This daily #OneGoodThing was dedicated to celebrating extraordinary women I know last December. Many of the 31 bold, beautiful, brave women featured shared stories of perseverance after abuse, addiction, miscarriages, illness, and loss. They represent various fields and backgrounds, and I admire each for their passion and strength. The series was so deeply inspiring that I felt it needed to live on as a weekly feature in 2020. Each Monday, I’ll introduce you to another incredible superhero—including artists, businesswomen, union organizers, nurses, writers, teachers, movie makers, designers, reporters, and all-around badasses. It’s about finding the extraordinary in each of us!
Risa Cohen is the Senior Director of Transmission and Broadcast Services at ViacomCBS. She’s been with this company for 26 years and manages the department that is responsible for the delivery of all live TV shows and recorded program delivery for channels such as MTV, Comedy Central, CMT, BET, and Nickelodeon. Risa graduated NYU in 1983 with a B.A. majoring in Television Production. She has worked in many roles of television production, both broadcast and corporate, as production manager, coordinating producer and broadcast manager. After working in the industry building her career for a number of years while living in Queens, Risa made a radical life change and moved to the mountains of Colorado for almost 10 years, working freelance and starting a family. She moved back to the area she grew up in, northwest of New York City, 22 years ago with her artist husband and son. Two years ago, her mother moved in with her and she is now her primary caregiver. When Risa has free time she likes to hike, visit with friends, and work on self-care.
1. What did you want to be “when you grew up?” For a long time I hated that question and didn’t want to grow up. I always liked TV and my Dad worked in the Cable Television industry (nothing like it is now) and I thought maybe I could work in TV. Then somewhere around 16 I had a great teacher, who said you can be whatever you want to be—reach for the stars. So I thought I could be a writer. When I went to college, I thought I might combine the two and become a screenwriter. I realized I couldn’t handle the competition nor the scrutiny. I feel for all writers. You really have to put yourself out there. I was not willing to do that. I knew no matter what I did, it had to be working in Television. As college continued and I had some experience working in the field, I realized I liked working behind the scenes and that is where I have stayed.
2. What makes you the most proud of yourself? I love the fact that I always wanted to work in Television and here I am 39 years later still doing it. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my career and how I loved what I do. I’m proud of the life I have built for my family. I have always considered myself an incredibly lucky person. Above all else, gratitude comes before the pride of the things just mentioned.
3. What darkness have you overcome? How did you find strength? Interesting question. I was recently in a management training class about resolution, solution, and change. I was asked a very similar question about a dark point in my life and how did I deal with it. I have a very similar answer as then. I have had my share of tragedy in my life. Do I get blue, overwhelmed, devastated, and shut down? Absolutely. There have been times, lately more that I would like to admit, where I crawl into bed and throw the covers over my head. The funny thing is I don’t look at any of those things as darkness. My father ALWAYS said Life is not fair. It’s not and I hate that, but I just seem to keep moving on. Sometimes I can barely take it one minute to the next, but 90% of life is just showing up and if one thing I can say about myself (and I hope all my family and friends would say the same thing) is I just show up. I put one foot in front of the other, stumble and get up and keep going. Somewhere in there is a strength that keeps me moving. If you would ask me where that comes from I would say hands down—my Father.
4. Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.? If it was a perfect world, I would still be in bed or a favorite chair reading with my second cup of coffee and all my animals around me. Nowadays—who knows.
5. What makes you smile the most? Oh, so many things. Nature, my dog, my cats, my husband, my son, my daughter, a good joke, and my friends.
Bonus: What advice would you give your younger self? None of this means shit. Stop worrying about what other people think. Enjoy more. Be in the present. It took me a long time to know who I was. Next time around I won’t wait so long.
Today’s #OneGoodThing is sharing this extraordinary woman, Risa Cohen, with all of you! We are stronger together, so let’s shine a light on our extraordinary sisters! If you’d like to participate or nominate a woman to participate, please send me a note or leave a comment! What was your #OneGoodThing today? Please share in the comments! Kindness is Everything.