Susan Campbell, PhD
President and Chief Mission Officer
Dr. Campbell began her professional career with the USO as a program director for the military. In the mid-1980s, she transferred her managerial and administrative expertise to the European division of City Colleges of Chicago – Programs for the Military where she served as Director of Field Operations and then Acting Associate Dean of Education.
While in Europe, Dr. Campbell completed a master’s of education degree in counseling with Boston University and fulfilled a clinical internship as a drug and alcohol counselor. During her graduate internship Dr. Campbell designed an innovative program for substance abuse patients with the dual diagnosis of depression. Based on her pioneering clinical work, Dr. Campbell was recruited by Resource Consultants, Inc., as the senior counselor in Europe working with individuals leaving the federal service under stressful conditions.
Dr. Campbell returned to the United States in 1994 as a Public Health Educator for the Department of Navy where she provided leadership and direction for activities and development of the public health education and promotion branch of the Naval Hospital Corpus Christi. During the years that followed, Dr. Campbell was promoted to Deputy Director of the Division of Preventive Medicine and Health Promotion at the Navy Environmental Health Center and served as primary technical advisor in providing guidance, support, coordination, and assistance to personnel concerned with Navy and Marine Corps health promotion and preventive medicine programs in North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Middle East. She provided expertise on health promotion and community health issues with the responsibility for planning, conducting, evaluating, and interpreting complex health projects. Projects encompassed highly technical specifications where expertise in formulating policy, establishing objectives and providing procedural guidance to locally based staff coordinators was necessary. She monitored performance levels and programs for over 40 worldwide field sites.
In the late 1990s, Dr. Campbell’s health and human services expertise attracted The Cooper Institute leadership to offer her a full-time appointment where she has served as behavioral science faculty, Human Resources Director, Vice President of Strategic Resources, Deputy Executive Director, Executive Vice President, and currently President and Chief Mission Officer. Dr. Campbell obtained her PhD from Capella University in the School of Human Services with a specialization in Management of Nonprofit Agencies. She is a alumna of Leadership Dallas and Leadership North Texas and currently serves on the board for The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and Groundwork Dallas.
Laura DeFina, MD
Medical Director of Research
Laura DeFina received her MD from George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. She completed her post-graduate training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. While in the US Army, she practiced medicine at Andrew Radar US Army Health Clinic (Fort Myer, VA) and at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center (Fort Gordon, GA). In Dallas, she practiced Geriatrics with the Health Texas Provider Network/Baylor Senior Health Network for 10 years prior to joining the Cooper Clinic in 2006 given her interest in prevention and research.
In June 2009, she transferred to The Cooper Institute as Medical Director to begin a full-time research career. Her areas of research interest are healthy aging, brain health, and preventive health care. Currently, she supervises our Clinical Investigations division which presently has active trials looking at the benefits of exercise on adolescent depression and on memory in seniors. In addition, she oversees the Cooper Institute/University of Texas Southwestern Research Collaboration with Dr. Scott Grundy from UT Southwestern which develops collaborative research projects with investigators from both institutions. She has authored and co-authored manuscripts related to, among other topics, brain health, cardiorespiratory fitness, injury in physically active women, and healthy aging. Her active grants include a Discovery Foundation Grant looking at cardiovascular issues in women and a Roche Grant looking at the impact of cardiorespiratory fitness on a cardiac biomarker. Dr. DeFina is on the Prevention and Brain Health Group for the Texas State Plan on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Dr. DeFina joined The Cooper Institute as Medical Director of research in June 2009. She previously served as a preventive medicine physician with a special interest in healthy aging and caring for the elderly for the past 2 1/2 years at the Cooper Clinic.
John E Harper, EdD
Chief Financial Officer and Board Advisor
Dr. John Harper has been with The Cooper Institute since 2006. He retired from the Texas A&M University System after 26 years in higher education as a Vice Chancellor/Vice President for Business Affairs and tenured full Professor, teaching MBA candidates and doctoral students.
