The Cooney-Doran Family

Jeremy A. Cooney '04

One of the largest legacies at HWS

by Andrew Wickenden ’09

From Capitol Hill to the office of the Mayor of Rochester where he serves as chief of staff, Jeremy A. Cooney ’04 cites the “intellectual curiosity” the Colleges fostered as “the most important asset gained from my educational background.” Through his interdisciplinary experiences as a public policy major, balancing economics courses with philosophical studies, he says he “learned how to ask questions and see the whole picture before speaking, coming to judgment or making a decision.”

However, Cooney says the development of his “independent mind” can also be traced to his family which shares a significant attribute— one of the largest legacy families at Hobart and William Smith.

“I am fortunate to be part of three generations of graduates — including my grandparents, mother and uncle,” says Cooney, who followed in the footsteps of 11 HWS alumni and alumnae in his family. “Members of the Cooney-Doran family previously chaired the Board of Trustees, worked in Admissions and Financial Aid, established an endowed scholarship, and were active in alumni and alumnae activities. But while we share a heritage of HWS experiences, we each maintained our independent paths and interests.”

Cooney’s own path has taken him from HWS to Albany Law School, through various roles in government, and back to his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., where he joined a boutique litigation practice and then spent three years as vice president of Development with the YMCA of Greater Rochester.

For his current role as chief of staff to Rochester’s mayor, Lovely A. Warren, Cooney says that “the best training I received was working in all levels of government and seeing how each system worked. As an intern on Capitol Hill, I learned how Congress operates; as a mayoral intern, it was the delicacy of community-relations; as district congressional staffer, it was constituent services; and as an intern for the Governor’s Counsel’s Office, it was legislative legality and political sensitivity. Today, each of these work experiences contributes to my ability to anticipate issues and effectively execute the Mayor’s agenda.”

Looking back at the influence his family had on his outlook, Cooney recalls the particular determination of his mother. “My mother, Anne Cooney ’63, who died the year of her 50th College Reunion, was a single mother, a 35-year college faculty member, world traveler, devout Episcopalian, and voracious reader,” Cooney recalls. “She attended William Smith after she was told by her high school guidance counselor that women could not become professionals. Four years later, she graduated with a double-major in mathematics and English and traveled alone to Turkey to teach at an all-girls boarding school. She forged her own path based upon her interests. And I’d like to think I do the same.”

Ten years out of HWS, what do the next ten years hold in store for Cooney?

“Ten years? I focus on the next ten hours,” Cooney says. “As chief of staff, every day brings the unexpected. The only absolute is that I serve at the pleasure of the Mayor.”


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