Dr. Iris Ann Cooper

“My mother was a Carver program administrator during the 60’s and 70’s. She was one of a group of dedicated women and men who truly cared about the youth in and around “Carver on the Hill.” We respected each adult in the building, including Mrs. Porter, Mrs. Best, Mrs. Vick, Mr. Lander, Mr. Joyner, Mrs. Turner, and my mom Verna Cooper. There were many others, but those are the ones that stand out in my memory. They were the parents that governed the Carver community. Carver parents instilled respect for others, integrity, honesty, and racial pride.

As teenagers we had parties, talent shows, took trips to HBCU’s, and other historical sites. Many students went to college through the Indiana University GROUPS Program or the Vincennes University Upward Bound Program sponsored by Carver Community Organization. When racial turmoil surrounded us, we participated in the youth NAACP chapter and marched for equality on Lincoln Avenue. We learned to navigate life with determination and optimism, reaching for goals that our parents desired but could not achieve. With Carver, we became citizens of the world and proud African-American youth that were determined to make our parents, including our Carver parents, proud of the adults we would become.

Carver Community Organization represents hope, pride, and commitment to success for the community. Dr. Iris Ann Cooper

In Evansville, there was only one choice for ceramics, sports, etiquette, academics, after-school, summer, and holiday happenings. Carver Community Organization represents hope, pride, and commitment to success for the community. “Carver on the Hill” will always be a part of my heart and soul. It must be the positive foundation for future generations, as it was for us.”

Dr. Iris Ann Cooper’s career includes leadership positions in financial services, economic development, community service, communication, government, entrepreneurship, and education. She is the owner of “JustAskIris!” an entrepreneurial coaching firm, specializing in food enterprises and products.  Iris founded Glory Foods, Inc., a multi-million dollar food marketing company and has launched over five enterprises during her career. She is recognized nationally as a business strategy and branding expert, having coached many startups to sustainability. Iris is the former Director of the Ohio Division of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, where Iris led the state from 29th worst place for small businesses in 2007 to the 9th best in the nation and 1st in the Midwest in four years.  She currently works with nonprofits and for- profit organizations desiring market research, strategy development, and workforce development training.  Iris recently received the Amos Lynch Legacy Award from Champions of Diversity and the Sharon Burkes Soar Award from Franklin County Children’s Services for her advocacy work in Central Ohio.

Iris is a published author, featured writer, and keynote speaker on a variety of topics, and an adjunct marketing professor at Franklin University and Columbus State Community College.  Her contributions to entrepreneurship are now included in the national History Makers Collection at the Smithsonian Institute. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Central Ohio Chapter, CDC Headstart Inc., and the Indiana University Alumni Association.  Iris holds a BA in Journalism and an MBA in Marketing from Indiana University. Her DBA is from Walden University, in Entrepreneurship.  Her doctoral study focused on small business mortality entitled “The First Four Years: A Small Business Sustainability Study.”