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Donna Cooper named to lead PCCY

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Donna Cooper, who was Gov. Rendell’s policy chief for eight years and who has experience in both city government and the advocacy world, has been named the new executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

Cooper will succeed Shelly Yanoff, who is stepping down after leading the group for 26 years.

"We’re delighted to welcome a successor to Shelly who possesses such passion for improving children’s lives, such deep knowledge of the Philadelphia region, and years of experience working effectively on behalf of children’s policies," said PCCY board chair Carolyn Adams in a statement.

In an interview, Cooper said she took the job after eight years in Harrisburg and two years in Washington reinforced her view of the need for advocacy groups working on behalf of children.

"A lot has been done in the past 10 years to connect the needs of children and benefits to the economy," she said. "People have come to the realization that unless we improve our investment in kids, our future as a nation is undermined."

Before working for Rendell in Harrisburg, Cooper served three years as deputy mayor for policy and planning under Rendell and designed and led a program called Greater Philadelphia Works that helped single mothers on welfare achieve self-sufficiency.

She also led the advocacy group Good Schools Pennsylvania, which fought for equitable education funding statewide.

Rendell called Cooper the “conscience” and “soul” of his administration when she left two years ago to become a senior fellow at the Center for American Progess, a progressive think tank.

Cooper said she would start her new job in January.