Tai Cooper


Tai Cooper 

Chief Policy Advisor

City of Newark

Newark, NJ

Age: 34



At just 34, Tai Cooper has more than a decade’s experience in senior positions in federal, state and municipal government, from senior aide to a U.S. senator, chief of staff to a mayor, spokesperson and senior policy adviser to then-mayoral candidate Ras J. Baraka, and now chief policy adviser to Baraka, current mayor of Newark, New Jersey’s largest city. 


A Newark native, Cooper has much to feel good about under her watch as the mayor’s chief policy adviser and the city’s liaison to the Project on Municipal Innovation, a Living Cities initiative to improve the economic lot of the urban poor. One event stands above all others to date. “This past year both the president of the United States and the first lady came to the city of Newark to highlight the work that we are doing regarding re-entry into the community for the previously incarcerated and criminal justice reform,” she says with pride. The Mayor’s Office of Reentry assists ex-offenders with vocational, educational and job training to become productive members of the community. Working with the Newark Philanthropic Liaison, Cooper leveraged more than $6 million from public and private sources to support projects central to the mayor’s vision, and she is the “I am driven by purpose. I love the city of Newark,” she proclaims. 


Cooper earned bachelor’s degrees in urban studies and African studies at The Bloustein School at Rutgers University, and a master’s in urban planning at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Hailed a trailblazer, visionary and woman of power, she is a founding steering committee member for the Ready to Run Center for American Women in Politics; a member of the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey, Newark NAACP; the New Leadership Council; and the NYU and Rutgers alumni associations.