Meet Dr. I

Dr. Iris Ann Cooper’s (Dr. I) career includes leadership positions in banking, economic development, retail, community service, communication, government, entrepreneurship, and education.  Her experience in multiple industries, including 27 years in financial services, provides a unique, wholistic ability to “connect the dots” for business success. She earned a BA in Journalism and an MBA in Marketing from Indiana University, and a DBA from Walden University, specializing in Entrepreneurship.  Her first two years of college were spent at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee on a full academic scholarship.  She is a native of Evansville, Indiana.

Charles Lazarus, the late monarch of the Lazarus Department Store empire, recruited Dr. I to come to Columbus, Ohio when she was finishing the MBA program at Indiana University, where he was an adjunct professor. She was promoted to the Lazarus Food Marketing Division Marketing Manager, which contained 13 facilities, within one year. First year sales increased by 10%, due in part to her strategies and programs. After Federated purchased the Lazarus chain, Dr. I relocated to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in banking with Security Pacific Bank/Bank America. Within three years, Dr. I became Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer of the Culver City Office with lending authority of $350,000.

Dr. I returned to Columbus in 1984 to spend 27 years with three banks, including 20 years with Society/KeyBank, with increasing levels of responsibility and a lending authority of $500,000. Glory Foods, Inc. is another one of Dr. I’s concepts, launched in 1991. As one of the founders of this firm, and in her role as Vice President of Marketing, she created the name, brand, value proposition, and led the national expansion from its Columbus base. Glory is now an 80-Million-dollar company as a private firm. As CEO and founder, Dr. I operated Pyramid Mortgage Solutions, a brokerage firm for self-employed people, from 2001-2006. In 2007, she joined the State of Ohio Office of Small Business and was quickly promoted to Director of the Division of Entrepreneurship and Small Business in 2008. Dr. I led the state from 29th worst place for small businesses to the ninth best in the nation, and first in the Midwest in four years during the recession. While director, she managed 33 individuals and a 10-million-dollar budget. Her leadership was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine in a story on motivating staff to reach excellence during a recessionary economy.  Within JUSTASKDR.I, she works with small businesses on marketing and feasibility projects.

Her board experience has been strategically pursued to enhance her knowledge of both local and national board responsibilities and governance.  Dr. I has served on the following boards: President- Child Development Council of Franklin County, PresidentCommunity Capital Development Board, President- Strategies Against Violence Everywhere, Economic Empowerment Chair- National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Trustee-Indiana University Kelly Business School, Chair- I670 Corridor Board, Multi-Family Chair-Ohio Housing Finance Agency, and  Member-Women for Economic Leadership Development, Member-National Small Business Regulatory Board of the Small Business Administration. Community awards include the <strong”>YWCA Woman of Achievement, WELD Women You Should Know, and the Sharon Burkes Soar Award from Children’s Services. She is currently a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Faith Ministries Church, Black Speakers Network, and the Indiana University Alumni Organization. Her career is featured in the History Makers Collection at the Smithsonian Institute.

Dr. Iris Cooper


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