Nicole Cope leads the Missouri Immunization Coalition as Executive Director. Nicole joined the Missouri Immunization Coalition as the Interim Executive Director in September 2020 and became the Executive Director in January 2021. Nicole has taken Missouri Immunization Coalition from a startup to a fully staffed nonprofit raising vaccine awareness through immunization education, advocacy, promotion, and statewide collaborative partnerships. Nicole has been recognized and inducted into the Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health. She has also been nominated for the 2022 National Conference for Immunization Coalitions and Partnerships (NCICP) emerging leader award. Most recently, Nicole led her team in preparation for and successful execution of the second annual Missouri Immunization Conference. This statewide conference focused on reducing the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases through continuing education for healthcare providers.
Before joining the Missouri Immunization Coalition, Nicole was an accomplished leader in the United States Army Medical Corps, where she served for 24 years and earned the rank of First Sergeant. She is the recipient of numerous achievement and exemplary service awards from the Army. Nicole provided critical medical care to service members during her military tenure, spent 12 years as an Army Flight Medic, and was the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of a medical treatment facility at Camp Buehring in Kuwait.
Nicole is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with minors in Nutrition Science and Psychology and a Master of Public Health Degree.
Nicole has spent her career managing and developing programs and educational outreach across the globe in Cambodia, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But global health starts at home, and she is excited to take this next step in her international public health career to lead efforts to boost vaccination rates across her home state of Missouri as the new Director of Programs for the Missouri Immunization Coalition.
As the Coalition’s new Director of Programs, Nicole is focused on targeted, community-driven solutions to promote immunizations and protect Missourians against all vaccine-preventable diseases. She brings a decade of expertise in understanding the social determinants of health and building collaborative relationships across cultures and geographies with stakeholders at every level to ensure buy-in, sustainability, and success of her programs.
Nicole holds a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Anthropology and a certificate in Multicultural Studies from the University of Missouri. She earned her Master of Public Health degree in Global Health from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University with a concentration in Reproductive Health and Population Studies and a certificate in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies. Nicole started at the Missouri Immunization Coalition in January 2022.
Paloma is a highly experienced communications strategist proficient in developing campaigns targeting multicultural audiences and underserved populations. As Director of Communications for Missouri Immunization Coalition, she designs strategies and oversees statewide and local campaigns aimed at creating awareness for vaccines to increase immunization rates across Missouri and reduce the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Before joining the coalition, she was producing campaigns to promote and educate about COVID-19 testing and vaccines among underrepresented communities in Kansas. In addition, she has an extensive career record in television, performing journalistic investigations for relevant media in New England, Dominican Republic, Kansas, and Missouri. She has served as an anchor, multimedia journalist, and producer.
Her work has been recognized in Massachusetts, Kansas, and the Dominican Republic. Paloma earned a Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra.
Kelechi Onyeaka has been supporting disease-prevention strategies and policies for many years in different countries. Serving as a Public Health Educator for Missouri Immunization Coalition (MIC), he aids the organization’s efforts to reduce the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases by providing statewide training and programs that promote vaccine uptake. His efforts also include creating and distributing promotional and educational resources to support Local Public Health Agencies, Federally Qualified Health Agencies, small rural and critical access hospitals to encourage vaccination among diverse audiences.
Before joining MIC, Kelechi was a Fellow at the Community Health Center in Connecticut, where he worked on improving healthcare services to underserved populations. In addition, he has international experiences that enhance access to Human Immunodeficiency Virus services among the general and most-at-risk population in the Nigerian Public Health sector. One of his most rewarding career accomplishments is his contribution to improving access to routine immunization for children. This effort led Nigeria to be declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.
In addition to his work experiences, Kelechi has co-authored academic papers in peer-reviewed journals on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among African Americans and the role of health promotion programs in improving the wellbeing of African Americans in Mid-Missouri.
Kelechi holds a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Missouri, Columbia where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health and Rehabilitation Science with emphasis on public health.
John Shelby serves the Missouri Immunization Coalition as a Communications Specialist. As an accomplished communicator, John works closely with the MIC’s Communications Director to coordinate communications efforts with executives and other stakeholders.
Before joining the Missouri Immunization Coalition, John worked as a journalist for 23 years. He managed and led newsrooms from Washington State to New York State. John has successfully completed the Poynter Institutes Leadership for TV and Radio News Directors program. A program designed to challenge, mentor and develop newsroom leaders. The Poynter Institute is recognized as a “global leader in journalism.”
Subsequently, John worked as a communications director and legislative aide in the Missouri Senate. Most recently, he served as an adjunct professor at State Fair Community College, where he taught public speaking.
John graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. He also holds a Master of Arts in Communications Management from Webster University.
Kay has a bookkeeping, travel, and office management background and has worked in many different office environments. She enjoys being the administrative assistant at the Missouri Immunization Coalition because working for such a wonderful cause is rewarding.