She and Comcast grew up together, now she’s repping Philly tech

    Danielle Cohn’s connection to Comcast started at age 14. She got a job, bought a TV, put it in her bedroom, and signed up for Comcast. “I charged my parents $1 for every program they watched on my TV. I think I made money on the deal.”

    Danielle Cohn’s connection to Comcast started long before she was named their senior director of entrepreneurial engagement. “I was 14,” said Cohn. “I wanted my MTV.”

    What’s a teenager to do? Cohn got a job pumping gas, bought a TV at Boscov’s, put it in her bedroom, and signed up for Comcast.

    “I charged my parents $1 for every program they watched on my TV. I think I made money on the deal,” said Cohn.

    Sitting on the 43rd floor of the Comcast Center in Center City Philadelphia, Cohn, 42, points to another commonality she shares with her employer. “We both started in Bala Cynwyd,” she said. “When I was growing up, my mom worked in the GSB building. Comcast’s offices were just down the hall.” Hard to believe, but back then, Comcast was just a startup.

    Telling Philadelphia’s story

    Decades passed before Cohn joined Comcast. For 12 years, she headed up marketing at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB). During those years, Cohn participated in the Economy League’s Leadership Exchange Program, visiting cities across the country to learn best practices from peers. “What we noticed was that we had all of these same great assets, but no one was telling Philadelphia’s innovation story loud enough,” said Cohn. “So that’s what we started to do.” That became Cohn’s mission.

    Meanwhile, from her office at PHLCVB on Market Street, she watched the Comcast building rise up, up, up, eventually blocking her view of her alma mater, Temple University. Joining Comcast NBCUniversal was a natural part of Cohn’s development as a techie and Philly booster with an entrepreneurial spirit.

    She wears a gold pendant in the shape of Philly’s skyline. “Most of my jewelry and accessories are made in the city. This is from PHL Independents in Old City,” Cohn said.

    Speaking of the skyline, it’s about to change dramatically with the 2018 completion of the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center. Cohn is part of a team working to design an entire floor for a startup accelerator program.

    Getting grads to stay

    As a member of Comcast’s strategic development team, Cohn works with startups to look for new product innovations and partnerships. She also helps Comcast find ways to keep young talent in Philly.

    “We support Campus Philly and Start Stay Grow, both committed to encouraging graduates of Penn, Temple, Drexel and other local universities to remain here after graduation,” said Cohn.

    Comcast sponsors several programs targeting local talent, including PennApps, the largest student-run hackathon in the country; Home for the Summer, an internship program that posts students from colleges outside of the city at Comcast for half of the summer and at one of 10 startups for the other half; and Philly Tech Week, coming again in March.

    Where to find Cohn when she’s not working? Your best bet is National Mechanics in Old City where Cohn can be found belting out Purple Rain on karaoke night.

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