Cookie Balcha has spent a lifetime in business, community service, and in creative pursuits, standing strong for what she believes. Deeply motivated to fight injustice and solve problems, Cookie refuses to back down when matters of principle and honesty are at stake. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1983, Cookie moved to United States at the age of 16. The experience of living in an unstable economy, including witnessing people struggling to make ends meet, was the catalyst to serve the greater global community.
Cookie has been working with the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington® as Operational Manager. POB is dedicated to the improvement and preservation of sight by providing services, education, advocacy and innovation. POB screens more than 8,000 children annually for vision loss and strabismus, and 5,000 adults for glaucoma. POB also provides thousands of low-income and homeless persons with eyeglasses.
In addition to her role at POB, Cookie studied and developed another career as a Real Estate Agent, owning her own property management company and working @home Real Estate. She fosters their ability to own or rent a home in the area so they can pursue their dreams and achieve economic success here. A mentor to several youth during her career, Cookie believes strongly in the importance of mentoring for children. Cookie also mentors adults who work at the POB Store in Alexandria. The Look Again store works with men and women through the Volunteer Alexandria program, enabling them to give back to the community through court-mandated community service. She provides a safe place and dignity to the participants of this program. Cookie hopes her experience of growing up Ethiopia can significantly reduce the number of people living in poverty and that they can have a growth strategy that is inclusive.