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Shannon Cohen lifts individuals and entire companies toward forward, positive momentum in their personal and work lives.

The knowledge Shannon Cohen speaks and writes from stems from a background in emotional intelligence research with decades of lived experience as a decorated leader, entrepreneur, and consultant. She has combined both acumen and wisdom gleaned from her own leadership journey to cultivate an authentic empathy towards fellow difference makers. Each speaking engagement, blog post, or inspirational piece unites the idea that to be better leaders, we need to balance being logically honest and healthfully kind towards ourselves.

Shannon helps leaders openly unpack and address the tough challenges they face behind their smiles, titles and roles and helps organizations tackle the issues they wrestle with behind closed doors. Shannon creates safe spaces for leaders and organizations to unveil their truth and walks alongside leaders to strategize and pace solutions that yield results.

Technical competence and acumen are not enough. The most effective visionaries, difference makers, and managers are adept in the art of people care and people management.  That adeptness stems from an awareness and connection to one’s self as a leader. Shannon has taken curriculum she designed and taught as an adjunct professor for undergraduate and graduate courses into boardrooms and organizations nationwide.

There is a business case for addressing burnout. Tough Skin, Soft Heart is a movement specializing in empowering today’s overextended leader to navigate the emotional, mental, and, physical strain that often accompanies a life committed to being a difference-maker. Shannon is an expert in the connection between emotional intelligence and leadership.

Rockstar women—Shannon loves what she calls ‘rockstar’ women. A rockstar leader is a female difference maker who is the rock in her home, marketplace, and community. She gives relentlessly of herself to the causes she believes in, the people she loves, and the work she has committed herself too. 

Shannon is the co-founder of Sisters Who Lead, a movement birthed out a research study Shannon facilitated with Patricia Sosa VerDuin entitled, ‘Invisible Walls, Ceilings, and Floors: Championing the Voices and Inclusion of Female Leaders of Color in West Michigan.’



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Women’s Empowerment Conference | Gordon Food Service

Keynote and Workshop Presenter | University of Michigan CEW+ Advocacy Symposium

Small Business Series, The Power of Storytelling | Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce

Sister Circle for Refugee Women | Treetops Collective


Brown Bag Series | Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy

Author Showcase | Grand Valley State University


Michigan Women Forward STEM Camp for Girls


Happy Hour Hustle Podcast | 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications

County of Kent, Michigan | Emotional Intelligence Training for County Administrators and Staff

Keynote | Kent Intermediate School District | School Mental Health Conference

Keynote | Leadership Barry County Event


Panelist | 3rd Annual Michigan Athena Conference


Keynote | Steelcase, Inc. Curious Minds Series

Keynote | Gordon Food Service | Global Team Lunch and Learn Series

Keynote | Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative Professional Development

Keynote | Inforum Affinity Group | Women in Leadership


Keynote | Grand Rapids Community College | NIA: Women with Purpose

Keynote | Kent Intermediate School District | School Mental Health Conference

Keynote | Pediatric Care Symposium | Helen C. Devos Children’s Hospital

Keynote | Steelcase, Inc. Curious Minds Presentation

Keynote | Arbor Circle Spring Banquet

Keynote | Breastfeeding and Feminism International Conference | The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Featured Speaker | International Women’s Day

Leadership Inservice | Zeta Phi Beta Sorority

MLK Celebration Keynote | Montcalm Community College

Grand Valley State University | MLK Celebration Keynote

National Stationery Show | Javits Center

American Heart Association | Go Red for Women Keynote


Michigan Women Forward Dolphin Tank

City of Grand Rapids Neighborhood Leadership Academy

Dominican Center @ Marywood “Restore Your Soul” Respite

Amway Professionals of Color Conference

Safe Haven Ministries

New City Neighbors

Girls on the Run Remarkable! Luncheon

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, Sparkle Event

City of Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit

Sisters Who Lead Inaugural Conference

MI Women’s Foundation, EntrepreneurHer Conference

Athena Leadership Forum, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

INFORUM Inner Circle

Relevant Women’s Conference

Rockford Public Schools, Community Education and Prevention Series

The West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Health Series-Grand Rapids Chapter

Grand Valley State University Homecoming Brunch — Entrepreneurial Alumni Panel

#ToughSkinSoftHeart truths for #Rockstar Women event with City of Grand Rapids Mayor, Rosalynn Bliss and the Grand Rapids Public Library

West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology Commencement Speaker

Grand Valley State University — Division of Inclusion and Equity Staff Retreat Plenary Speaker

Women’s Resource Center Staff Retreat — Plenary Speaker

Grand Rapids Public Schools G-Cubed Conference

TRIO Teacher Preparation Student Support Services Student Leadership Conference

Rapid Growth Media High Growth Happy Hour

City of Grand Rapids, Neighborhood Leadership Academy

Michigan Women’s Foundation, Dolphin Tank Finalist


Mercantile Bank — Corporate Day of Training — Train the Trainers for Executive Staff

Henry Ford Health System, Staff Inservice

United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region

Ferris State University Promesa Scholars

Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Staff Inservice

Great Lakes Society of Public Health Educators

Adjunct Professor, Grand Valley State University

Girls of Color Summit

Professional Lakeshore Latinas, Keynote

Audacious Leadership, TRIO Upward Bound

Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association Regional Conference Keynote

Family Leadership Institute

Dwelling Place

Grace for the Nations

Latina Network of West MI, Keynote

Habitat for Humanity, Staff Inservice

Michigan Public Health Institute

Urban Core Collective – Transformational Leadership Program

Network180 Leadership Lunch and Learn Series Keynote

Community Family Partnership, Staff Inservice

City of Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit

Aurrikk Branding Group



Young Nonprofit Professionals Network-GR Annual Conference

Interfaith Table Talk Facilitator – Dominican Center at Marywood

Mercantile Bank — Corporate Day of Training

Spectrum Health Ninth Annual Community Health Worker Conference

BL²END Power of Ten Professional Development Event

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce — Black Women Connect

One Year Anniversary Gala  

Jack and Jill of America — MI Conference

Allegan-Barry County Youth Summit

Above the Influence-Kent County Youth Summit

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — National Management Association

MI-ACE Women’s Network — Women in Higher Education

GVSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation — Teen Entrepreneurship

MI College Access Network Conference — Equity Within the Classroom