Meet Macdella Cooper, Former Refugee & Liberia’s Only Female Presidential Candidate
As the race to succeed the current Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf intensifies, more than 20 presidential candidates have come out to contend for the top office ahead of the October 10th election.
Among these presidential hopefuls — of which the majority are men — is MacDella Cooper, the only female contender in the race.
Cooper’s candidacy has attracted a lot of attention, locally and internationally, since she is taking on big male political heavyweights in spite of her lack of political experience.
The 40-year-old former refugee, fashion model, and renowned philanthropist announced her ambition to become the next president of Liberia in December 2016 to bring free education, universal healthcare, the decentralization of power, electricity, and land reforms to the people.
“My decision to enter the 2017 presidential race today rests on the backbone of hope and reform. As a former refugee girl, I bear testimony to the fact that education remains the greatest equalizer for hope and reform,” Cooper writes on her campaign website.
“When used constructively, education can transform anybody into somebody.”
Cooper is the flag bearer of the Union of Liberian Democrats party.
Not Yet Free
While acknowledging the many achievements that the current government has accomplished, especially in the rebuilding of the country after the deadly Liberian Civil War that ended in 2003, Cooper maintains that the task to improve the lives of Liberians is far from over.
A holistic economic transformation should trickle down to the common people and citizens must be willing to change.
“The sad part is that even today in most areas of our country, particularly in the southeast, our people remain stuck in a weird time warp as if the war has not ended,” Cooper writes.
The Mother of three believes she has what it takes to turn Liberia’s fortunes around by creating jobs for the youth, ensuring food security, and guaranteeing basic human rights for every citizen.
Cooper also plans to revive the country’s economy by slashing high salaries for government officials and redirecting the money to important sectors, such as the ailing health sector.
Who Is Macdella Cooper?
Cooper was born in March 1977 in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, where she grew up until the outbreak of the First Liberian Civil War in 1989. At the time, she was forced in to exile in the neighboring Ivory Coast, where she spent her early teenage years as a refugee.
In 1993, Cooper migrated to the United States to attend Barringer High School in Newark, New Jersey, where she graduated among the top-ranking students in her class.
Subsequently, she earned a full scholarship to the College of New Jersey, where she earned a B.A. degree in Communications. She later pursued a career in fashion modeling, which took her to different parts of the world, including New York, Paris, and Milan.
Cooper has modeled for popular brands, such as Ralph Lauren and Jones Apparel, and has appeared in major publications, including Glamour and Marie Claire.
She is the founder of MacDella Cooper Foundation, a non-profit organization working to uplift the lives of underprivileged children and women in Liberia.
Her husband, Thomas Tafuto, died in 2013 from cancer.