Donnette is a highly respected visual artist using the quilt form as her primary medium. She has exhibited extensively over the last 25 years, including: at the United Nations, Geneva; the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.; American Craft Museum (now Museum of Arts and Design), New York; Scuderie Aldobrandi, Rome; Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Washington, D.C.; Dean Gallery, Howard University; Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College; The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books, London; Mint Museum, North Carolina.; Adolfo and Marisela Cotilla Gallery, Nova Southeastern University, Florida.
Donnette’s quilts are in the permanent collection of Liberty Hall, the Legacy of Marcus Garvey, Jamaica; and the Museum of Black Civilisations, Senegal. Her exceptional work is documented in two books edited by Carolyn Mazloomi: Spirits of the Cloth: Contemporary African American Quilts and Journey of Hope: Quilts Inspired by President Barack Obama. Her story of becoming a quilter is archived at the Library of Congress as part of the Quilt Alliance “Save our Stories” oral history project to document, preserve and share the American quilt heritage. Donnette is a member of Daughters of Dorcas and Sons (Washington, DC) and Uhuru Quilters (Maryland) guilds. As a natural extension of her work in cloth, and inspired by her father's craftsmanship, Donnette has ventured into fashion design showcasing her work at Caribbean Fashion Week, Jamaica.
Furthermore, Donnette is an outstanding patron of the arts. She is an inaugural member of the National Museum of the American Indian. She has been a long-standing member of the National Museum of African Art. During the tenure of Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole as the Museum’s Director, Donnette was a member of the SANAA advisory committee—planning acquisitions, fundraising and conducting outreach to underserved communities. As a Schomburg Society Member, Donnette helps sustain the mission of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture--to research, preserve and illuminate the African American, African Diaspora and African experience. Donnette’s commitment to supporting institutions that memorialize these inter-twined histories motivated her to make a donation to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) soon after as it was established in 2003 by an act of Congress. This contribution earned her a place in American history as the first individual contributor to the NMAAHC.
Donnette was born in Kingston, Jamaica to Modesta Cooper, a primary school teacher, and George Cooper, a bespoke tailor. She attended the Rollington Town Primary School and St Hugh’s High School for Girls. She earned a BA in Psychology, with Elementary Teacher Certification, from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She attended Howard University School of Law, graduating cum laude, and later earned a Certificate of Legal Education from the Norman Manley School of Law, University of the West Indies, Mona. Donnette is a practicing attorney with the Government of the District of Columbia, specializing in community development through the financing of affordable housing.