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A Coalition to Strengthen the
Community’s Involvement in an
Equitable Vaccination Rollout

Who to contact:

Technical inquiries
Monica Schoch-Spana, PhD
Emily K. Brunson, PhD, MPH

Media requests
Margaret Miller
Director of Communications


CommuniVax builds off work completed by the CONVERGE Working Group. Learn more.

Read COVID-19 Vaccine Development, Policy, and Public Perception in the US updates.

CommuniVax is a national alliance of social scientists, public health experts, and community advocates who seek lasting solutions to a serious problem: in the United States, historically underserved Black, Indigenous, and Latino populations have endured negative health and economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic at tragic and disproportionate rates. While these communities could benefit greatly from safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, longstanding biases and barriers hinder their access to and acceptance of vaccination.

The coalition is strengthening national and local COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the United States by putting communities of color at the center of those endeavors. The coalition is listening to Black, Indigenous, and Latino/Latinx individuals on how best to promote awareness of, access to, and acceptability of COVID-19 vaccines in their respective communities; and developing longstanding, local governance systems that enable underserved groups to exercise collective agency over their own health and wellness, during this pandemic and going forward. Funding for CommuniVax is provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

CommuniVax relies on efforts from 3 groups: local teams, a central working group, and national stakeholders.

  • Local Teams are composed of resident researchers, grassroots leaders, and public health implementers. They will engage local communities of color to identify improvements needed to vaccine delivery and communication strategies in their communities.
  • The Central Working Group includes experts in public health, public policy, medical science, anthropology, and public involvement. With input from diverse stakeholders, the working group will coordinate the local research processes and ensure the implementation of findings nationwide
  • National Stakeholders represent groups with political, technical, cultural, and social justice perspectives on vaccine delivery and uptake. These associations will amplify information generated from local teams within their networks and provide feedback to the central working group.

The Local Teams:

CommuniVax has 5 local teams working with communities where they’ve fostered strong, long-standing relationships.

Tuscaloosa, AL (University of Alabama)
San Diego, CA  (San Diego State University)
Bingham and Power counties, ID (Idaho State University)
Baltimore, MD (Johns Hopkins University/Centro SOL)
Prince George’s County, MD (University of Maryland)


Principal Investigators:

Monica Schoch-Spana, PhD

Monica Schoch-Spana, PhD - expertise in public health emergencies, participatory policymaking, community resilience to disasters, crisis and crisis emergency risk communication. Dr. Schoch-Spana is a medical anthropologist and Senior Scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She has co- led development of evidence-informed recommendations to improve public uptake of future COVID-19 vaccines and helped to design an ethical framework for the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines.


Emily K. Brunson, PhD

Emily K. Brunson, PhD - expertise in vaccination decision making, health care access, social inequalities, qualitative data collection and analysis, and public health policy. Dr. Brunson is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Anthropology at Texas State University. She co-led the NSF-sponsored Working Group on Readying Populations for COVID-19 Vaccines.



The Central Working Group:

Ray Bonilla, Jr., MBA

Ray Bonilla, Jr., MBA – expertise in health systems management, business continuity, disaster recovery. Mr. Bonilla is the Executive Director for Resilience and Recovery Services at Kaiser Permanente, the largest nonprofit integrated health care delivery system in the US. Mr. Bonilla is a healthcare resilience executive, planning commission chairman, board member of the county’s homeless agency, and advocate for equity and community resilience.


Ysabel Duron, BA

Ysabel Duron, BA – expertise in patient advocacy, journalism, health equity, community engagement. Ms. Duron is President of the Latino Cancer Institute, a nonprofit community and research network dedicated to promoting education, services, research, and policy for Latinos nationwide around issues of cancer. A pioneering, award-winning Latina journalist and cancer survivor, she has been committed to educating, supporting and providing essential services to low-income Spanish speakers suffering from the disease.


Divya Hosangadi, MSPH

Divya Hosangadi, MSPH - expertise in vaccine science and policy, mass vaccination implementation, infodemic management, and global health. Ms. Hosangadi is a Senior Analyst at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, where she primarily assesses strategies to optimize mass vaccination as well as management of misinformation during public health emergencies. Formerly, Ms. Hosangadi worked at WHO and the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center where she helped coordinate efforts to update policy on global pneumococcal conjugate vaccine use.


Nancy Kass, ScD

Nancy Kass, ScD – expertise in bioethics and health policy, ethics and public health preparedness, ethical guidance for infectious disease outbreaks, research ethics. Dr. Kass is the Phoebe R. Berman Professor of Bioethics and Public Health at Johns Hopkins, where she is also both the Deputy Director for Public Health in the Berman Institute of Bioethics and Professor of Health Policy and Management in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Richard Krieg, PhD

Richard Krieg, PhD –expertise in government, healthcare and public health, policy development and implementation. Dr. Krieg is former Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Director of Policy Analysis and Planning for the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, Associate Dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, and President of the Horizon Foundation, a philanthropy whose mission includes equity in public health outcomes.


Heidi Larson, PhD

Heidi Larson, PhD – expertise in social/political effects upon uptake of health interventions, vaccine hesitancy, vaccine delivery strategies, public health policy. Dr. Larson is Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project™ and Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She formerly headed Global Immunisation Communication at UNICEF, chaired GAVI’s Advocacy Task Force, and served on the WHO SAGE Working Group on vaccine hesitancy.


