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Shane Cohn, St. Louis Alderman, 25th Ward
May 22, 2009
by Tyler Hill

Click For Full Size The first openly gay person to sit on the Board of Aldermen, Shane Cohn is a proven community organizer and visionary who has worked tirelessly to advance the rights of all people and build stronger communities. He has been an active face in the LGBT community for many years and has served on the Committee for Pride St. Louis.

Since moving to the 25th Ward, Shane has devoted much energy and time to community organizations that support the Dutchtown and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods. He is on the board of both the Dutchtown South Community Corporation (DSCC) and the Downtown Dutchtown Business Association (DT2). Through his involvement in these organizations, he has met and formed relationships with people who serve the 25th Ward on a daily basis and has gained insight and knowledge into the work of city government.

“Just as a human race, we each have our identities. I’m living with my identity just as each of us is,” said Cohn. “It’s a privilege and, at the same time, a great responsibility.”

Shane is very active in the community at large, as well. He worked for Citigroup as a human resources manager and led many of its community, volunteer and diversity initiatives. He has also worked for and served on the board of directors for the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) – one of the region’s oldest and most respected human relations/anti-oppression organizations. Other community organizations that he has been involved in include Forest Park Forever, United Way of Greater St. Louis, DECA (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America), Food Outreach, the Center for Hearing and Speech, the Contemporary Art Museum, FOCUS St. Louis, River City Professionals, and Junior Achievement.

In his recent campaign, Cohn did not hear anything negative about his sexuality directly from his opponents, he said. However, when asked whether his orientation is an issue on the campaign trail, his typical response was: “It’s not an issue for me. Is it an issue for you?”

A lot of work still needs to be done in building bridges for understanding regarding LGBT issues, Cohn said. “Progress is a journey. My election is not the end, nor the beginning, but the continuation of progress to be made in St. Louis,” he said. “We all need to lean into discomfort, and stand up for all those oppressed by society. Only then can we accomplish our goals of equality for everyone.”
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