Facilitators. Project managers. Researchers. Strategic thinkers.  Engagement specialists. Coalition builders. Communicators. Educators. Passionate, altruistic, leaders.

All these and more form the backbone of the Coordination Team behind the COVID-19 Regional Response Team. Led by Jason Purnell, PhD, MPH, the team meets six days a week with a singular focus – what decisions can be made today to improve health and social outcomes tomorrow for our region’s most vulnerable populations.

Meet The Team

Rebeccah Bennett, MPP
Founder and Principal, Emerging Wisdom

Rebeccah Bennett is Founder and Principal of Emerging Wisdom LLC and its subsidiary, InPower Institute.Emerging Wisdom is a forward-thinking social enterprise that helps individuals live empowered lives; leaders build impactful organizations, and communities advance brighter futures.Rebeccah and her team conduct community healing programs, organizational improvement efforts, and multi-stakeholder social transformation initiatives.They provide consulting, training, facilitation and planning to an array of clients including nonprofit institutions, corporations, government agencies, foundations, faith-based institutions, and networks.

Doneisha Bohannon, MPH
Senior Strategist, Missouri Foundation for Health

Doneisha Bohannon is a Senior Strategist with Missouri Foundation for Health, an independent philanthropic foundation committed to improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities most in need. She partners with a diverse array of community organizations across the state to develop strategies and solutions that will generate positive changes in health to help Missourians thrive. She has led a variety of health promotion programs at the local, state, and national levels throughout her career and currently serves on variety of professional committees.

Karishma Furtado
Signature Research & Data Catalyst, Forward Through Ferguson

Karishma is the Data and Research Catalyst for Forward Through Ferguson. She has a PhD and MPH in Public Health and studies the link between race, racism, and well-being, especially in schools.She supports the COVID-19 Regional Response Team with research, data, and analysis capacity.

Kelly Ferrara
President, StratCommRx

Kelly Ferrara leads engagement and strategic communication solutions for StratCommRx clients across nonprofit, government and for-profit sectors. She has engaged audiences for clients in infrastructure, health care, public utilities, education, supply chain logistics, municipal leadership and more. A consultant for more than 20 years, Kelly’s experience in public relations and community engagement stemmed from a background in the nonprofit world.


Aviva Needle
Administrative Assistant, Health Equity Works

Aviva is the administrative assistant for Health Equity Works, where she provides support for the project through event planning, technology integration, and organization of project data. She has worked in higher education for more than ten years and received her BA in journalism.

Katie Kaufmann
Director, Ready by 21

Katie is the Director of Ready by 21 St. Louis, a collective impact initiative organized around improved life outcomes for children and youth.Katie has worked to improve child wellbeing at all levels, from trying to change the life trajectory of a classroom full of students to working to reimagine and change the systems that impact the life trajectory of children and youth across the three-county St. Louis, MO region.She has a passion around developing the talents of others and leveraging the expertise of diverse constituents to make the community better.

Grace Kyung, MPH
Project Manager, C19 Regional Response Team

Grace is a systems thinker who works to dismantle the root causes of inequities to improve the quality of life for individuals. She works as a catalyst in changing how to plan for communities by applying a health and racial equity lens to equitable development. To do this in a just way, she works alongside community members to recognize historical circumstances and the current conditions necessary to achieve equity. Grace is also a Culture of Health Leader with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Monique S. Thomas
Managing Director, Magnificant

Monique S. Thomas, Managing Director of Magnificant, a minority-led, resource company offering products, services, and systems to nurture global minority talent, and has recently expanded to include project management and strategic planning services to build the capacity of leaders interested in advancing racial equity.


Jessie Pritch
Program Assistant, Missouri Foundation for Health

Jessie Pritch has been with Missouri Foundation for Health for thirteen years.  Working mainly in the program area, she has supported various initiatives over the years including infant mortality reduction, gun violence prevention, and preventing unintended pregnancy.  She received a degree in Criminal Justice in 2008.

Jason Purnell, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor, Brown School at Washinginton University / Health Equity Works

Jason Purnell is an associate professor in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and the Director of Health Equity Works, an initiative based in research and collaborative working to advance equity in St. Louis. Dr. Purnell and his team have been instrumental in convening cross-sector stakeholders for strategic response to disparities in health, education, and economic status across the region. Several of the recommendations in his team’s groundbreaking For the Sake of All report were included among the signature calls to action of the Ferguson Commission.