Ben Cohen

Founder and President,
Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities

Ben Cohen is the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s. The business started in 1978 as a homemade ice cream parlor in a former gas station on an investment of $8,000, went public and was sold in 2000. Ben was one of the early pioneers of socially responsible business. Under his leadership the company developed a mission statement consisting of three inter-related parts: product, economic and social. Central to the mission of Ben & Jerry’s is the belief that all three parts must thrive equally in a manner that commands deep respect for individuals in and outside the company and supports the communities of which they are a part. Ben and Jerry have been recognized for fostering their company’s commitment to social responsibility by the Council on Economic Priorities, which awarded them the Corporate Giving award in 1988 for donating 7.5 percent of their pre tax profits to nonprofit organizations through the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, and by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which named them U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year in 1988 in a White House ceremony hosted by President Reagan. They’ve also co-authored several books: Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book (1987, Workman Publishing, New York), and most recently, Double Dip — Lead with Your Values and Make Money, Too (1997, Simon & Schuster, New York). Ben recently co-authored a book with Mal Warwick titled Values-Driven Business. (2006). Today, Ben is founder and president of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities (BLSP). A non-partisan, not-for-profit corporation, BLSP is dedicated to enhancing our nation’s security by educating the press, the public, policy makers and our business peers about the benefits of allocating more Federal budget dollars to education, health care, job training, humanitarian foreign aid – at no additional taxpayer expense – by eliminating Pentagon spending on unneeded Cold War-era weapons systems designed to thwart the former Soviet Union. The organization also focuses on a project called the TrueMajority, which is a free e-service that monitors Congress on issues of justice, compassion, and environmental sustainability. BLSP is a national organization of 650 corporate executives and business owners and leaders, founded in 1998.