2016 Catalyst Award Finalist
Lisette Cooper was a guiding force behind the creation of Boston Youth Sanctuary (BYS) in 2011, an innovative therapeutic after-school program that seeks to provide a safe, nurturing environment where at-risk youth are encouraged to express themselves positively and gain sustainable coping skills. Lisette adopted her daughter, Sarah, from foster care when she was 11 years old and understood firsthand how beneficial BYS could be in developing skills for success both at home and school. As founding Board member, Lisette provided encouragement, financial support and strategic leadership to the founding executive director from the conception to actualization of BYS and beyond.
In addition to serving as the organization’s Treasurer and Secretary, Lisette helped the organization build a reputable Board of Directors and personally provided scholarships for staff training in CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education). Over the past five years, BYS has grown into a professional organization with an annual budget of over $1 million and a professional staff of 15. Its 11,000 square foot education facility in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, which serves the communities of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury, is at capacity and BYS is considering opening a second location. Lisette’s vision for the future is that BYS will serve as a replicable prototype for communities across the country searching for creative approaches to the challenge of childhood trauma.