Dr. Lisa Cooper’s Love of Medicine Started With Counting Pills as a Pharmacy Assistant

Featuring a broad cross-section of women who have distinguished themselves across a rich variety of careers, our Portraits of Power series is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Enterprise, and of Black women. It’s a place for today’s businesswomen to share their own favorite images and their own stories, in their own words. Today’s portrait is the new director of Johns Hopkins’ Urban Health Institute, Dr. Lisa Cooper.

Lisa Cooper, MD, MPH

James F. Fries Professor of Medicine and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Health Equity, Johns Hopkins University

Nicknames: Lis’, LAC

My first job was as an assistant in a pharmacy. I loved counting the pills in different colors and shapes, but quickly realized it was about much more than that.

My big break came when I was named a 2007 MacArthur Fellow for my research on the impact of race and ethnicity on relationships in health care.

I’ve had to work hardest at letting go of perfection.

I never imagined I would speak to large audiences.

I wish I’d learned to trust my instincts and my own passions sooner.

The risk I regret not taking is not saying no more often to things I didn’t really want to do in order to have time and energy to be present for more important things.

If I could design my fantasy self-care day, it would be spent praying at sunrise, going for a long walk on the beach or in the woods along a waterfall, cooling off with a swim, taking a bubble bath, going for a massage, dancing to Afro-Caribbean music, and dinner at sunset on the beach.

The discrimination and injustices that people of color face in America, and around the world, especially when they are sick keep me up at night.

When I’m struggling, I say to myself, You are a precious and beloved child of God with gifts to share with the world. The good deeds you do, even if they seem insignificant, matter, and make a difference. Good always overcomes evil.

I am unapologetically hopeful and optimistic.

Portraits of Power is a yearlong series of candid insights from exceptional women leaders. It is brought to you by ADP.