Committed to change and to each other.
COVID Survivors for Change is a nationwide community of survivors fighting for a stronger pandemic response to save lives by supporting survivors, remembering those who have died, and advocating for public health measures to prevent future pandemics. We do this by offering trauma informed resources and programs, sharing and amplifying survivor stories, and taking action to bring about legislative and cultural change. Our volunteers are active in all 50 states, have trained more than 700 COVID survivors on advocacy and self-care, and have provided more than 2,100 hours of support with mental health professionals.
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Our Policy Priorities
We advocate for a variety of policies at the state and federal level that exemplify our mission to support survivors, remember those who have died and prevent future pandemics. The policies range from financial support to COVID-19 survivors and scholarships for children whose parents died from COVID, to expanding health care support for Long Haulers and memorializing those who lost their lives to the virus.
Chris Kocher is the founder and executive director of COVID Survivors for Change and helped create the National COVID-19 Remembrance, a COVID memorial and art installation that involved 20,000 empty chairs on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. He previously served as the founding director of the Everytown Survivor Network, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. He launched this nationwide community of gun violence survivors working together to end gun violence while serving as Special Counsel in the New York City Mayor’s office. Chris is an attorney and first generation college graduate of Cornell University and Duke Law School. You can find Chris on Twitter at @chrisjkocher.
Charonda Johnson serves as the Strategic Partnerships Manager for Covid Survivors for Change. She served in the United States Air Force (USAF) for more than 7 years working in Intelligence. She did 2 deployments in support of missions for Iraq. After leaving the military, Charonda served as the military and veteran constituent advocate for President (who was then a US Senator) Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his predecessor U.S Senator Edward E. Kaufman. Shortly after that, she served as a Survivor Outreach Coordinator at the Delaware National Guard taking care of families of our nation’s military’s fallen. She also worked as a Project Manager at JPMorgan. After becoming a mom, and prior to the pandemic, Charonda spent much of her spare time speaking, singing, and leading worship in church. However, in July 2020 Charonda’s father caught covid while leading worship at a church that chose not to mask. Her father died on August 17, 2020. Since then Charonda’s primary focus has been healing, processing, spending time with her husband and son, and advocating for families that have lost loved ones to covid. She has done advocacy work at the state and National level. Most recently she advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 1 in Delaware & has worked with Delaware’s state leadership to establish permanent covid memorials throughout her home state of Delaware.
Robert (Bob) Moreno, Ph.D is a native of Houston,Texas and a longtime resident of San Antonio. Bob’s commitment to serve the needs of the community is rooted in a foundation created by his parents, Antonio and Dora Moreno. His years of service is diverse: Catholic priest ministering along the border of Texas; housing counselor for low income families; management analyst for federally funded programs for asset building and homelessness, spiritual director for a homeless transitional living program, director of a faith formation program for children and adults, and most recently, Organizing Associate with COVID Survivors for Change.
Bob received his Bachelor of Social Work and Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Our Lady of the Lake University and his Master of Divinity degree from Oblate School of Theology. He serves on the Board of Directors with San Antonio Alternative Housing Corp. and the Institutional Review Board with Texas A&M San Antonio.
Bob has a strong foundation in community service as a result of his parent’s mentoring examples. He has three brothers and four sisters residing in Houston, Reflecting on his fathers passing many years ago, and most recently, his mother’s passing from COVID-19 in July, 2020, Bob and his siblings have created a stronger bond to be present to each other and the community.
Annie Perrin Grisham grew up in Alabama and currently resides in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. Annie graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Mary Washington in 2020 during the middle of the Pandemic. Annie is excited to bring her advocacy experience working for the nonprofit Appalachia Service Project and her political experience working for a Congressional Campaign and the U.S. House of Representatives to her role as an Organizing Associate with COVID Survivors for Change.
Emily Walton is the oldest of ten kids and was raised on a potato farm in southern Idaho where she was homeschooled. She made Boise her home in 2001, got her GED at 28 and went to Boise State where she earned an English degree with honors and delivered the commencement address in 2012.
Emily got her start in politics when she was elected to lobby on behalf of 20k students at Boise State and started a non-profit registering thousands of students to vote. She’s served on numerous boards including Go Lead Idaho, Boise Young Professionals, and Boise State Public Radio. In 2013, the Idaho Business Review honored her in their annual Women of the Year awards and in 2014 she was awarded Young Professional of the Year by Boise Young Professionals.
Emily has over 10 years of grassroots and direct lobbying experience in state and local governments, including passing and stopping hundreds of bills in over 20 states. She has organized coalitions and led business leaders, elected officials and individuals to oppose or support legislation.
In 2020 she co-founded the Idaho 97% project to fight extremism in Idaho politics. In May, 2022, she graduated from the executive MBA program at Boise State University.
Rahul Tiwari is the Head of Product, Data Platform and Analytics at CREF with over 15 years of experience in building and deploying digital, data and AI products, services, and solutions in diverse industries. He has expertise in Digital Transformation, Robotic Process Automation, Product Strategy, Advanced Analytics, Data Governance and User Experience to grow existing business and create new revenue opportunities leveraging cross-functional experiences in sales, business development, operations, and finance. Before joining CREF, Rahul held several leadership roles at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cardinal Health, and KPMG. In these roles, he helped organically grow the Data Science & Advanced Analytics capabilities by providing vision, strategy development, championing execution and adoption of emerging technologies.
Rahul lives in Virginia with his wife, son, and their dog. One of his passions is to mentor young professionals by providing coaching and help advance their careers. He was recently involved in a Data Science for All Empowerment Program to mentor Black, Latino, LGBTQ+ & Veterans. Rahul received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from University of Mumbai and his master’s degree in engineering management from University of Southern California.
