Claudia Cooley

A renaissance woman if there ever was one, Claudia Cooley - in her own words - is "at your service." She is a sales, marketing and social media maven, and a very familiar face around town. Her passion and personality are always center stage. When you meet her, see if you catch that twinkle in her eye.

Tell me about your business or specialty.

In broad business terms, I’m a Marketing & Sales specialist, but ultimately I create and cultivate a more satisfying real life user experience for whatever project I’m working on. I am currently a co-owner of CO., in Rhinebeck NY (a professional co-working, event and meeting space) and an independent marketer for Enjoy Rhinebeck (a destination resource for visitors, tourists and the community at large).

How'd you get to where you are now?

I’ve always loved the ‘business of show’ though without the need of being the star, it was the behind scenes that intrigued me. In my hometown of Chicago, Columbia College of Chicago offered a program, the first of its kind: Arts, Entertainment Media Management. It was the yellow brick road filled with classes and instructors that opened my eyes to a whole new world of future possibilities. From working in development at the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago, to moving to Manhattan to work with a Personal Management team focused on comedians & entertainers to ending up being married with kids and living in the suburbs a 100 miles north of NYC, to ending up in Rhinebeck and being involved with a number of its community entities - I have touched so many arts, entertainment and creative projects. I have to laugh because Monday - Friday 9-5 in Rhinebeck village is a bit like a TV show - it’s perfect and picturesque, charming and wholesome, yet with lots of style (think “Bedford Falls”if you get the reference), and fortunately I feel like part of the cast.

How has the Covid crisis affected your work or business? Any new ideas or approaches…or lessons learned so far?

As one of the co-owners of CO., we had to pivot like everyone else. However, our business is based on people in real life coming to use our working and meeting space, and once possible, we provided a haven for folks to get back to some kind of work environment. Being Covid compliant and very clear that everyone who walks into CO adheres to our general house rules and additional new covid guidelines was paramount. We want our members and guests to feel and know CO. is a safe, comfortable space to work and meet. Its roomy space, along with private conference rooms, helped keep everyone feeling comfortable. With my work for Enjoy Rhinebeck, it is much more independent and remote…I was easily able to continuing nurturing the social media and e-news platforms. We kept the presence going, but pared back as needed when lockdowns occurred. Now, we are going strong!

What surprises you in your work, now or in the past?

If you are genuinely excited and honestly passionate about a project, no matter how remote your work life is, people will pick up on your enthusiasm. Passion permeates through everything and is a palpable force you can use to open doors and get people on your party train.

What drives you crazy?

Every other day a new media medium is developed, it’s a bit like the variety act of the plate-spinner. Social media consumes a lot of time and sometimes clients assume you will do it all, Trying to keep all the social media streams spinning in sync in getting your message out there is a full time job, but from the outside it looks effortless.

Who inspires you? (it can be anybody you know, or don't know)

When I see older women in business, above the age of 55 or so, who are totally taking risks, jumping into new jobs or experiences, willing to try something new.

You're a trailblazer - what are some highlights in your career to date?

My screen credit on the 1990’s Nickelodeon animated show “Doug” comes to mind! I get a lot of street cred from millennials for that, it’s awarded me tons of “Wow, your Mom is cool” points from my kids’ friends. During the late 1980s -mid 1990s I was a personal manager in an entertainment company representing comedians and also animation. The company split, half went to Los Angeles to focus on clients including Caroline Rhea, Jeff Garlin and Brett Butler, and the other half stayed in New York City to work on animation at Jumbo Pictures, where “Doug”: was a highly acclaimed animated series. As a player on the team, my name appeared in the credits!

More recently it’s my efforts for Rhinebeck small businesses and the community in general that stand out. Whether in the role of Executive Director of the Rhinebeck Area Chamber (2015-2018) or presently as Marketing Consultant for Enjoy Rhinebeck, both entities work hard promoting Rhinebeck and provide a solid base of encouragement to the small business and non-profit sectors. A few events I’m proud of are still around - such as the Chamber’s popular Bartender Wars (a fundraiser where mixologists compete for the best cocktail prize!), and a little guerrilla marketing campaign from a few years ago where we spray painted “RBK” in select high-traffic sidewalks and streets in the village. That particular one still makes me smile because the spray painted images lasted a lot longer than I thought! A few are still there, really faded but lasting.

Also, being involved with CO. - which I consider a genuine asset to the Hudson Valley. The fact that we can provide a safe, clean, well lit and airy space for women and men to work and meet, open 24/7, is very important to me and something valuable to the surrounding community. Small and independent businesses, consultants, solopreneurs and the like are able to work in a professional, yet comfortable, surrounding and grow their business - which is something we all benefit from.

A fun fact: Zabar’s, the famous Upper West Side gourmet market reposted one of my instagram posts where I’m seen walking out of the store, with a skip in my step and a few very full bags - and it turned out to be one of their most liked posts this year! They sent me a nice thank you note and, I have to tell you, I got such a kick out of it, it’s especially fun when your friends and family can enjoy a bit of silliness with you. Genuine happy smiles are a precious commodity.

Words of wisdom or thoughts?

Don’t take on projects if you can’t ethically support the objective. Life is less stressful when you personally, even privately, can share the goal.


Claudia Cooley, originally from Chicago, began her career in New York City working in the entertainment industry as a personal manager at Campbell Martin Associates, with a clientele of primarily comedians and writers. She also served as a personal assistant to actor Bill Murray in the 1990s. She moved to the Hudson Valley in 1995 after marrying Andrew Cooley, a co-owner of Central Press in Millbrook New York. While raising their two children, she held a variety of part-time marketing positions in the area. Her role as an ad sales manager for local publications led to a post as the Executive Director of the Rhinebeck Chamber for two years. She is currently a co-owner of the co-working space called CO and a marketing consultant with the destination resource, Enjoy Rhinebeck. If you’re in Rhinebeck, there’s a good chance you’ll see her. Chatting with locals, visiting business owners or getting just the right instagram image is quite likely!

(published 2021)