President & CEO, Diva in Training Public Relations Inc.
Jamaica Estates, N.Y. Age 39
Holly A. Cooper knew it was fate when the head of the prestigious advertising firm where she worked called her into his office one day in 2001. At the time, Cooper had been working for her event planning, marketing and public relations venture as a side business for more than a decade, but the security of a corporate paycheck had been too hard to abandon. When she was summoned to her boss’s office that fateful day, however, she learned how to step out of the boat and walk on water.
“Some business associates threw a reception for me to secure new business in the Los Angeles area,” Cooper says, explaining why she had been summoned. The reception made headlines in several local newspapers and her boss had a copy of one of those newspapers in his hand. “He fired me on the spot because of the conflict of interest. I needed that to happen in order for me to push out on my own. It was the greatest moment in my life!” she says.
Cooper earned a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism and speech from the State University College at Buffalo, New York. She now is president and CEO of Diva in Training Public Relations Inc., in Jamaica Estates, N.Y. She was inspired to incorporate that name after actress-singer Diahann Carroll called her a “diva in training” during a national integrated marketing campaign Cooper spearheaded for Carroll’s Signature Fashion Line in 1997.
A devout Christian, Cooper, the entrepreneur, combines her spiritual commitment and professional expertise. Her clients include boxer Roy Jones Jr., singer Peabo Bryson, gospel artist William “Briss” Brister and minister-author Coylette James. One of her first clients was her church, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Queens, which is led by former U.S. Congressman the Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake. Cooper was Dr. Flake’s publicist in 2002.
This fall, she plans to release her Diva in Training clothing line for girls, first in New York, then nationwide. “I want girls to look like girls again,” she says.