Mark Cohon

Revitalizing a Canadian institution takes dynamism, leadership, and drive.

Former Commissioner of the Canadian Football League

Request Booking Info
Mark Cohon | Former Commissioner of the Canadian Football League
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Mark Cohon is the former commissioner of the Canadian Football League. When he took over in 2007, the CFL was in disarray. But under his leadership, the CFL experienced a stunning turnaround. Best of all: Cohon accomplished exponential business growth under close scrutiny, in a drastically changed media landscape, and with fewer resources than competitors. “The CFL was lucky to have him,” wrote the National Post. “A lot of good happened to the league on Mark Cohon’s watch.”

Riding the momentum of the successful 100th Grey Cup celebrations, Mark Cohon also focused on building the league’s future around a new generation of stars, new stadiums, expansion to the nation’s capital, and continued growth. Cohon’s hard-won success is much admired in the business world, and was the focus of a Financial Post Magazine cover story. CFL Commissioner from 2007-2014, Cohon presided alongside the league’s Board of Governors over an unprecedented period of strong attendance, strengthened corporate partnerships, and high television ratings—the league’s Grey Cup telecast, Cohon points out, is one of the most watched events of any kind in the country.


“Mark Cohon is leaving the league in better shape now than when he took the reins eight years ago.”

The Globe and Mail

Mark Cohon is routinely listed among the most influential people in Canadian sport. Before joining the CFL, he was an executive with Major League Baseball International (where he was Director of Corporate and Game Development) and the National Basketball Association (where he was recruited by Commissioner David Stern to serve as Director and Group Manager of International Marketing, Managing Director of NBA Europe, and Vice-President of Business Development).


Cohon is now Chairman of the Board for The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), Juno Awards and MusiCounts. He is the former Chief Officer for Petopia, a multi-channel retailer in the United States, and also served as President and CEO of AudienceView, an event ticketing firm that grew under his leadership to claim such international clients as the Toronto Blue Jays, the new Wembley Stadium, Churchill Downs, and MGM Inc. He serves on the Board of World Wildlife Fund Canada and is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He is past Chair of the Ontario Science Centre, one of the world’s largest centres devoted to science and its impact on our lives. A member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), he is a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago. In 2013, Cohon was named to the Order of Ontario, the most prestigious official honour in the province. 


“Mark Cohon was an engaging speaker our audience of exporting businesses thoroughly enjoyed. His keynote address was interspersed with his experiences as CFL Commissioner and with his father growing up, and how they shaped him as a leader. I would recommend having Mark as a speaker to other organizations looking for a speaker that can speak to a business audience, and yet be entertaining.”

Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP)

Speech Topics

Innovation & Creativity
The Turnaround League Innovation Lessons from the CFL Commissioner

The CFL is a storied sports league, a cultural institution, and an outstanding national brand. But, like any other business, it faces daunting challenges. How it stays relevant, and how it thrives in the face of many obstacles, makes for a powerful lesson in reinvention and innovation. Today, the CFL is doing better than ever. Why? And what can your company learn from its triumphs? In this talk, the league’s dynamic former commissioner, Mark Cohon, explains how he turned the CFL into a world-class organization, admired by business schools, rival leagues, and leading corporations alike. Any audience—whether sports fans or not—can learn new marketing, leadership, and customer service strategies from the way the CFL continues to do more (and to do better) with less. With magnetic appeal, Cohon talks about how to innovate in any environment, under any circumstances, to tremendous results.

A Career in Leadership From NBA to MLB to CFL

Mark Cohon has won acclaim for his leadership at the CFL, one of the most recognizable brands in Canada. Like the league itself, he fought hard for his victories. In this more personal talk, Cohon draws practical lessons from throughout his career. Though best known for helming the CFL, Cohon reflects on his time in the NBA, in Major League Baseball, and even at more traditional corporations, where he honed his skills, suffered public failures, and forged the business lessons that would culminate in his celebrated run as CFL commissioner. Whether you’re an MBA class or a C-level gathering of executives, any group who wants to hear timeless lessons on leadership will find a new perspective on how to win without compromise.