Long-time CRE exec Leslie Cohen leaves Samuels for Davis Cos.

Long-time CRE exec Leslie Cohen leaves Samuels for Davis Cos.

Leslie Cohen, one of the best-known female executives in Boston’s commercial real estate industry, is moving from one major local development firm to another.

Cohen has joined The Davis Cos. as chief operating officer after spending more than two decades at Samuels & Associates, including the past six years in the COO role. Cohen has served as president of two of the region’s most powerful industry groups, NAIOP Massachusetts and CREW Boston, and still sits on NAIOP’s board management committee.

Boston-based Davis Cos. oversees a portfolio of almost 12 million square feet of commercial real estate across the U.S. Its local projects have included the Omni Boston Hotel in the Seaport as well as a swath of lab buildings in Cambridge and beyond.

The firm’s co-president, Stephen Davis, called Cohen’s hire “a critical step in our ongoing succession planning.” The company was founded by Jonathan Davis, who serves as chief executive but has previously talked about becoming executive chairman of the firm.

“Leslie is a proven leader with relentless tenacity, commitment to excellence, fierce intelligence and sincere empathy,” Stephen Davis said in a statement.

For her part, Cohen is “excited and energized” about working with the leadership at Davis, she said in a statement. In the COO role, she will help to set the firm’s business strategy and to oversee day-to-day operations.

“This team is among the best in the business, with a strong vision behind its investment strategy, a commitment to quality and community, and a focus on fostering an outstanding place to work,” Cohen said.

During Cohen’s time at Samuels, that firm got to work transforming the Fenway neighborhood, including at 401 Park, the one-time Sears warehouse that is now home to Toast Inc.’s headquarters and the Time Out Market, and Parcel 12, a mixed-use development now under construction where Fenway meets Back Bay on Massachusetts Avenue.

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