion of female athletes in the weekly and annual player of the week and player of the year awards system on the small-college collegiate level (1989) – an inclusion that is now a global standard.

Mike has edited several books on peace and security in both English and Hebrew and is currently working on “Where There Is No Vision, People Die,” (Proverbs 29:18); and a children’s book that tells his mom’s miraculous survival story as a small child in war torn Europe.

He is the Hebrew, Bible and Middle-East history & conflict resolution teacher for a number of global church networks and has translated, reworked and taught local spiritual songs to the children, youth and adult choirs of the same.

A 40+ year veteran reserve officer in an elite special-forces counter-terrorism unit, Mike earned his first basketball coaching certification at the age of 14 from Israel’s Wingate Institute of Physical Education. He is also certified as a personal life & business coach and narrative therapist. He has been active in Israeli & American politics and business in a variety of behind-the-scenes capacities since his teen years and has worked with the entire gamut of news networks, electronic and print.

Called to consult on a range of issues for members of both houses of the United States Congress and the Israeli Knesset, Mike has had the honor of addressing the alphabet soup of Jewish and Christian organizational life while wearing multiple professional hats in sports,  philanthropy, education, business, entrepreneurship, finance and counter-terrorism.

Mike is an expert on Israel-Arab and Israel-USA efforts towards peace and has served as an adviser on U.S., Jewish and Israeli affairs for a wide variety of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations. He was honored with the prestigious “Reserve Shield” award by Israel’s Minister of Defense in 2008, and by the United Chaplains of New York State with a lifetime honorary membership in 2010. He has served as scholar-in-residence, lecturer and strategist on issues regarding Middle East security, the Military Aspects of International Conflict and Peace Making, Israel-Diaspora relations, Israeli Society and Body Politic, Homeland Security, Conflict Resolution, Christian relationships with Israel and the Jewish people, Jews and African-Americans in Sports and the use of technology for community development

A popular teacher and crisis negotiator, Mike was assigned as a veteran in reserve to Israel’s National Emergency Response & Negotiation Team in Bethlehem during Operation Defensive Shield in April/May 2002, and was tasked with handling the multifaceted and potentially explosive crisis surrounding the Church of the Nativity’s hostile takeover by Hamas terrorists.

He has worked with international NGO’s, comprehensively briefing visiting diplomats, politicians, dignitaries, security experts, communal missions and religious leaders in Israel and throughout the world with his first hand experience and perspective.

In 2002 Mike compiled “Ordinary People – Extraordinary Spirit” a 220-page photo essay that illustrated the amazing spirit shown by Israeli, Jewish and Christian Zionist society in the face of the ongoing campaign of global and domestic terror and “The Job of A Jewish Soldier” a children’s book designed to help parents worldwide explain the images their children are seeing on TV in a gentler and empowering context.

In the 1990’s, Mike served as a volunteer director of the Jewish Sports Congress, founded by NBA draftee and Yeshiva University Hall of Famer David J. Kufeld and served as editor and publisher of its magazine, Jewish Sports & Fitness after Dave. The pair later created the Jewish Sports and Entertainment Association and the Munich 11 Memorial Foundation. Both organizations were co-chaired by Mike’s mentor, the late multiple Hall of Famer Marty Glickman of HBO, football, basketball and Olympic fame, and Israel’s first Olympic medalist Ms. Yael Arad, now chair of Israel’s Olympic Committee.

Cohen also joined Kufeld in coaching the Yeshiva University Lady Macs basketball varsity to their first ever winning seasons (1990-91, 91-92) in NCAA DIII. 

Mike is happily married to Elana and is the proud father of Noa (16), Uriel (15) and Natan (9). He enjoys coaching Natan’s little league baseball team – the Beit Shemesh Jackals and leading OTV tours for the Elah Valley Tour Company.

The Cohens regularly welcome dignitaries, friends and groups visiting Israel into their home overlooking the majestic hills of Judea in Israel and look forward to your visit as well.

To book Mike as a guest speaker or Scholar-in-Residence for your community, school, church, synagogue, or Israel tour, or to schedule a visit to the Cohen  home – please do not hesitate to contact us at

More details about Mike on LinkedIn:

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