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Donna Cooper

Senior Fellow

Expertise: Infrastructure, state policy, performance management, procurement reform, poverty, education, workforce/labor force development

Donna Cooper is a Senior Fellow with the Economic Policy team at American Progress.

Formerly the deputy mayor for policy for Philadelphia and secretary of policy and planning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Cooper brings 20 years managing large-scale programs to assist struggling families to exit poverty. Her experience ranges from homeless jobs programs to holistic training and support programs aimed at single mothers. She designed the Greater Philadelphia Works program, one of the nation’s largest and most successful efforts to help women on welfare achieve self-sufficiency. In founding Good Schools Pennsylvania she cemented equitable funding for public education as the number one issue in Pennsylvania’s 2002 gubernatorial race. The victor in that race, Ed Rendell, hired Cooper as his secretary of policy leading his education improvement strategy.

In her eight years as secretary, the Pennsylvania education strategy boosted student achievement more than any other state in the nation while also making record progress for closing the school funding gap. Cooper also led Rendell’s energy, infrastructure, and health care teams, which crafted innovative strategies that led Pennsylvania to the front of the pack in achieving reduction in greenhouse gases, expanded renewable energy production, jobs created from infrastructure investment, and the most effective chronic care reduction system in the nation. She is a native Philadelphian.