Nichole "Koko" Cooper

ELKHORN — The Tree House Child and Family Center Board of Directors has named Nichole “Koko” Cooper as the organization’s new Executive Director.

Cooper’s nonprofit background, combined with a deep passion for the needs of underserved communities and a longstanding family connection to the Tree House, will help to further advance the mission of the 33-year-old organization, according to a news release.

“We are thrilled to welcome Koko as our new Executive Director,” said Heidi Lloyd, Tree House Board of Directors President. “She not only brings experience, enthusiasm, effective communication skills, and a history of strong community partnerships to our organization, but she also brings a sense of legacy to the Tree House.”

Cooper is the daughter Margaret C. Downing, who served as the Tree House Board President for many years and whose tenure included spearheading a building campaign that culminated in 2013 when the Tree House first opened its doors as a stand-alone facility. Following Downing’s passing in 2019, the Tree House named the building in her honor.

“My mom viewed her work with the Tree House as a tribute to what every board member, staff
member, volunteer, and supporter past, present, and future make possible for our community,” said Cooper. “Having grown up in Walworth County, I have wonderful memories that I feel are unique to a childhood here. All children and families in our community deserve to have those same special memories, and I am honored to now lead the Tree House in its mission to provide children with safe, stable, and nurturing environments.”

With 28 years’ experience, Cooper’s expertise spans a wide range of industries, including higher
education, arts, technology, and nonprofit consulting. Cooper most recently served as Artistic Director of the Sharon Lynne Wisconsin Center for the Arts (Wilson Center) in Brookfield, Wisc., having originally joined the organization in 2014 in the role of Marketing & Communications Director.

Prior to the Wilson Center, she was Marketing Manager for JCA, Inc., a national nonprofit technology consulting firm; Marketing and Communications Manager for Northwestern University’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts; and Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Relations for Lake Forest College.

Cooper’s past nonprofit volunteer experience includes not only the Tree House, but also
Chicago and Evanston-based organizations such as Food Taxi, Jobs for Youth, Oakton Elementary School, and Open Books.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Creative Writing from Lake Forest College, and she is a proud alumna of Badger High School in Lake Geneva.

As the Tree House Executive Director, Cooper will direct the administration, programs, and strategic plan of the organization; coordinate community outreach; and oversee fundraising efforts, to include the annual Dinner and Bingo (April 8), Chip In Fore Kids Golf Outing (June 24), and A Night of Intrigue Celebrating the Memory of Margaret Downing (September 20).

“We have every confidence that Koko brings a strong commitment to the children of our community, the hallmark of our organization,” said Lloyd. “The needs for Tree House’s support and services continues to rise, and Koko will play a vital role in helping the Tree House protect the children of our community today and give hope to families for a better tomorrow.”

Cooper succeeds immediate past Executive Director Ismael Chartier who stepped down from his role in October.


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By Staff Report

Walworth County Community News