Secretary Barbara Cooper’s Bio


Barbara J. Cooper, Ph.D.

Secretary of Early Childhood Education

Dr. Barbara J. Cooper was appointed Secretary of Early Childhood Education by Governor Kay Ivey on July 1, 2020. She has served the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education since 2018,  helping to administer the nationally recognized high quality Alabama First Class Pre-K program. She previously served as the department’s Director of the Office of School Readiness and the Birth to Grade 12 Advisor for the Alabama Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation.

Prior to joining the department, she was appointed by the Alabama State Board of Education to serve as the Chief Administrative Officer during the Montgomery Public Schools Intervention where she worked to improve leadership and governance. Dr. Cooper’s administrative career is extensive as she has previously served as Deputy State Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer of the Alabama State Department of Education, Deputy Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, Chief Equity and Engagement Officer of Aurora Public Schools (Colorado) and a Principal with Denver Public Schools. She has teaching experience ranging from elementary to teacher and administrative instruction.

Dr. Cooper is currently in the process of earning a Certificate in Early Education Leadership from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She received a doctorate in Education Leadership and Innovation and a Master of Science in Administration, Supervision & Curriculum Development from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a bachelor of science in Education from Western Illinois University. She and her husband, Walter, reside in Montgomery and have two adult children (Walter, Jr. and Timera).