Unsung Hero: James Cooper, Sequoyah School

Through concerted efforts at the board level, Cooper is helping to significantly advance diversity, equity and inclusion at Sequoyah School.

Jul 23, 2021


The Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award is given to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools and exemplify exceptional integrity, knowledge and motivation. At the end of each school year, new Unsung Heroes receive their award from their head of school, often at a significant school occasion such as a board meeting or an all-school ceremony. What makes these Unsung Heroes so special? The highlights below come straight from their colleagues' nominations. 

See a full list of the 2021 recipients. Stay tuned to NetAssets.org for additional profiles.

Title: Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer
School: Sequoyah School, Pasadena, California
Years in Position: 4
Years in an independent school business office: 15

Superpower: Dedication: Cooper is a passionate advocate of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work at Sequoyah School. “Not only does James bring a tremendous amount and knowledge and experience to what one might more typically associate with business officer responsibilities, he also lends his passion and expertise toward making our school a more equitable and inclusive community,” said Sequoya Head of School Josh Brody. “He dedicates his time to be a present, visible and active participant at as many DEI and other events as he possibly can.” For example, he participates in board-level DEI committees and spearheads the school’s DEI strategic initiatives.

Growth mindset: Cooper is credited with leading the school’s growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, serving on both the finance and HR COVID-19 committees, and helping the school successfully achieve PPP loan forgiveness. Despite pandemic-related challenges, he also revised a conditional use permit from the City of Pasadena, which enabled the school to expand its high school enrollment.

Computer whiz: Coooper has been instrumental in helping grow the school’s IT department by “hiring excellent IT talent to lead us in our technology curriculum and innovation,” said Brody. Cooper is currently leading the school through a comprehensive Blackbaud database integration.

Exemplary Integrity: “He brings a sense of calm and purpose to all of his interactions. He is a wonderful collaborator who is able to bring out the best in others, including myself. James leads in word and deed, and motivates the whole leadership team to perform their duties and responsibilities with a sense of purpose and passion, always holding the school's mission at the center of his and our efforts.”

Other duties as assigned: Cooper is known to interact with students and is a frequent speaker on student body panels and events.

See a full list of the 2021 recipients and read more about the Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award. NetAssets.org will post additional profiles of Unsung Heroes throughout the fall — check in to learn more about other recipients. 




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