Moises Cohen: A Passion for Community BUILDing

Moises CohenMoving to a new city during high school is tough on a teen. Imagine the challenges of moving to a new country. When he was 14, Moises Cohen and his mom moved from Venezuela to the U.S. He left behind everything familiar and comfortable: friends, music, soccer, Spanish. “I was petrified,” Moises says. “I had images of older, bigger American kids dumping me into a trash can…and I barely spoke English.”

But Moises was in for a pleasant surprise. The students and teachers at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York City embraced him. He received a lot of support in his eagerness to learn English and otherwise adapt to his new country. He made friends quickly, including a girlfriend, whose parents guided him through the college application process. “Everyone invested in me as if I were a part of their own family,” Moises says. “And I fully embraced my new community.”

This experience may explain why Moises has been so focused on creating communities in both his personal and professional life. In college, he majored in International Relations and launched OneWorld, an organization that planned events that brought together students wanting to address global poverty. After graduating, Moises volunteered for a year with AmeriCorps and then worked as a Development Assistant for Year Up, helping the organization with event planning. In 2013 he joined BUILD Boston as a Development Associate, and has since been promoted to Director of Development. In this role, Moises has helped create a large community of donors and volunteers to support BUILD’s mission of helping at-risk youth start their own businesses and succeed in high school and get accepted to college.

“I have seen BUILD more than double its impact in Boston over the past two and a half years, and it has been so exciting to plan for its future growth,” Moises says. “It’s rewarding to be a part of such a cutting edge nonprofit—one that prepares high school students to be successful in their lives, to be innovators, and to make a difference in their communities.”

As if that were not enough to keep him busy, last year he founded the Tufts Social Impact Network, a social impact community for Tufts Alumni. “There are so many ways to pursue work with purpose – that’s what we do. Our programs and speakers channel the inspiration that our alumni need to continue pursuing careers where they are having a positive social impact on the world,” said Moises, who last year became a United States citizen. He was recently named to the Board of Advisors for the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. “This is the only college of its kind, in that its mission is to prepare students to have an impactful and civic life in their communities and in their democracy,” explains Moises, who is the youngest board member.

This past month, Moises was named a 2015 OneIn3 Impact Award Winner. The award is presented by Mayor Walsh, The City of Boston, and the Mayor’s OneIn3 Council to outstanding civic leaders under 35 who are making strides towards key indicator’s in the Mayor’s Imagine2030 plan. This prestigious award shows that both Moises’ peers and the city of Boston recognize the great work he is doing for the city through his role as BUILD’s Director of Development. “I am really honored and humbled,” Moises says. “Boston is an exceptional city that truly values innovation, intellect, and social impact. I feel lucky to live here and am excited to do whatever I can to help the city grow and prosper.”

When he’s not raising money for BUILD or working on his other community-building projects, Moises can be found hiking in the White Mountains, dancing to funk music, cooking Middle Eastern food, or hosting Shabbat dinners–always with friends.

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