Iris Ann Cooper hails from Evansville, Indiana. She worked in the financial service arena for over twenty-five years, providing funding for housing, commercial real estate and small businesses. Iris is the owner of “JustAskIris!” an entrepreneurial coaching firm. She is also Professor of Business at Columbus State Community College, teaching Entrepreneurship, Creative Problem Solving, and 21st Century Skills. She has developed an expertise in the management of a variety of projects for both non-profit and for profit businesses, including her recent assignment as the Director of the Ohio Division of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, featuring the Small Business Development Centers under Governor Ted Strickland. As director, Iris led the state from 29th worst place for small businesses to the 9th best in the nation and 1st in the Midwest in four years.
Iris believes in social service. For many years, she served as Board President of Community Capital Development Corporation (CCDC) and Strategies against Violence Everywhere (SAVE). In 2011, she received the Alpha Sigma Omega Ivy Leaf Community Service Award for her contribution to economic security, an initiative of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Additionally, she is the representative from Ohio on the SBA Regulatory Review Board, appointed by Director Karen Mills. In 2010, she joined the alumni board of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. She also became the Economic Empowerment Chair on the National Board of the Coalition of 100 Black Women in 2010. Iris was featured in the October 2008 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine and chosen as a 2008 Woman of Economic and Leadership Development. Additionally, she was honored in 2006 as a YWCA Woman of Achievement. Iris was a founding trustee for the Columbus/Franklin County Port Financing Authority in 2006.
She is also an entrepreneur, starting and operating several businesses since she was a child. Iris is one of the founders of Glory Foods, Inc., a national food marketing company. She is a featured keynote speaker and mediator, holding certifications from Les Brown Enterprises and Capital University School of Law.
Iris obtained a BA degree in Journalism and an MBA in Marketing from Indiana University. She is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Business program at Walden University, majoring in Entrepreneurship. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and a steward of St. Paul A.M.E. Church.