Her high school didn't have a student newspaper, so her junior year she started writing for a newspaper.
She majored in journalism and English in college. She was the senior editor of her college newspaper.
After, she taught high school journalism. She started a newspaper at a high school in Brick Township, New Jersey. She also started a student newspaper at Ocean County College.
When she moved to Florida, she taught journalism at a community college.
She became the first Director of Student Activities at Florida International University. Part of her job was to start a newspaper.
At the time, FIU didn't have a journalism program. They started to offer communication classes and eventually made a communications department.
Then, she worked as the Director of Public Relations for FIU.
Once the communications department was formalized, she was moved over as the chair for the department. She's been at FIU for 42 years.
When the program started in 1980, they had typewriters. She compares the program from back then to today's multimedia.
She says South Florida is very diverse. FIU is a minority university.
FIU's journalism department is 82% minority, and 71% is Hispanic. She says the department has seen an evolution of a language skills program.
Early on, they developed a language skills test. And the skills test evolved over decades. They started grammar workshops due to low test scores.
Employers say FIU students have excellent language skills.
She talks about advocating for minority women in leadership skills, with regard to the communication areas.
In the 1980's they developed a course, "Reporting in a Multiethnic Community." It's now a required course.
Students will go out into different communities and create multimedia.
Her first AEJMC convention was in 1968 at The University of Kansas. The opening night reception was at a barn. She said the organization was all white males because most journalism professions were male-oriented.
Kopenhaver has been very involved with AEJMC; she's held positions like chair of newspaper division, chair of council of affiliates, etc. In these positions, she's always tried to develop programs to help women.
She also started the Junior College Journalism Association. Her goal there was to diversify and bring more women into leadership.
She says women dominating the journalism field is a "natural" thing. She talks about the role of women throughout history.
She was FIU's dean of the school of journalism until 2011. She wanted to help young women get leadership roles in the communications field so she created the Lilian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication. Activities started in May 2013.
The first webinar speaker was a female reporter with the Miami Herald. She was the first Hispanic women to head a major metropolex daily paper in the nation.
The center's mission is to "train the women leaders of tomorrow in the fields of communication to give them encouragement and empowerment ..."
They do pre-convention workshops for women who wish to get higher positions in academia. They have fellows and cohorts of 20. They have 4-hour trainings every summer.
According to Kopenhaver, the young women are getting ahead. She gets notes from them saying they published their first book or they're a department chair. They have reunions with the fellows every year.
At the yearly convention, they co-sponsor a workshop with the Commission on the Status of Women.
They're planning a panel discussion with the Commission, "Equity and Equality - When Will Women Get There." Also, a national survey of women in the communications field to find the role and status of women across all communication industries.
Once the results are in, they will present the data at the AEJMC convention.
There's been many connections through the center with AEJMC. She started a "young scholar" award. They award the winner a $250 check and a plaque.
She says people move back and forth between the industry and academic world. Her fellows are a diverse group.
Technology has changed the curriculum, but students are trained well enough to survive across all communication platforms.
She talks about a student who is now a managing editor at the Sun Sentinel; she works on a digital platform.
Some students work in public radio, like at WLRN. She says they also work in the digital field.
She arrived in Miami in the early 1970's. The Society of Professional Journalists had just decided to allow women in the organization. She was elected President of the chapter. She met with former presidents where one told her the organization was ruined when they allowed women in.
The chapter had more female presidents after her, and she says journalism in South Florida has changed since then.
She holds a Wells Memorial Key from SPJ. She was the second woman to be awarded the key.
She says we all have to do our part to make sure we are representative of the population. The nation holds women at 51% of the population. Women are still a minority in the business sector. Minority women are even lower.
She says diversity makes all of our lives better and more interesting. Women need to be represented across all fields of communication.
She hopes people think she helped in regard to having a vision. One of her goals was to involve the professionals in the communication industries with academics.
She expands more on the panel discussion she is planning.
She hopes she's remembered for trying to diversify professionals in academics, and more.