Boasting a 30-year career in the nonprofit sector, Degale Cooper joined YouthCare as its chief program officer in June 2018. The Seattle-based nonprofit works to end youth homelessness. Learn about Degale Cooper…
What was your first job? My first job was a helping job. In high school, we had a health sciences program where I gained experience in the health profession as an intern at the hospital on the military base in Oak Harbor and at Whidbey General in Coupeville. Specifically, I worked in the family medicine unit. Initially, I wanted to be a pediatrician, but what I learned from that experience is that there is a myriad of personal life circumstances that contribute to an individual’s physical well-being. A doctor can treat the symptoms, but no one was paying attention to these life circumstances and people’s mental well-being. This experience was part of what led me to get my BA in psychology and my MSW.
What are your favorite ways to spend your free time in WA? I enjoy camping with family and friends, fishing in the beautiful lakes and rivers around Seattle, and attending all of the different cultural festivals in the area.
What is your biggest accomplishment and why? My biggest accomplishment is introducing and implementing a best practice model for foster care nationally and internationally through my work with Mockingbird Society. My next biggest accomplishment is being the CEO at YouthCare.
What is the biggest obstacle you overcame? My biggest obstacle has been reimagining all of my childhood experiences as opportunities for growth and personal development. That really influenced my desire to always be a compassionate and giving person.
Who is someone who inspires you and why? I am truly inspired by all of the people I have worked with who come together in support of young people in our community; who commit their lives and passion to ensure that young people have an opportunity to succeed in their lives.
What is advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do? My best advice is to know yourself so that you can best focus your energy on others.
What is your favorite quote? “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” –Buddha
What is something someone would be surprised to learn about you? People may be surprised that I was a foster parent.
What makes someone fabulous? Someone is fabulous when they believe, “I am fabulous!” and demonstrate that in their actions and behaviors.