Yashashvi Mukesh, who is Chair of Philanthropy, is a social impact professional from India. Over the years, he has worked on the grassroots implementation of programs focused on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Skill Development, Education, and Community health. In 2018, he stablished an impact catalyst organization, working with national-international organizations, corporate foundations, think tanks, UN bodies, and government agencies to provide program design, research, and assessments services.
Currently, Yashashvi works as the Global Head of Partnerships with a USA-based sustainability-tech company. He serves on the board of multiple organizations alongside advising a few high-impact social organizations working across North America, Africa, and South Asia to promote health and sustainability leadership. Yashashvi strongly believes in the value of equity and empowerment, which he propagates by working with change makers to create equitable and empowered organizations and programs.
Jenna Mandel-Ricci has spent the past two decades working in public health and healthcare, first at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and now at the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA). At GNYHA she leads initiatives that support the Association’s 160 member hospitals in two key areas—emergency preparedness and response, and the development and implementation of healthcare workforce health and wellbeing programs. Jenna was very involved in the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting member hospitals with a host of issues, and interfacing with the many City, state and local response agencies and political leaders with which they needed to coordinate. It is this first-hand experience that fuels her commitment to the work of COVID Survivors for Change.
She has recently been asked to be the Chief of Staff for NYC Health Commissioner, Dr Ashwin Vatan, MD, PhD.
Jenna holds an MPH from Hunter College, an MPA from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and a BA from Northwestern University. She is a proud resident of Brooklyn where she lives with her husband and two children.
Paul Bailo, PhD, MBA, MS, MSW, who is Board Chair, has garnered deep career success in multiple fields, along with an outstanding industry reputation. He has built and led top performing teams, start-up entities and world-class organizations. In his present position as Chief Digital Strategy, Innovation & Emerging Payments – Paul provides clients with actionable business intelligence, optimization of interactive online experiences and comprehensive platforms that dramatically enhance market position, profitability and productivity.
Paul holds a PhD in International Leadership & Innovation and a dissertation on Gen X/Y in the Digital World through the International School of Management. Earlier he completed degrees in diverse topics: MBA in Marketing and Technology at Wagner College, MSW in Clinical Research (Human Behavior) at Fordham University and BS in Finance & Technology at St. John’s University. He is also an Adjunct Executive Graduate Professor in Applied Analytics at Columbia University.
In recognition of his diverse market knowledge, Paul has frequently been the keynote speaker at Yale University School of Management, Google and CMO 100 ; he was a Product Fair Winner at the Cambridge University – International Marketing/Technology competition. Paul is a published author with two industry books, as well as many original business articles and presentations. He has been featured in WSJ, Time, Forbes, Fortune, CNN, Money, CNBC, Business Insider and Bloomberg. He served as an Executive Advisor to the Governments of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria and Drexel University.
Aura Reinhard, JD, who is Vice Chair is a Managing Director at Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, a strategic and financial communications firm headquartered in New York. She provides corporate, financial and crisis counsel to companies, boards of directors and executives across a range of special situations, including crisis matters, mergers & acquisitions, public listings, reorganizations, financial restructurings, proxy contests, spin-offs and management changes. Aura works with a number of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies making significant contributions to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, including those that have been the among the first to bring COVID vaccines and oral antiviral therapies to market, as well as companies manufacturing generic therapies to facilitate affordable access to more people around the world.
Prior to joining Joele Frank in 2015, Aura served as a Vice President in investment banking at RBC Capital Markets. She holds a JD from the UCLA School of Law and a BA in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Eleanor Brown, JD, who is Chair of Governance is a professor of law at Penn State Law, a professor of International Affairs in the School of International Affairs (SIA) and a senior scientist in the Rock Ethics Institute of the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to becoming an academic, she was an Executive Vice President at Caribbean Basin Investors Limited, the General Partner of the Caribbean Investment Fund, L.P., the first pan-Caribbean private equity fund. She has served on the boards of several publicly traded Caribbean companies and was the youngest director of two subsidiaries of the Bank of Nova Scotia (Jamaica), one of the largest subsidiaries of the largest Canadian bank (by market capitalization).
Prior to joining the faculty of Penn State, Brown was a professor of law at the George Washington University Law School. She has previously been a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, a GWIPP Fellow at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, and a Reginald Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School. She is a member of the board of directors of the Association for Law, Property and Society, the Conference Planning Committee for the Immigration Law Professors Association, and the Fellowship Committee for the Association of University Women. She has also served on the Scholarly Prize Committee for the Law and Society Association.
Lisa Pizarro-Yob is an Entrepreneurial CTO offering progressive experience in Operations Leadership. She is active in the Tampa Bay Community spearheading many charitable initiatives & events, including The Tampa General Hospital Women’s Leadership Council, YMCA, Kids Charity of Tampa Bay, A Kid’s Place, Metropolitan Ministries, Covid Survivors for Change, Tampa General Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit & the Grammy Music Revolution Project.
After attending St. Andrews University and University of South Florida for a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration And Management, Lisa became the Chief Operating Officer of CRS, Inc. In 2012 Lisa & Jon Yob founded The Yob Family Foundation, a child advocacy charity group that supported many causes within the Tampa Bay Community. In addition, she took on a new enterprising role with JAY Management Corporation, a boutique asset management company that specializes in the management of principally owned assets including financial instruments, varied real estate assets, as well as high growth businesses.
Find healing in support groups with other Covid-19 survivors. Read up on public resources available to you.
Together, we share our stories in hopes that others can learn from them, and that our fellow survivors can find healing in knowing that they are not alone.
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