Bexley resident Almeta Cooper was surprised to be named one of the YWCA's six Women of Achievement for 2009.

Bexley resident Almeta Cooper was surprised to be named one of the YWCA's six Women of Achievement for 2009.

"Naturally, I was very excited," she said. "It is a tremendous honor when you look at the other women that I know who have been Women of Achievement."

Cooper is the associate general counsel for health sciences at Ohio State University Medical Center. In 2003, she became the first African-American woman president of the American Health Lawyer's Association.

She also has been involved with the Links Inc., a volunteer service organization, and the Women's Fund of Central Ohio.

She has volunteered at the YWCA homeless shelter for three years and tutors Hyland Elementary kindergartners as part of the Columbus Reads program.

"When they test in the spring, you can see that you have been able to make a difference," she said.

Students at Hyland speak at least 20 languages. Many do not have family members at home who speak English.

Cooper said both of her parents were social workers and she learned the value of volunteerism at an early age.

"I had a very loving and supportive family," she said. "To be able to give to others is personally rewarding."

There are many different paths to make a contribution, Cooper said. Volunteers can make calls from home or send e-mails, but those efforts have a cumulative effect, she said.

Cooper plans to stay active in volunteerism, and she might even have more time to devote to causes after her daughter graduates from college.

Cooper has been a Bexley resident since 2003.

"I love the Bexley community because it is a walking community with great neighbors," she said.

Nominees for the YWCA Women of Achievement honor must demonstrate the YWCA vision of elimination of racism and empowerment of women; give back to their community through time, talent and/or resources; help women and girls achieve their goals and provide leadership in her profession and/or community.

This year's winners will be honored at a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 8 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.