FIRST Board of Directors Names Technology Leader Lawrence Cohen as Next President

MANCHESTER, N.H., November 25, 2019FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, has announced the appointment of Lawrence Cohen as President of FIRST. The appointment was announced by Co-Chairs of the FIRST Board of Directors, Kelly Ortberg and Bob Tuttle, and FIRST Founder Dean Kamen. Cohen brings both extensive management and technology leadership experience and a passion for advancing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through the mission of FIRST.

In his role as President, Cohen will work with the FIRST Board of Directors to advance the organization’s strategic objectives, collaborating with the FIRST community and senior management team to continue scaling FIRST programs to make hands-on learning opportunities available to even more students around the world – especially in underserved and underrepresented communities.

FIRST is pleased to welcome Lawrence Cohen as our new President,” the Co-Chairs said. “His long history of leadership experience and commitment to FIRST will help take the organization to new heights as an international movement, building on our strong programmatic and financial position to find new ways to innovate and scale. While Larry is new to FIRST headquarters in this role, he has been a consistent driver of our mission to build science and technology leaders, having served for nearly a decade on the Board of Directors for NYC FIRST and on its Executive Advisory Board.”

Cohen joins FIRST after more than 30 years in various leadership roles, where he drove business transformations primarily in the areas of information technology and operations. He has served in executive management capacities at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and UBS, and was most recently Partner and Global Head of Operations and Technology at AllianceBernstein (AB), an asset management and research firm in New York. During his 13 years at AB, Larry also served as Executive VP, Global Head of Technology and Chief Technology Officer.

“I am honored and thrilled to join this inspiring and game-changing organization, which I’ve seen have an enormous impact in my own community and around the world,” Cohen said. “Now more than ever we must continue advancing the mission of FIRST by helping young people across the globe gain the skills they need to thrive. The world is changing rapidly, and I believe the next generation of innovators and problem-solvers – like the millions of students who have participated in FIRST programs – will be the key to our collective long-term success and prosperity.” 

Along with his passion for FIRST and professional management experience, Cohen brings with him an impressive background in information technology innovation and operational excellence. At AB, he led strategic planning, governance, and management of technology programs, business operations, enterprise infrastructure, application development, information security, data management, client services and business continuity. Previously he served as an information technology executive at several global financial services firms, including assignments in Asia and Europe for Morgan Stanley.

Cohen received a degree in Engineering and Applied Sciences from Harvard University, and serves as a mentor at Columbia University for the Master’s Program in Technology Management and as Past Chair of the Board of Directors for Bridges to Prosperity – an organization dedicated to eradicating poverty caused by rural isolation.

“I’m impressed and enthusiastic about the remarkable wealth of both technical and management experience Larry brings to this organization,” said FIRST Founder Dean Kamen. “He is joining FIRST at a time of growth and success, thanks to the hard work of our community and the outstanding leadership of current President, Donald Bossi, who has been a tireless champion for the past six years.”

The Board of Directors formed a Search Committee for the organization’s new president in July, following Bossi’s announcement of his planned retirement from FIRST. Cohen’s appointment as President is effective December 3, 2019.


About FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $80 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to