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Former Sarasota chamber CEO to run for hospital board seat

Kevin Cooper has been active in the business and nonprofit community for 15 years.

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 8:30 a.m. January 15, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Kevin Cooper, a well-known advocate for businesses and nonprofits in Sarasota and former U.S. Army sergeant, has filed to run for the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Board.

The nine-member board has financial, quality and management oversight of the Sarasota Memorial Hospital community health care system, which treats some 1.5 million people per year and has more than 9,000 employees. SMH has operating revenue of $1.83 billion in fiscal 2024, according to public filings.  

Cooper, according to a statement, is running for Seat 2. That seat is currently held by Tramm Hudson, a retired Sarasota-area banker and past chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota County. Hudson’s term expires in 2024, and the seat is one of at least four that are up in this election.

Kevin Cooper
Courtesy image

A Republican, Cooper is currently a vice president at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota. Prior to Mote, Cooper was president and CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce from October 2016 to January 2019. Cooper moved to Sarasota in 2008.  

“It’s about ensuring the highest quality care for Sarasota County residents,” says Cooper, whose two children were born at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, in a statement. “Health care is extremely personal and we simply cannot do enough to recruit the best and brightest medical professionals in the country to help those in our community who find themselves in need of our services.”

Cooper’s other career highlights include: 

  • Specialist in the Ohio Army National Guard when he was deployed to Al-Taqaddum Air Base in Iraq’s Al Anbar province. Cooper was a convoy security operator during Operation Iraqi Freedom, supporting U.S. Marines and other forces during conflicts in Fallujah.
  • With the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce for four years, three as executive director.
  • Board member and part of the executive committee of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.
  • Other positions include head of public policy at the Sarasota chamber for two years and a director of community involvement at the Gulf Coast Foundation. 
  • Former chairman of the Sarasota County Planning Commission.

No one else has filed for Seat 2 on the hospital board, according to a Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections database. Sharon DePeters, a Republican, has filed for Seat 1. George Davis, a Democrat, has filed for Seat 3.



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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