Not a small feat for a woman who oversees 6,300 employees.
So when Cooper, who was a featured speaker at the Cobb Chamber’s monthly breakfast on Monday, was surprised with the 2014 Woman of Distinction Award by the Chamber’s Cobb Executive Women, she quipped she should have known something was up when her husband, Eddie, wanted to accompany her to the early morning event.
“He never wants to come to Chamber breakfasts, but he’s here today,” Cooper said.
The award recognizes a woman who has demonstrated exceptional leadership through her professional endeavors, community involvement, ethical sensitivity and social responsibility, thereby supporting and advancing her community and respective field.
She later spoke about how much she enjoys mentoring, and how she “tries to convince our young girls who think they can’t do science, technology, engineering, ‘Yes, you can. You can do it.’”
Cooper spent most of her time at the breakfast detailing the current projects at Lockheed. Those range from the C-130, which has been built in Cobb for 60 years, to the F-35. The Marietta plant builds 20 F-35 wings per month before shipping them off for completion in Fort Worth. She also talked about the P-3 and C-5, for which Lockheed employees in Marietta do maintenance, modification, repair and overhaul for use in the U.S. and abroad.
Cooper said Marietta is very special.
“You talk about a highly technical workforce, these folks are extremely talented here in our community, so we’re excited” about the work that comes out of the Marietta plant, she said.
Joe Daniell, executive vice president with Vinings Bank — whose father worked for Lockheed and its predecessor, the Bell Bomber Plant — said Cooper is an asset to Cobb County.
“She is a very good leader,” Daniell said. “She is a great communicator between the plant and (the) community … and (is) the right person at the right time.”
Weighing on several people’s minds at the breakfast was the possibility that Dobbins Air Reserve Base may close.
“What most people don’t understand is that Dobbins is my landlord,” Cooper said. “The runway does not belong to us.”
Chamber President David Connell said he invited Cooper to address Monday’s breakfast to discuss that issue.
“What’s going on right now with military cutbacks … we have a threat to our base potentially closing,” Connell said, adding he thought it would be timely for the business community to hear about Lockheed’s past, present and future.
Connell said the Chamber is leading an effort to lobby Washington, D.C., authorities “to make sure Dobbins stays a viable part of our community.”
Efforts are being made by the Dobbins community to show the base’s relevancy.
Lt. Col. James Wilson, public affairs officer with the 94th Airlift Wing, cited Dobbins’ push for efficiency in its day-to-day business practices, as well as its readiness to serve.
“(Dobbins is) stepping up for deployments and contingency operations and responding to the nation’s call when we’re asked,” Wilson said. If you look at our track record, it’s pretty good in that regard.”
Yet when questioned about what Lockheed would do if Dobbins did indeed close, Cooper said Lockheed would have to look into possibly taking over Dobbins’ runway and tower.
Cooper remains optimistic.
“I’m not thinking of contingency plans right now,” she said. “I’m trusting that the right decision will be made in that regard.”