Board of Directors

Margie Cooper

President and CEO

Cooper has been seeking insight and influencing change in American education since her early years as an elementary school teacher in Ohio. After obtaining an M.Ed. in early childhood education, she served as administrator and lead teacher at Wright State University’s early learning laboratory school. While working there, she earned a second M.Ed. in administration and supervision. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in early childhood education from The Ohio State University while she taught undergraduate courses and carried out academic research.

She has been committed to public service throughout her career, serving on boards including the Dayton Association for the Education of Young Children, The Georgia Association on Young Children, and High Meadows School and Camp. She was appointed by the Governor of Georgia to the Georgia Child Care Council and by the Mayor of Roswell to the Roswell Recreation and Parks Commission, where she served for 15 years.

She presently serves on the Reggio Children–Loris Malaguzzi Foundation in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and is co-representative for the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) in the Reggio Children International Network. Since 2002, she has managed the office of NAREA. Cooper’s most coherent understanding of aspirational early childhood education is borne from the infant-toddler centers and preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, where she has studied and served for more than 30 years.

Linda Grant

Secretary and Founding Board Member

Linda Grant, Ph.D., is a frequent Kennesaw State University lecturer and former instructor at Georgia Piedmont College. During her more than 30 years in education, she has instructed children and adults in various capacities, including as a classroom teacher, parent educator, teacher educator, and consultant. She began her career as an early childhood educator, teaching preschool children on a college campus and an employer-sponsored child care center where she had the pleasure to spend seven years sharing in the lives of infants through age five and their families.

Grant received her Ph.D. in 2009 in early childhood education from the University of Georgia and her M.Ed. in family/child development from Montclair State University in New Jersey. She has also participated in three study tours to Reggio Emilia, Italy in 1999, 2006, and 2018. Grant is a founding board member and secretary of Inspired Practices.

Emily Schmidt

Vice President and Founding Board Member

Schmidt’s career in early childhood education has included roles as a classroom teacher, program director, parent-cooperative preschool founder, and university instructor. Her volunteer work with Inspired Practices has offered her the opportunity to travel to Reggio Emilia four times and to support the professional development of teachers in local preschools.

Now in retirement, Emily enjoys community involvement and playing with the neighborhood children. She and her husband Eric live in Fernandina Beach, Florida, and have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters.

Brian Cooper


Brian Cooper retired as a Cox Media Group Senior Executive in 2018, capping off a career that began with the organization in 1984 as assistant controller of the Dayton Daily News. Throughout the next three decades, Cooper served as manager of financial analysis for Cox Newspapers, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia; controller and vice president of finance; and senior vice president of Cox Newspapers. In 2004, Cooper returned to Cox Ohio Publishing as the chief operating officer and general manager of the Dayton Daily News., then in the next decade was named executive vice president of Cox Newspapers, president of Cox North Carolina Publications, president of Cox Ohio Publishing, senior vice president of operations for Cox Media Group Ohio, and then upon returning to Atlanta in 2014, general manager of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Active in civic organizations, Cooper has served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, the Center for the Visually Impaired Foundation, the Cox Arboretum Foundation, and the Wright State University Foundation.

Anne Hassoun

Anne Hassoun is a consultant for small entrepreneurial businesses in Falls Church, Virginia. Prior to this position, she spent 30 years as a transportation engineer in Washington, DC, and Dayton, Ohio, honing her expertise in creating innovative solutions to all aspects of project management.

As Transportation Director for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, Anne facilitated the development of the 20-year transportation plan for the Miami Valley Region. She is a skilled leader and manager who is passionate about regional cooperation, with the ability to build consensus and effective relationships throughout the region and with state leaders.

John Hassoun

John Hassoun is VT Group’s chief executive officer (CEO) and president and has 30 years of experience in the government services sector with roles in executive leadership, corporate strategy, business development, business operations, and program management.

John currently serves as a board director of GardaWorld Federal Services and GardaWorld Government Services, leading providers of worldwide comprehensive security and risk management services.