Dr. Iris Ann Cooper

SBA T.H.R.I.V.E Coach


Entrepreneurial Consultant

Cohort Location(s): Dayton, OH

About Dr. Iris Ann Cooper aka “Dr. I

Dr. Iris Ann Cooper’s career includes leadership positions in financial services, economic development, community service, communication, government, entrepreneurship, and education. Her education and experience led to the creation of “JustAskIris”, an entrepreneurial coaching firm with a focus on food products and enterprises. Her consulting firm specializes in food enterprises, but also consults with all types of retail, service, wholesale, and nonprofit organizations. An innovative product available now is a "fill-in-the-blank" business plan template for all kinds of business models.

Dr. "I" is a founder of Glory Foods, Inc., a multi-million-dollar food marketing company which launched in 1991 with her presentation of an idea to Kroger Company. Upon Kroger’s immediate acceptance, Glory management fast-tracked the creation of pre-seasoned canned vegetables with support from the Ohio State University Food Technology Center. These products disrupted the canned vegetable industry with its Southern-style taste and texture. She is recognized nationally as a business strategy and branding expert, having coached many startups to sustainability. Iris is the former Director of the Ohio Division of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, where Iris led the state from 29th worst place for small businesses in 2007 to the ninth best in the nation, and 1st in the Midwest in four years. Iris recently received the Amos Lynch Legacy Award from Champions of Diversity and the Sharon Burkes Soar Award from Franklin County Children’s Services for her advocacy work in Central Ohio. Iris is a published author, featured writer, and keynote speaker on a variety of topics, and an adjunct professor at Franklin University. Her newest communication venture is "The Window" which is a podcast series on current events from a Black woman's view with her colleague Dr. JoAnna Williamson.

Her contributions to entrepreneurship are now included in the History Makers Collection at the Smithsonian Institute. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Central Ohio Chapter, and the Indiana University Alumni Association. Iris holds a BA in Journalism and an MBA in Marketing from Indiana University, and is a proud Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Alumni. She also attended Fisk University for two years. Her DBA is from Walden University in Entrepreneurship and her doctoral study was focused on small business mortality and entitled “The First Four Years: A Small Business Sustainability Study.”

My Top 3 Values as a Business Owner:

1. Integrity - I want my clients to know they can trust me on all matters pertaining to our relationship.

2. Consistency - I want my customers and colleagues to know that I am true to my policies and standards at all times.

3. Excellence - My customers can expect quality in all deliverables pertinent to the business relationship.


How do participants benefit from having you as their SBA T.H.R.I.V.E. Coach?

I have multiple industry experience, have owned and operated several successful businesses, and will apply relevant research to all recommendations. I have many contacts in the business community that can be used as resources.

My Experience in Coaching & Mentoring Entrepreneurs

Student-focused instructor with over 25 years’ experience designing and delivering impactful curriculum across multiple business-related subjects. Entrepreneurial background spanning 35+ years in strategic operations management across financial service firms, small businesses, non-profits, and government agencies. Articulate, collaborative communicator skilled in executing interactive presentations, forging relationships across functions, and fostering positive learning environments for students. Compassionate mentor with penchant for identifying global business challenges and instituting solutions to terminally resolve them.


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