MacDella Mackie Cooper
Lao Tzu said that “great acts are made up of small deeds”. MacDella Cooper has achieved greatness through the many works and deeds, large and small, that she has done and continues to be engaged in.
MacDella Mackie Cooper – also known to many as “Liberia’s Angel” – was born in Monrovia, Liberia, in the mid-1970s. She had a happy childhood until her life was deeply affected by the Liberian Civil War in the 1990s. After enduring, first-hand, some unthinkable and unspeakable atrocities during the war, she sought refuge in Côte d’Ivoire as one of thousands who fled the conflict that killed more than 200,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
In 1993, MacDella migrated to the United States and was reunited with her family in Newark, New Jersey. She attended Barringer High School in Newark, New Jersey, where she ranked third in her class of 1,200 students and was awarded a full academic scholarship to the College of New Jersey in Ewing, New Jersey, where she subsequently earned a degree in Electronic Communications.
Following her graduation from college, Cooper moved to New York City to pursue a career in fashion marketing and public relations. She later branched out into corporate planning, consulting for organizations like Citi Group, Eredi Pesano, Duca Sartoria and Starwood amongst others. In the midst of this successful career in fashion and corporate planning, MacDella began the admirable work of donating funds and resources to women’s and children’s causes in Liberia and internationally. That small act of charity, supporting worthy causes, was the cornerstone of the founding of the MacDella Cooper Foundation (MCF), whose mission is to EDUCATE, TRAIN and MOTIVATE Africa’s most vulnerable children, disadvantaged youth and marginalized women to become productive contributors to their nations’ economic, social and political development.
Establishing MCF in 2003 , provided the fundamental building block for raising millions of dollars to support national development projects in Liberia. Cooper used her philanthropic platform to advocate for and fund promotion of human rights and women and child protection, as well as access to education, healthcare affordable housing and employment..
In 2010, Cooper launched the MCF Academy, a tuition-free boarding school for vulnerable and “at risk” children, and was the first of its kind in Liberia. The Academy’s mission is to provide quality education and life skills for disadvantaged children in an environment that is conducive to learning. At the MCF School, students get three meals a day consisting of healthy, locally-grown ingredients.
Cooper hopes the Academy will foster future leaders who take pride in themselves and their country.
EMPOWERMENT with IMPACT
MacDella Cooper’s dedication to social welfare has transformed the lives of hundreds of vulnerable women, children and youth, especially the girl-child.
“I’m driven by passion, but I’m also a realistic person. I can’t change the whole world, but I can start the process by investing in sectors that will grant the vulnerable demographic of our society access to basic human rights, to education, healthcare, affordable housing, security and jobs. By doing so, they will become productive citizens and contribute to the economic development of our country and the world at large, and also play their role in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Over the past 15 years, Ms. Cooper has worked to promote effective leadership and good and inclusive governance in Liberia. In as much as her efforts have primarily been through philanthropy and peace building missions, these commitments are founded on the moral imperative to substantially improve Liberia’s social services which are currently in an appalling state. Access to basic services remains well below pre-civil war levels for slightly more than a third of the population. And, remarkably, an even higher proportion of the country’s citizens survive on less than US $1 a day.
On October 17th, 2016, Madam MacDella Cooper publicly announced her candidacy for President of Liberia in the 2017 elections. Cooper became the only FEMALE candidate running for the nation’s highest office. She emerged 9th, amongst a field that included 19 male candidates, following a brutal, hard-fought and often divisive contest, further promoting the cause and prospects for women and their empowerment in a paternalistic society.
Today, Cooper is helping to bring investors to the Liberian economy in the areas of affordable housing, energy and technology. She has also created job opportunities for Liberians in and out of the country. Cooper has taken a broad look at the socio-economic problems in her country, realizing that empowering women economically is still a major challenge and of paramount concern. She, therefore, works to empower women and girls from diverse backgrounds, creating opportunities for them to equip themselves with the necessary tools to become equal participants and leaders – as opposed to followers or helpless bystanders. She is empowering women and adolescent girls to aspire academically and engage politically in their communities, more positively, and more powerfully.
Ms. Cooper holds several leadership, advisory and board positions in the United States, Liberia, and other countries including representation with humanitarian organizations. She has also received a number of awards globally.