Debby Lee Cohen
Debby Lee Cohen, CafCu Executive Director and Founder, is a multi-disciplinary artist and Zero Waste activist. She is the Director and Producer of Microplastic Madness, Cafeteria Culture's feature documentary, with additional credits as Animation Director of the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) scene and the title animation. She has designed scenery, puppets, and animation for theater, parades, film and television, including design for HBO shows, "Classical Baby" and "Saving My Tomorrow.”
In 2009, she decided to apply her design, production, and collaboration skills to achieve zero waste public school cafeterias and to eliminate the 860,000 toxic and polluting styrene foam lunch trays used per day in NYC schools. In partnership with parents, students and NYC school food directors, she led the Styrofoam Out of Schools campaign, resulting in the elimination of half a billion plastic styrofoam trays per year from landfills, incinerators and students meals in NYC and 9 other cities. Cohen took the lead in frontline grassroots lobbying to win the NY City-wide styrofoam ban, collaborating with 15 other nonprofits and enlisting the support of public school students and giant puppets!
Cohen's HBO credits include Environmental Consultant and Art Direction on the environmental special, Saving My Tomorrow; Set Designer for the Emmy Award special, Classical Baby; Segment Producer on Twas the Night; and Story Advisor for A Family is a Family is a Family. Her animation has been shown on PBS, Showtime/The Movie Channel, and MTV. In Paris, she was commissioned to design a children’s food themed parade with giant puppets in Jardin des Tuileries, collaborating with 500 mostly immigrant children. For 8 eight years, she designed the giant puppets for NY's Halloween Parade, focusing on environmental themes and has designed sculptural costumes for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and packaging for salad dressings and sauces.
Cohen Art Directed Meredith Monk’s, Ascension Variations, a site specific performance for 120 performers at The Guggenheim Museum. She has designed scenery for Monk and other multi-media directors for over 25 years (BAM, Houston Grand Opera). At Lincoln Center, she designed scenery and puppets for Urban Bush Women and The Dance Theater of Mozambique.
She received a Proclamation from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (2018) for her zero waste efforts and the Eco-Hero award from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Green Schools Committee for reducing plastic styrofoam trays in NYC schools. She is a member of the Manhattan Citizen's Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB) and on the Steering Group of the Plastic Free Waters Partnership NY/NJ.
Personal Grant Awards include: The New York Foundation for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The Jim Henson Foundation. She has taught 3D Design and LAB at Parsons; visual art to teens at risk, inmates, seniors, and in NYC school residencies; and the ARTS+ACTION curriculum to thousands of K- 8 NYC public school students.
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org