Stephanie Cooper-Lewter, Senior Research Director
P. 803 254 0230 EXT. 24
Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., serves as Senior Research Director for the Foundation. In this position, she is responsible for researching broad issues faced by families experiencing poverty in South Carolina and conducts focused Listening Sessions across the State. She provides oversight to the Foundation Strategic Plan implementation and mission audit processes. She evaluates various Foundation grantmaking categories, along with the leadership programs in the Carolina Academy. She leads the Collaboration for Ministry Initiative which supports women religious across the state. As an outgrowth of extensive strategic research and listening to diverse community needs, in 2014, she was given responsibility for leading concentrated efforts to support immigrant families in South Carolina through continued research, convening, strategic partnerships, grant implementation and oversight.
Dr. Cooper-Lewter is a Licensed Master Social Work professional with nearly twenty years of experience across the nonprofit, social service, health, educational and philanthropic sector. Her direct practice experiences have addressed a range of family and child welfare issues including poverty, child abuse and neglect, foster care, Indian Child Welfare, youth development, mentoring, diversity, immigration and acculturation issues, crisis intervention, as well as school and medical social work. She previously served as President/CEO of the Columbia affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Dr. Cooper-Lewter holds a doctorate in Social Work from the University of South Carolina as a Council on Social Work Minority Clinical Fellow (2012), and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Minnesota as a Child Welfare Scholar (1999). She also completed the Certified Personal and Executive Coaching Program taught by the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute approved by the International Coach Federation (2013).
Prior to joining the Foundation in 2009, Dr. Cooper-Lewter had been a part of the Foundationís extended family in a variety of capacities providing her with a unique perspective of the depth and breadth of the Foundationís work. She was introduced to the Foundation in 2001 as a Research Associate through the University of South Carolina and worked directly with the Foundationís Fatherhood Initiative. Between 2002-2009, her interactions evolved into other roles including serving as a foundation grantee, external grant reviewer, technical assistance consultant, workshop facilitator and faculty member of the Learning Academy (now Carolina Academy).
Dr. Cooper-Lewter is active in a variety of organizations. In a philanthropic capacity, she currently serves on the national Board of Trustees for Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, a membership organization addressing a wide range of issues impacting immigrant and refugee children and families. Dr. Cooper-Lewter is a 2010-2011 Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) Hull Fellow Alumni. She served as part of SECFís Hull Fellowship Leadership Team for the Class of 2012-2013 Hull Fellows, and is currently a member of the SECF 2014 Annual Planning Committee. She also serves as a Steering Committee member of the South Carolina Grantmakers Network.
Internationally adopted as a toddler from the Mother Teresaís Missionaries of Charity orphanage in India to the United States, Dr. Cooper-Lewter is a first-generation immigrant and became a naturalized citizen at age ten. She is married and has two children. A published author, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, along with teaching, speaking, retreat facilitation, private practice, coaching and traveling.