Simon Cohen's Bio (Global Tolerance, UK)

Simon Cohen is Managing Director of global tolerance, an award winning company in the UK, which works with groups across the world to spread positive social messages through the media.

Born in London in 1979, Cohen has always been fascinated by religion. He excelled in religious studies at City of London School and studied Theology at the University of Nottingham, where he specialised in religious pluralism.

Following his degree, Cohen worked as a planner/buyer at a top London media agency, Brand Connection. He then worked for nearly three years as a Senior Business Development Manager at a leading UK publisher, Northcliffe Newspapers. Here he conceived and set up Community Concern, the country’s first dedicated charity advertising platform in regional press, which continues to run successfully in all 130 Northcliffe titles. He was named as their National Sales Person of the Year, but Cohen felt a calling for something more fulfilling. He imagined a world where the media’s coverage of religion was consistent with the religion he studied at University, a world where religion binds and does not divide.

In 2003, at the age of 24, he set up global tolerance, and set up the first ever National Conference on the Media and a Multi Faith Society. In March 2004, one hundred leading media professionals and religious dignitaries came together to explore the positive role the media could play in improving the awareness and perceptions of the world’s great faiths. Cohen also set up and edits, a religious affairs website for those who are not interested in religion. Asian Voice describes the site as the ‘most popular resource for religious tolerance in the UK’ and it has won several awards. Cohen also set up, which he launched with an interfaith buffet reception in the House of Commons, in order to promote interfaith eating.

Cohen’s knowledge and understanding of the media, combined with his passion for the media to promote tolerance, understanding and respect in society, stood him in good stead as a public relations consultant for faith-related groups. His last three campaigns, for Gandhi’s grandson, Prince Charles and a 22 year old living Buddha, have reached in excess of 400 million people across the world. He has run media training for faith groups at the Parliament of the World Religions in Barcelona (2004), the World Spirit Forum in Arosa (2005) and numerous other places across the world.

Cohen is a freelance writer with the British Association of Journalists and has had several articles published by the national and international media, including the Times and the BBC. He is Media Director of the International Communications Forum, which promotes the ethical role of the media in society, and is media advisor to Religions for Peace (UK Chapter). Cohen sits comfortably on the fence of his own spirituality and in 2006 he felt it appropriate that global tolerance should work not only with faith groups, but with all organisations that have a positive social message to spread through the media.

Cohen has become a renowned international speaker in the fields of ‘Religion and the Media’ and ‘the Media and Ethics’. He is speaking about the responsibility and freedom of journalists at the Economic Forum in Poland (6-9 September), where scores of heads of state will be in attendance. He is also presenting at the global congress ‘World’s Religions After 9/11’ in Montreal on 11 September, where he will speak about the role and responsibility of the media post 9/11. He then has several speaking engagements for groups in Chicago, before presenting the key-note speech at the Gandhi memorial event at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Cohen has been voted by Mediaweek as one of the top young media professionals in Great Britain for two years running, and received awards by the Millennium Awards Trust as a leading social entrepreneur. He has been featured in the local, national and international media for his unique perspective on promoting tolerance and his pioneering work in the media.

Cohen played tennis for Great Britain in 1993 at the Maccabiah Games, and currently plays for a successful Sunday league soccer team. He recently started break-dancing lessons and has a penchant for the dance floor!