Chet Cooper is one of the nations leading advocates in equal employment, education and housing issues for people with disabilities. Already a successful entrepreneur in 1991, Cooper sought to alter societys attitudes about people with disabilities and launched ABILITY Magazine. Through ABILITY, Cooper created an unparalleled pulpit dedicated to bringing articles about health, disability, and human potential to the public's attention through interviews with high profile personalities, editorial and resource pages. Cooper has had the opportunity to meet, interview and associate with some of the most remarkable and noteworthy people of our time including screen legends such as Kirk Douglas and Christopher Reeve, civil rights leaders like Justin Dart, Jr. and Harris Wofford, and political figures including Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; many of which have been featured as cover story personalities and have shared their life updates with readers of ABILITY.
In 1995 Cooper's vision for a changing society expanded when he founded ABILITY Awareness, a non-profit foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities through housing, employment, education, media and volunteer opportunities. In response to the growing population of low-income people with disabilities, Cooper created the ABILITY House, a hallmark program of ABILITY Awareness. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, ABILITY House creates accessible homes for low income persons but shifts paradigms through the utilization of volunteers with disabilities in all phases of construction. Modeling the ABILITY House, Lion's Club of America pledged approximately $9,000,000 to Habitat for Humanity towards the construction of similarly accessible homes.
Cooper also developed a creative approach to tackling the issues of discrimination in the workplace and spearheaded the creation of JobAccess.org, an internet employment site for people with disabilities. Having partnered with CareerBuilder.comthe leading employment site on the Web with more than five million visits each monthJobAccess.org is helping those with disabilities find quality jobs within companies, government and non-profit organizations. Through JobAccess.org, Cooper has brought countless job seekers access to outstanding job opportunities and simultaneously educated employers on the rewards of reaching out to the untapped pool of talented, dedicated and hardworking individuals.
Finding new ways of reaching out to the growing population of 56 million Americans with disabilities has been a challenge that Cooper has entertained throughout his career. Grasping the concept that changing the course of America's youth will, in turn, change the course of our future, he sought to facilitate a change in the attitude that many high school students hold towards their peers with disabilities. With this in mind, ABILITY Awareness created the ABILITY Magazine Award (via ThinkQuest Internet Challenge), which provides scholarships to winning teams of students where one or more members have a disability.
The programs Cooper has created through ABILITY Awareness, and as the founder and publisher of ABILITY Magazine have earned him the respect he receives from his peers, top government officials and the community at large. Recently, Cooper was honored by President George W. Bush at a private White House ceremony where he was presented with the President's Community Volunteer Award, the highest national honor bestowed upon a volunteer. Cooper has also been recognized by the California Governor's Committee for exemplary leadership in the community and has received a special Congressional recognition for outstanding community service and the Easter Seals Awareness Award, to name a few. He is a member of the California Governor's Media Access board, Rosalynn Carter's Mental Health Partnership Steering Council and serves on committees for COSD (Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities), Actors with Disabilities Showcase and LAP (Local Access Place). Cooper is a sought after speaker and has addressed audiences on both national and local levels including serving as the keynote speaker at the Presidents Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities national conference and two-time speaker at the National Community Service Conference, which was held in conjunction with the Points of Light Foundation.
Mr. Cooper has a long history of dedication to his community. He has worked with at-risk students to educate and empower them on such issues as substance abuse and self-esteem. Mr. Cooper completed an undergraduate degree in biology at California Poly Tech and attended law school at Western State University. He has explored entrepreneurial opportunities in a variety of different fields, the most unique being his tenure as publisher of National Lampoon. His rich background of experiences has provided the foundation for his ability to think beyond the proverbial box.