Shannon Cohen in black dress standing in front of colorful artwork

Commencement speaker is self-described 'hope dealer'

Shannon Cohen, '00 and '11, a self-described "hope dealer," will be the keynote speaker for the Fall Commencement ceremony on December 9 at Van Andel Arena.

Cohen is the founder and CEO of Shannon Cohen Inc., a boutique firm with offshoots in inspirational stationery and products, podcasts, speaking engagements and, soon, a membership platform for coaching and networking.

A first-generation college student, Cohen earned a bachelor's degree in international relations, and in 2011 a master's degree in public administration.

Cohen, a native of Detroit, launched her line of "Tough Skin Soft Heart" stationery in 2016. Five years later, Target began distributing Cohen's greeting cards, following a partnership with American Greetings. Her cards and stationery are also carried by Meijer and many other stores. 

This year she partnered with GVSU's Alumni Supplier Diversity Program to bring her "Hope on the Go" products to the GVSU Laker Store.

Cohen earned Grand Valley's Distinguished Alumni Award in October. In 2023, Cohen received the "Woman of Courage" award from Michigan Women Forward. In 2022, she was named "Brilliant Woman of the Year" by West Michigan Woman Magazine. Cohen serves on the board of directors for the Corewell Health Foundation, Grand Rapids Economic Club, GVSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and GROW.

More than 1,300 students will participate in Saturday's commencement; the ceremony will begin at 3 p.m.


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