The Hope After Polygamy founders are women who left polygamy and have firsthand experiences of the barriers faced by those transitioning out. Whether you are leaving (or have left) a polygamy compound or any other type of dominating polygamous group, it takes a lot of courage and so many unknowns to navigate. We understand and are here to support you.
Lu Ann Cooper - Board Member & President
Born and raised in a polygamous family. Lu Ann Cooper was married to her then 23 year old first cousin/Nephew at the age of 15 as his 4th wife. She was taught her whole life that was the only way into the celestial kingdom. However, at age 20 she decided there had to be a better life out there for her and her two daughters. After 5 years of marriage she hid her girls and packed up what she could and fled the polygamist group knowing that she would be leaving all other relationships and support behind. She left with no credit, no high school diploma, and no referrals or background that she could use to help her start her new life outside of the polygamous community. Starting from ground zero in supporting herself and her two kids she graduated high school and moved on to a community college to suffice her thirst for learning. Lu Ann has a passion for supporting others like herself that have chosen to leave polygamy and want a different life for themselves by helping them get an education and becoming functional citizens in their new community.
Julie Adkison - Board Member & Vice President
Julie Adkison walked away from polygamy at 19 years old in 1999 to try to build a better life. She married an Alabamian two years later and moved far away from “everything polygamy” to reset and start new. She began her education in Mobile, Alabama by first gaining her GED and then applying to a local University. Julie went on to receive her BS in Business Entrepreneurship. She graduated from the University of South Alabama in May of 2007 with honors. Julie’s education gave her the confidence she needed to survive in the “real world”.
Julie found herself back in Utah in June of 2016 and immediately began to get involved in the “polygamy fight”. Since moving back she has spoken publicly about the issues surrounding polygamy and has helped to pass laws that will protect the innocent in fundamentalist families. Julie believes strongly in protecting those who can’t protect themselves. She also knows first hand how much an education can empower, give confidence to, and help a surviving cult member once they enter the “real world”.
Julie is passionate about these issues and is excited for the future of this organization. Starting a non-profit organization, focused on education, has been a long-standing desire for her and she is happy to have found the perfect team to begin this endeavor.
Jessica Christensen - Board Member & Secretary
Jessica strongly believes in the importance of education, empowering women, and advocating against child abuse. Jessica always enjoyed learning, but as a child in polygamy she was denied an education and instructed by her father to work for Kingston polygamy businesses. When she realized her future was to be a child-bride, like her mother, she ran away from the only world she knew to break free from the cycle of polygamy and change her future. Through a very public child abuse case, she soaked up every opportunity to learn more about the world. Despite the gaps in her education, Jessica completed educational packets, re-enrolled into public high school, and earned her high school diploma. She did not stop there. Jessica obtained an associate's in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Psychology, then a bachelor's in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Social Work . Today, she is pursuing her Masters of Social Work. Jessica credits her education as the key difference between positive life choices and negative life choices after she left polygamy! This fuels her desire to link others leaving these polygamous groups to resources and education for their future success out of polygamy. She is passionate about empowering others and a true believer in paying it forward!
"The power and confidence I gained through my education, while navigating life outside of polygamy is a resource I want to make available to others!" -Jessica Christensen
Andrea Brewer - Board Member & Treasurer
Leaving polygamy at 12 years old, Andrea relied on support from the foster care system to transition into the outside world. She had the unique opportunity of a full ride scholarship to a private middle school that became an anchor in her chaotic life. Moving from one foster placement to the next, she experienced the justice system’s power to protect children, and watched its failures firsthand as the courts left her siblings behind. Andrea turned to education as a source of information to process her childhood, and an opportunity to create a future. This ignited her drive to use her freedom to help others. Although she eventually moved to a different state, the year and a half spent at that private school set the foundation for Andrea to truly believe she could become anything she wanted. However, nobody makes it alone. Andrea relied on multiple scholarships to finance her bachelor’s degree in social work, and ultimately earn her law degree. Now, she is excited to use her experiences to provide educational resources to others who have left polygamy.
A passion for showing people they can achieve their dreams was inspired when Jessica left a polygamous group at age twenty-four, a process that had taken her two years. Groomed to be married by the age of sixteen to her cousin meant she was supposed to stunt her education to be a wife and mother. After enduring physical, emotional and mental abuse, her marriage quickly fell apart when her husband pursued her half-sister. With four children three years old and under, she adamantly did not want them to grow up under an abusive or polygamous relationship. Jessica truly believed what she was taught from birth in this sheltered self-isolated group. Finally in 2014, believing that she would most likely 'go to hell' she left her husband, willing to take that risk and decided to step into the unknown. Fortunately, she was able to utilize the hard-work ethic she was taught and quickly got back on her feet rebuilding her life. She is quickly climbing the corporate ladder and gaining consumer banking experience in her career. Jessica has a passion for learning and is currently pursuing a bachelors degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. She is excited to assist others who want a better their situation with education opportunities!
“Education with an open mind, has made a world of difference in my life. I see now that the 'evil' outside world I was taught to fear, is limited only to evil deeds that are done. There is an ability in people to bring peace and love, and usually associated with that is an education that has encouraged different perspectives.” – Jessica Kingston