Cohen receives ‘lifetime achievement award’
Written by Bill Schlichting, Pilot staff writer   
July 12, 2013 09:29 pm

Retiring Brookings Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Les Cohen and his wife, Liz, receive a ‘lifetime achievement award’ during a recent chamber mixer. The Pilot/Charles Kocher
Retiring Brookings Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Les Cohen and his wife, Liz, receive a ‘lifetime achievement award’ during a recent chamber mixer. The Pilot/Charles Kocher
Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Les Cohen was recently honored with a “lifetime achievement award” from the America’s Wild Rivers Coast Marketing Consortium.

Cohen retired from the job June 28 after more than 20 years as the chamber’s administrator.

“He has really done a tremendous amount for this community and for this region,” said Peter Spratt, president of the marketing consortium. The award was made, he said, “with tremendous admiration and gratitude for years of service.”

“It has been a wonderful 10 years with America’s Wild Rivers Coast and 20 years with the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce,” Cohen said. 

During his tenure at the community level, Cohen also has been active in state and regional chamber activities, including honor as the state chamber executive of the year in 2008 and serving as president and board member of the state chamber organization.

Under Cohen’s tenure the chamber took over the organization of the Brookings-Harbor Home & Garden Show, initiated the annual Business Outlook Conference, developed the Leadership Brookings-Harbor program through Southwestern Oregon Community College, which prepared community leaders for local leadership roles and, most recently, he co-created and has been an instructor of SWOCC’s “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” course. 

He has also been involved in the Southern Oregon Visitors Association, Southern Oregon Coast Marketing Partnership, Brookings Area Council for the Arts, American Music Festival summer concert series, Good Samaritan Curry Village advisory council, Oregon Community Foundation South Coast Leadership Council, and the Rotary Club of Brookings-Harbor.

“I have been honored to serve with extremely talented board directors, local business people and Visitor Information Center volunteers over the years,” said Cohen, “helping them make the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce a more relevant advocate for all of our businesses, members and citizens.”

The chamber board has appointed Kevin O’Malley as its interim president and chief executive officer, which it continues its search for a permanent replacement, according to board chair Jack Cook. O’Malley is the president of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, a regional trainer for chamber board members, and past director of the Oregon Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.

Cohen’s award was the only presentation made at the annual America’s Wild Rivers Coast Mixer June 27, hosted by the Lucky 7 Casino in Smith River. The consortium is made up of representatives from the five chambers of commerce in Curry and Del Norte counties.

Spratt urged the crowd to support the regional marketing effort by using the Wild Rivers Coast name and icons in their marketing, and also telling visitors to their own communities about other opportunities in the region.