He is a graduate cum laude from Syracuse University, has a master’s from the University of Alabama, and a doctorate from the University of Houston. He is a retired CPA and also a retired Certified Management Accountant (CMA).
Dr. Harper served as Mayor of the City of Rowlett, Texas for four years, during which the city was recognized by CNN Money Magazine as one of the Top 25 Best Small Cities in the USA. The State of Texas honored the City for its extraordinary efforts to provide transparency and accountability to Rowlett citizens. He continues to serve on TEX-21: Transportation Excellence for the 21st Century.
Dr. Harper served 20 years active duty in the US Air Force as both an enlisted man and as an officer during the Cold War and Vietnam War era. He was a combat crewmember and Russian linguist on an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft. He received many military awards and decorations for valor and achievement. He recently was recognized as a 50-year “Pioneer” in Air Force Intelligence collection.
He is also active in the community as a volunteer, advisor, and supporter. His interests include the Harmony Charter Schools and Men of Honor & Ladies of Honor. He received the “Heroes Award” in 2009 from the Men of Honor for his outstanding character and leadership. The Harmony Schools in Dallas-Fort Worth honored him in 2011 with The Education Support Award for his tireless efforts to promote education in Texas. He also serves on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Board of Directors in Dallas. He is a member of The Tower Club and the Dallas Society.
He and his wife, Debra, have three grown children, nine grand children, and one great-granddaughter. Debra is a GOP Precinct Chair and District Director (SD2) for the Texas Federation of Republican Women. They both enjoy their home and boating on Lake Ray Hubbard, golfing, international travel, and NASCAR races.
Director of Marketing
Andrea Kirsten-Coleman is responsible for The Cooper Institute® marketing and branding strategy including product and program promotions, marketing campaigns, advertising, public relations and social media. Most recently she was with Schneider Electric, a large global energy management company, where she managed their internal communications. Prior to that, she was with Mary Kay for over 10 years as their Brand Communications Manager.
In addition to her marketing career, Andrea has served in voluntary leadership roles with several nonprofits, such as IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) of Dallas, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, and the International Rescue Committee of Dallas. Among her achievements, she was awarded the prestigious IABC Dallas Quill Award of Excellence in 2009. She graduated from SMU with a BBA in Marketing, and has a Certificate in Nonprofit Management.
Melba Morrow, MA
Vice President for Research Administration
Melba Morrow is Vice President for Research Administration at The Cooper Institute. Morrow has an MA from the University of Colorado and a BA from the University of West Florida. She has more than 18 years experience in grants administration, overseeing all aspects from pre- and post-award to compliance. She is a Certified Research Administrator.
Ms. Morrow also served as director of annual scientific conferences for the Institute for 10 years. Prior to coming to the Institute, she was a public school teacher.
Connie Tyne, MS
Vice President of External Affairs
Connie Tyne is passionate about the mission of The Cooper Institute and committed to improving the health of children through programs and assessments that lead to better nutrition and more physical activity. She leads a dynamic team of professionals who are making a difference in the lives and health of men, women, and children around the world.
Connie’s 14 years of experience include 12 years as Director of the Cooper Wellness Program where she managed the lifestyle behavior modification and weight loss programs for Cooper Clinic patients. Moving to The Institute gave her the opportunity to pursue fundraising and business development for the non-profit, research-based programs she believes in.
Connie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Psychology from Southern Methodist University and her Master of Science from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Jane Ann Layton, BS
Human Resources Director
Jane Ann Layton oversees and administers all aspects of human resources. Her responsibilities include benefits administration, recruiting, new employee orientation, policies and procedures, performance management and employee relations. She is a seasoned Human Resources professional having worked in the field for almost 20 years. Jane Ann began her interest in human resources while working at The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business as the Assistant Personnel Manager. From there she advanced her career as the Senior Human Resources Manager for Beckett Publications in Dallas for 16 years. She joined The Cooper Institute as the Human Resources Director in 2008.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University and maintains a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management Association (SHRM), as well as a member of the Dallas Human Resource Management Association (DHRMA) where she participates in the non-profit professional emphasis group.