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Lisette%20Cooper Lisette%20Cooper

Lisette Cooper

Founder and managing partner, Athena Capital Advisors

Lisette Cooper is not afraid of transitions. She started out as a Harvard University graduate student in earth sciences doing research, math and "boiling things in acid." However, she discovered she didn't enjoy the solitary nature of the work.

So, pursuing a personal interest in investing, Ms. Cooper began taking classes at the business school. While doing a case study on stock options, she recognized an equation heat/flow from her geochemistry work. That was the bridge, she said, inspiring her to enter the financial field that, fortuitously, was looking for individuals with math skills.

Soon after, she was recruited by a wirehouse to be a quantitative expert, working with institutional clients. She started work right after completing her Ph.D. in geological sciences.

Six years later, in 1993, Ms. Cooper founded Athena Capital Advisors in Lincoln, Mass., applying institutional investing methods to high net worth clients' portfolios.

Now she's reinventing herself again. Ms. Cooper gave up her CEO title earlier this year to become a team member. She wishes to share leadership of her firm and build the next generation of leaders.

"This puts us all more on an equal footing," she said. "More people are getting a chance to do things and it creates a more collegial, consensus-based management team."

— Deborah Nason


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