This Sisters with Superpowers story is sponsored by Chevy.
Nonprofit CEO Clara Cooper has worked in nonprofits for over 33 years. For the last 21 years, she has taken pride in having worked with board of directors to implement strategic goals at the organizational level. Cooper is currently the executive director of L.I.F.E. Houston (Local Infant Formula for Emergencies), the only food bank for babies in the greater Houston area.
Cooper expressed love for what she does and describes her superpower as visionary leadership. She also shared the importance of self-care.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpowers to be?
As a Black woman who works in the public sector, my superpowers are helping others, importantly empowering others. As a mother, wife, doctoral student, community volunteer, and nonprofit CEO, my superpower is my ability to multitask – successfully. As a nonprofit leader, my superpower is being a visionary leader – the ability to transform organizations, identify talents in staff, and implement new ideas to improve and/or expand strategic goals for the organization, resulting in better services for our clients and communities.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Be patient, work hard, and the rewards will come. Focus on yourself and your goals and not those of others. As my mentor once told me, “Not everything that glitters is gold. Don’t take a job or position because of the money or the power that you think it has.”
Why is it important for women of color to work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
For one, women of color bring unique perspectives to the table. Due to our backgrounds, we have often overcome unique challenges and opportunities which often have made us stronger. When we are in leadership roles, we can speak up for others, particularly the underserved, and help to make the decisions that will affect us and our community.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
For me, having a strong relationship with God and my sense of purpose helps. I also have a few hours of “me time” each week. I tell my staff all of the time to take time off or go to the doctor as they cannot be good to others if they did not take care of themselves. It was not until the last few years that I have taken my advice.
Who inspired you?
My mom, Beverly Brown was a stay-at-home mom. I watched her juggle being a wife, present mother of four, caregiver, and somehow, she still managed to go to college. When I was in the 10th grade, she began her professional career. I have always admired her ability to successfully balance work and home life. She has always been my cheerleader who encouraged me to dream big. She selflessly helps others and is very giving.