A network of social service agencies and transportation services

2019 Speaker: Stephanie Cooper-Lewter NOT SPEAKING

Closing Luncheon Speaker

Friday, June 14, Noon



Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Leading on Opportunity



Dr. Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter is a long-time leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities, devoted to the cause of equal opportunity for all. She is the Executive Director of Leading on Opportunity, charged with addressing the finding that Charlotte ranks last among the 50 largest U.S. cities in upward mobility.

Stephanie came to Charlotte in 2017 from Columbia, S.C., where she served as vice president of initiatives and public policy for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina. With assets of $110 million, the foundation invested more than $67 million statewide over 20 years to reduce poverty. Joining the foundation staff in 2009, Stephanie managed the foundation’s organizational strategy and mission effectiveness, ensuring community engagement and impact. Her signature portfolios included supporting fatherhood, immigrant families, kinship care and advocating for public policy system changes.

She previously served as president and chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia, the first Indian American CEO within the United Way of the Midlands community partner network.

While living in Minnesota, Stephanie worked as a school and hospital social worker, as well as in child welfare.

In all, she brings nearly 25 years of experience to her nonprofit and philanthropic service.

Stephanie’s inspiring story informs her passion. Difficult beginnings as a little girl and challenging young adult years taught her to see the infinite possibilities in any situation – no matter what statistics predict.

She graduated in 1995 from Bethel College with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Stephanie went on to earn a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota in 1999. In 2012, she received her doctorate from the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work. In 2013, she completed the certified personal and executive coaching program through the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute. In 2015, Stephanie graduated from the Spring Midlands Diversity Leaders Initiative through the Riley Institute at Furman University, and remains a Riley Fellow.

She currently serves on the board for the Southeastern Council of Foundations, and previously served as a board member of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.

Stephanie received the 2017 Alumna of the Year Award from the University of South Carolina College of Social Work. In 2018, she received the International Women’s Day Women’s Rights & Empowerment Network’s SC Trailblazers Award for her work and advocacy in philanthropy to address poverty paving the way and supporting women and girls to achieve their goals. One of 10 selected among more than 70,000 alumni, in 2018, Stephanie also received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development for her leadership in the nonprofit world and promoting equal opportunity for all.