Earl “Skip” Cooper II retired from the Black Business Association (BBA) on Dec. 31 after playing a vital role in the growth of California’s Black business community for nearly a half century.
As a young man, Cooper had resolved to be a difference maker in the business arena. Moving from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1972 and earning a master’s degree in Business Administration from USC with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship that set the wheels in motion.
“After over 46 years in leadership with the BBA, I feel now is the time for new leadership to oversee the organization’s day-to-day operations,” Cooper said. “It is and always will be a true commitment and my special purpose in life to serve African-Americans and business owners, in addition to others.”
“In addition, it is my intention to offer all support to the incoming Interim President, Sarah R. Harris, in a way that affords her the opportunity to lead without encumbrances,” Cooper added.
Founded in 1970, the BBA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is headquartered in Los Angeles and is the oldest active ethnic business organization in California. It is committed to advocacy efforts to impact and implement policy that improves Black business access to financial resources and working with the public and private sectors.
In addition, members have opportunities to network with other, local businesses at BBA mixers, training classes and programs.
Cooper met Harris, founder and publisher-in-chief of Suite Life SoCal magazine, through the organization and utilized her graphic design talents. As the president of SuiteEvents, a creative services and marketing company, Harris has had the privilege of working with hundreds of organizations, elected officials, government agencies and small businesses.
“I appreciate the peer connections and relationships I’ve been able to build by working with the BBA,” Harris said, noting she is fleshing out future plans for the organization, with Cooper’s help. “It’s just a bright future for the BBA. We’re going to a new era, a different kind of path in terms of the programs we’re going to be implementing. A different level of engagement.”
Rosalind Pennington, owner of the New TownHouse, is another member who became engaged in BBA programs more than 20 years ago
“It’s been a total influence,” she said, noting that she launched her business after taking advantage of BBA’s programs and workshops to develop and build her restaurant. “Skip taught how to take care of the business of your business. As African- Americans, we have the products and services, but we don’t tend to take care of our business.”
OurWeekly joined the BBA in 2004 and the membership was instrumental in connecting the publication to key corporate executives whose companies became key advertising partners.
BBA recommended OW Publisher Natalie Cole to a UCLA business seminar which ultimately helped her develop a strategy which allowed the company to continue to flourish during the 2009 financial crisis.
“Skip Cooper introduced one of the BBA’s annual signature events ‘Salute to Black Women,’” said Cole. “It is held to recognize National Women’s History Month and last year they honored the Honorable Gwen A. Moore, in memoriam. Besides being a dedicated BBA chairperson, Moore had a lifetime commitment to the Black women’s right to vote and hold public office.”
Other past honorees of the BBA event have included Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), the Hon. Diane Watson, the late actress Ja’net DuBois, and artist Synthia St. James.
“Skip is a visionary and we appreciate his years of service to the Black business community,” Cole said.
For additional information about the BBA, a nonprofit membership organization, visit BBA.org.