Wilkes County native Michael “Mike” Cooper was selected one of this year’s 60 Presidential Leadership Scholars on Monday.
Cooper is the only North Carolinian in the program’s sixth-annual class. He is the son of Mike and Margaret Cooper of North Wilkesboro.
The program is designed to be a catalyst for a diverse network of leaders who collaborate and work to make a difference as they learn about leadership through the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Each class of Presidential Leadership Scholars is selected after an application and review process.
They are selected based on leadership growth potential and personal leadership projects aimed at improving civic engagement or social good by addressing a problem or need in their community
During six weeks, they will travel to each participating presidential center to learn from former presidents, key former administration officials, business and civic leaders and leading academics.
They will study and put into practice varying approaches to leadership and exchange ideas to help strengthen their impact in their communities.
The program kicked off in Washington, D.C.. on Tuesday.
The latest class joins a network of 298 prior scholars known for applying lessons learned through the program to make a difference in difference in diverse situations, stated a press release.
Examples include providing employment and mentoring to veterans, helping adjudicated youth to improve job skills and attain a positive self-image, empowering clinicians to speak with patients about safe storage of firearms and deploying needed resources in the wake of natural disasters.
The press release said that since the program began in 2015, scholars have consistently reported growth in leadership skills, responsibilities and opportunities for impact.
About 90% of the scholars reported that their sense of confidence or purpose as a leader changed and 96% reported exposure to and appreciation of a wider variety of perspectives.
Cooper is a graduate of Wilkes Central High School, Appalachian State University and UNC-Char;otte Law School.
He was an attorney at the McElwee Law Firm in North Wilkesboro before moving to Raleigh to work in state government in 2018. He most recently was a public information officer in the N.C. Department of Environmentlal Quality.