As a teenage refugee from Liberia, Macdella Cooper gained a full academic scholarship to the College of New Jersey, modelling for fashion companies and magazines to cover her expenses. In 2003, when the second Liberian civil war ended, MacDella travelled back to Liberia for the first time since leaving as a young refugee and founded The Macdella Cooper Foundation to help fight poverty. In 2008, the foundation built a boarding school to provide education, housing, and healthcare to orphaned and abandoned children.
MacDella focuses on empowering women and girls from diverse backgrounds, providing them with new opportunities, and teaching children how to engage with their communities both academically and politically in order to have a more positive and powerful impact.
In October 2016, MacDella announced that she would run for president in the 2017 Liberian election, against 19 male opponents. Her platform focused on empowering women and girls, free education, universal health care, electricity for all, anti-corruption, and reforming land ownership.