Meredith Le-Vollmer, PhD

Meredith Li-Vollmer, PhD – expertise in risk communication, community engagement, and health equity. Dr. Vollmer is a Risk Communication Specialist for Public Health—Seattle & King County, where she leads planning for communications during emergencies, including medical countermeasures, scarce medical resources, and audience research with hardly-reached communities. She is a Researcher with the University of Washington Preparedness & Emergency Response Research Center.


Walt Orenstein, MD

Walt Orenstein, MD – expertise in pediatrics, infectious diseases, immunization, vaccine confidence, and barriers to vaccine access. Dr. Orenstein – Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, Global Health, and Pediatrics – is Associate Director of the Emory Vaccine Center and Director, Emory Vaccine Policy and Development. Formerly, he directed the United States Immunization Program and chaired the National Vaccine Advisory Committee when it developed a report on building vaccine confidence.


Gregory Poland, MD

Gregory Poland, MD – expertise in immunology, infectious diseases, immunogenetics of vaccine response in adults and children, vaccine confidence and patient education. Dr. Poland is Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic and Consultant with the Departments of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (Pediatric Infectious Diseases) and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.


Lois Privor-Dumm, IMBA

Lois Privor-Dumm, IMBA – expertise in vaccine hesitancy, vaccine policymaking/implementation, new vaccine introduction. Ms. Privor-Dumm is Senior Advisor, Policy, Advocacy & Communications and Director, Adult Vaccines, at the Johns Hopkins University International Vaccine Access Center. Ms. Privor-Dumm formerly worked in the pharmaceutical industry, holding senior roles in regional operations (Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa), global R&D commercial strategy, and US operations.


Claire Qureshi, MBA

Claire Qureshi, MBA – expertise in community health systems, partnership and collaborative building, and systems change. She serves as Senior Director for US initiatives at the Community Health Acceleration Partnership (CHAP), hosted by the Office of the WHO Ambassador for Global Strategy. Ms. Qureshi was a co-founder of the Community-Based Workforce Alliance and the Financing Alliance for Health, and she helped lead the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Global to Local” Task Force on community health.


Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD

Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD – expertise in vaccine acceptance in emergency situations; racial disparities in vaccine uptake; crisis & emergency risk communication with minorities; engagement of minorities in research. Dr. Quinn is Professor of Family Science and Department Chair and Senior Associate Director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity, School of Public Health at the University of Maryland.


Sanjana Ravi, MPH

Sanjana Ravi, MPH – expertise in health systems- strengthening, responses to humanitarian crises, infectious disease management, disaster response/recovery, “last mile” vaccination challenges. Ms. Ravi is Senior Analyst at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Senior Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a Doctoral Candidate in International Health (JHSPH).


Elisa J. Sobo, PhD

Elisa J. Sobo, PhD – expertise in rapid ethnographic assessment, COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 conspiracies, vaccine hesitancy (selectivity and refusal), and public distrust of healthcare systems among disadvantaged groups. Dr. Sobo is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at San Diego State University. A sociocultural anthropologist, Dr. Sobo specializes in health, illness, and medicine, including a focus on risk perception, pediatric vaccination, and health care organizational and communication issues.


Maddie Taylor, BS

Maddie Taylor, BS - expertise in youth development, cross- cultural education, and strategic relationship building. Ms. Taylor is a Master’s Student in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and former Fulbright scholar. Her interests lie in health systems strengthening at state and local levels, risk communication, and public health emergency management.


Stephen B. Thomas

Stephen B. Thomas, PhD – expertise in racial and ethnic health disparities, translation of science into community-based interventions, health promotion and disease prevention. Dr. Thomas is Professor of Health Policy and Management and the Director for the Maryland Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. He is PI on the Center of Excellence in Race, Ethnicity and Health Disparities Research, funded by the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities.


Marc Trotochaud, MSPH

Marc Trotochaud, MSPH – expertise in health education and health communication, misinformation and disinformation, public health emergency preparedness, news content analysis. Mr. Trotochaud is an Analyst at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is currently working on projects concerning the COVID-19 “infodemic.”


Tener Goodwin Veenema

Tener Goodwin Veenema, PhD, MPH, MS, RN – expertise in disaster nursing, public health emergency preparedness, health services research and policy. Dr. Veenema is Professor of Nursing at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and in the Department of International Health. She has served on the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness and the NAM Standing Committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Strategic National Stockpile.


Stacey Walker, BA

Stacey Walker, BA – expertise in local/state government; strategies to address systemic poverty; growth and development; community resilience to disasters. Mr. Walker is a leader elected to the Linn County (Iowa) Board of Supervisors – as the first African American to hold the position. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Linn County Public Health Department, the Workforce Development CEO Board, and the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) Justice & Public Safety Steering Committee.


Beth Weaver, MS

Beth Weaver, MS – expertise in designing and convening consensus-building and interest-based dialogues to help communities and policymakers address complex public health, social, and environmental issues at the local and national level. Through her facilitation, mediation, and strategic planning work, Ms. Weaver, a Senior Mediator at RESOLVE, primarily focuses on issues relating to strengthening public health infrastructure, enhancing emergency preparedness and response efforts, and balancing environmental protections with the social, cultural, and economic interests of communities.


Alexandre “Sasha” White, PhD

Alexandre “Sasha” White, PhD – expertise in social effects of outbreaks; racism, colonialism and public health history; epidemic governance systems. Dr. White is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Sociology and History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. He co-leads the HPC Data Hub which offers timely U.S. county-level data on social, economic and health disparities – critical information needed to respond appropriately to the pandemic as local situations change.





Our Mission

To protect people’s health from epidemics and disasters and ensure that communities are resilient to major challenges.