Cooper moving from Sarasota Chamber job to Gulf Coast Foundation

His new role will be director of community investment

Kevin Cooper participates in a Siesta Key Village Association meeting. Photo from the News Leader archive
Kevin Cooper participates in a Siesta Key Village Association meeting. News Leader archive

On Nov. 9, Kevin Cooper, vice president of public policy for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, will join the staff of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation as director of community investment, the Foundation has announced.

“In this role, he will work directly with [former Sarasota County Commissioner] Jon Thaxton, who was named Gulf Coast’s senior vice president for community investment earlier this month,” a foundation news release says.

Cooper, 34, also has been responsible for Sarasota Tomorrow initiatives at the Greater Sarasota Chamber, the news release points out. At Gulf Coast, he will work with nonprofit organizations, donors and other community partners “to invest foundation grants and resources into projects that transform the region and improve public policies,” the release adds.

“Kevin’s expertise will strengthen Gulf Coast’s ability to drive systemic change,” said Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in the release. “With Jon and Kevin working as a team, we can continue to bring the right people together to solve our region’s most pressing issues and leverage Gulf Coast’s community impact.”

In his two years at the Sarasota Chamber, the release continues, Cooper “worked closely with local and state government officials and several of the Chamber’s councils.” It adds that he played a lead role in advancing economic and community development projects through the Sarasota Tomorrow Next initiative. Further, Cooper “elevated the Chamber’s public policy capacity by researching, prioritizing, and communicating about key community issues and Chamber policies to address them,” the release says.

In a telephone interview this week with The Sarasota News Leader, Cooper noted that over the past seven years, he has felt fortunate to have a position “that lets me wake up every day [eager] to make a positive difference for the community.” His focus with the Greater Sarasota Chamber, he continued, has been “What do we do to make [this] a world-class place to live and do business?” When he joins the Foundation staff, he added, he will be taking a very similar approach. “I just feel blessed to do that type of work.”

He met with the Foundation staff members last week, he told the New Leader, in preparation for his job change.

Prior to joining the Sarasota Chamber, Cooper was executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. He joined the Siesta Chamber staff in January 2010, serving first as membership services manager. The Siesta Chamber board promoted him to executive director less than a year later.

On Sept. 9, the Sarasota County Commission unanimously appointed Cooper to the county’s Planning Commission.

An Ohio native, Cooper served in the U.S. Army for six years, including a tour of duty in Iraq. He worked extensively with nonprofit organizations before moving to Sarasota County, he told this reporter in an earlier interview.

Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kent State University and an MBA from Florida State University, the Foundation news release notes.