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Coco Community: Meet the Inaugural Board of Directors

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Coco Coalition has recently selected a dynamic group of board members from around the US. Our leaders have significantly impacted the fields of Education, Wellness, Finance, Business Administration, and Community Organizing. Read below to meet our fantastic board.

President-Gleneara E. Bates-Pappas, LMSW, MPhil, PhD (c) (she/her), is a psycho-oncology Research Fellow Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She received her master’s from Columbia University School of Social Work and is currently a doctoral candidate at City University of New York Graduate Center. Her research focuses on two main areas. 1) examining patterns and drivers of tobacco treatment engagement among Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino cancer patients. 2) Exploring the multi-level barriers for tobacco treatment delivery by examining the unintended and perceived barriers to accessing tobacco treatment. Within these topics, she is dedicated to cultivating expertise in the application of mixed methods and implementation science to developing and training providers and treatment teams on culturally sensitive strategies for engagement of Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino patients in evidence-based tobacco treatment. She is currently a member of two Cancer Center Cessation Initiative (C3i) working groups: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion working group, and Telehealth working group

Secretary- Mimo Haile-Smith has ten years of experience managing various projects such as violence and homelessness prevention and HIV research & prevention in Africa and is a founder of Coco Coalition. She recently was a Lead Strategist/Project Manager for a Marketing and Communication firm, focusing on racial and health equity projects. And now works in bringing diversity to the gaming industry. She also co-runs a family-owned coffee company specializing in Ethiopian coffee called Mimo's Coffee. Her creative outlet includes taking various dance classes, drawing, playing video games, watching anime, and spending time with her dog, Spice, her life partner Dario, and her son, Yoshi.

Treasurer- Mary Robinson has more than 10 years of business development and finance experience and is a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. She and her team manage over 200 million in assets for families and non-profits across the country. A trailblazer, she is the first black woman to graduate from Merrill Lynch’s rigorous financial advisor development program in the DC office in its 76-year history. Mary also gives back to the communities she serves and gives her time to the Halycon Incubator and Women In Technology where she mentors and supports social entrepreneurs with her knowledge and experience of venture capital fundraising and business sales models. She also donates her time to helping Together We Bake, which provides comprehensive workforce training and personal development to underserved and underrepresented women. Mary and her husband live in Fort Washington, MD, and she graduated from Elon University.

Racquel Fullman is a mentor, philanthropist, and storyteller. A self-proclaimed "self-love activist and body positivity enthusiast", Racquel shares vulnerable lessons and experiences in the areas of life, love, and laughter on her blog, With Love, Racquel, as well as across her social media platforms. She is also an experienced copywriter and freelance lifestyle journalist, and has written for The Chicago Defender, American Dental Association, Rewire, and The Everygirl. There, she focuses on features, profiles of Black businesses, virtual and local events, health and wellness, love and relationships, as well as personal essays on growth, self-care, and self-discovery. Racquel is currently a writer for My Happy Flo, xoNecole, and Signature Bride, as well as a communications professional for a local non-profit. Racquel aims to continue to inspire people through her philanthropic efforts, empowering women to be “unapologetic in her dopeness”, and finding new ways to fall in love with and be proud of themselves every day. She can be found on all social platforms @withloveracquel.

Kevin Holloway has an extensive background in organizational development, operational excellence, and people management. His passion lies within human development as Kevin teaches a ‘people-first’ success model as a private consultant for small and large businesses alike. Whether it is a keynote address or an intimate mentor/mentee conversation, Kevin enjoys sharing his lessons for all to learn from and avoid pitfalls of their own. As a business professional, Kevin has been accountable for billions of dollars in P&L statements and leads thousands of employees to achieve common goals. Kevin received his bachelor's from CSU, Fresno, and earned his MBA from Carson School of Business at Washington State University.

Krystle is a yoga therapist and content specialist. She has spent her career helping others access the tools they need to thrive. She is especially passionate about creating spaces where black women can heal holistically. In her free time, Krystle loves to spend time with her son and husband.

Taliah Chatterfield is a tenure-track faculty General Counselor at Irvine Valley College. Prior, she worked as a full-time Black Student Success Counselor at Pasadena City College. Additionally, she worked at Santiago Canyon College as an Adjunct Counselor in the Pathways to Teaching Program as well as supporting Black students in Umoja, being a Faculty Club Advisor for the Black Student Union, and counseling Veterans. She is a California State University alum receiving a master's degree in Education Counseling from San Diego State University and a master's degree in Sports Management from Long Beach State University. Taliah decided to work in education to help students navigate college because she understands how challenging it can be as Black, first-generation, and student-athlete who didn't understand all the opportunities and resources that college had to offer during her time in college. In her free time, Taliah loves to travel to places such as Ghana, Bali, Jamaica, Thailand and many more! She looks forward to serving women of the African diaspora in areas of education, mental health, social, and emotional health.

Velesha Louise Burke is a second-generation perinatal specialist, doula, holistic lifestyle educator, birth activist, and cultural belly binding practitioner passionate about service to expectant and new mothers. Her combined expertise in women’s wellness and birth work is over eight years in practice. A Multi-talented individual, Cultural Anthropologist, and Social Justice Activist are esteemed titles Velesha is proud to have behind her name. She holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College and a Bachelor of Science in Global Communications from Morgan State University.

She has worked with women from the DMV and Tri-state areas which then expanded to serve women overseas from diverse communities in person and virtually: women of color and deployed military families from North America and Europe. While overseas, Velesha served as a Doula and partner on the maternal care platform- Gravidamiga and The European Doula Network. She resides in the DMV and is a mother of two high-spirited children, ages ten and five years old.

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