Raleigh, N.C. — Six months after moving into the Executive Mansion with her husband, Gov. Roy Cooper, Kristin Cooper is working hard to make her own mark on North Carolina.
She already has visited about 20 of the state's 100 counties and has a goal of visiting the rest before the governor's term is up in 2020.
"To be out as my own person, it's been very nice. I find that people all over are very happy to see me and very appreciative and want to share things with me," she said.
Getting out of Wake County gives her a different perspective, but she said she finds more similarities than differences in North Carolina residents.
"When you get down to everyday basics, people are very much the same. They care about their families. They care about their elderly parents and their kids and paying for college and their dogs," she said. "I have really learned a lot just going around to talking to people and seeing what concerns them, and then I bring that back (to the governor) or I add it to my little store of knowledge."
Kristin Cooper has served for 14 years as a guardian ad litem, representing children in foster care in the state court system. She said she hopes to use her experience and passion to try to help find solutions to childhood poverty, hunger, literacy and abuse.
"We're sort of trying to connect all these dots that relate to ... alleviating circumstances for children who live in poverty, which affects the whole family and affects the economy of the state," she said. "You start at birth building healthy, functional human beings, and you have healthy, functional citizens and a healthy, functioning state."
The Coopers have been married for 25 years, and their three adult daughters all grew up in politics. So, Roy Cooper's campaign for governor last year after 16 years as attorney general was a family decision.
"Roy would not have done this step if all of us weren't on board," Kristin Cooper said. "The first people that he asked, the first person he asked was me, and I said, 'Yes, I think it's a great idea.'"
She said she has no regrets after the first six months, but she does wish her husband could have a little more fun.
"I think he knew he had a hard job ahead of him when we came in, and we were pretty well prepared," she said.