Philip Cooper is a Western North Carolina Native and an accomplished reentry expert, criminal justice reform advocate, and regional change agent. He is the INspire Coordinator at the Land of Sky Regional Council, Practitioner in Residence at NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues, and the Executive Director of Operation Gateway. He is the founder of Voices of Affrilachia, which is a state funded initiative that is addressing the mental health stigma in the Black Communities of Western North Carolina. Philip believes that those closest to the problem are the closest to the solution and this is why he is fully committed to teaching people how to leverage their lived experience to change the world. He is an MLK Service Award Recipient, Appalachian Leadership Fellow, and a Leading with Conviction Fellow with Just Leadership USA. He serves on the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and is the Chair of the Just Economics of WNC Board of Directors.