Ida Elaine Copeland, nee Johnson, was born at Catawba, South Carolina on March 11, 1943, Copeland is the second of three children of Roberta Lucille Johnson, a teacher born at East Spencer, North Carolina on March 5, 1917 (died January 8, 1968), and Aaron Jasper Johnson,a teacher born at Catawba on January 22, 1908 (died February 2, 1979). She is married to Robert McDaniel Copeland, a university administrator born at Hendersonville, North Carolina on May 12, 1943. They have a son. She lived in South and North Carolina until she moved to Oregon in 1970 and then to Champaign in 1974. She received a B.S. (1964) from Livingstone' College in Salisbury, North Carolina; a M.A.T. (1971) from Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South CarolIna; and a Ph.D. (1974) from Oregon State University. Prior to 1974 she worked as a biology teacher and a psychological counselor. Since then she has worked for the University of Illinois, where she was in the 1980s the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. Her honors include awards from Bethel AME Church in Champaign and the Black Graduate Student Association as well as membership in Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and recognition in VVho's VVho in the Midwest, VVho's VVho Among American Women, and Outstanding Young Women of America. She is a member of Bethel AME Church in Champaign, where she is active in Willing Workers. Her affiliations have included Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, University YWCA, NCNW, and the C-U Girls Club Board. She has published numerous book reviews and scholarly studies in journals such as Personnel and Guidance Journal, Counselor Education and Supervision, Women in Therapy, and Journal of Non-White Concerns in Personnel and Guidance. "Important to accomplishing any objective is the belief that you can succeed," Copeland said in a 1980s interview. "We must believe in the worth of every human being and strive to make the world a better place for ourselves and others."