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Meet the Co-Leads and Leadership Council of the Michigan Nursing Action Coalition


The Michigan Nursing Action Coalition is a team of both nurses and non-nurses dedicated to taking action to improve health and healthcare in the state of Michigan through nursing.  The Michigan Nursing Action Coalition is convened to advance the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AARP Foundation.  It is co-lead by Michigan Health Council and Michigan Primary Care Association.


Melanie Brim, MHA

President & CEO, Michigan Health Council

Melanie Brim currently serves as the President and CEO of the Michigan Health Council. She previously served as the Senior Deputy Director of the Public Health Administration/State Health Officer at the Michigan Department of Community Health. Melanie has worked in a variety of health care settings including acute care, long term care, community health care, mental health care and physician practice management. She also provided executive leadership for a federal planning grant to accelerate the transformation of health care delivery and payment systems in Michigan.


Debbie Edokpolo, MSW

Director of Health Equity and Social Justice, Michigan Primary Care Association

Debbie Edokpolo, MSW, is the Director of Health Equity and Social Justice for the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA). She directs efforts to foster diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures within MPCA and its member organizations. This involves aligning policies, practices, and procedures to advance the organization’s strategic objective in eliminating health disparities. Prior to joining MPCA, Ms. Edokpolo was the Deputy Health Officer at the Ingham County Health Department. During her 32 years of public service, Ms. Edokpolo coached and mentored emerging leaders in areas of health equity/social justice and co-developing programming that centered racial equity. She played an instrumental role in developing Ingham County Health Department’s nationally recognized Health Equity and Social Justice Program.  Other honors and distinguished appointments include being a recipient of the Jean Chabut Health Policy Champion Award; a Health Equity Awakened Leadership Institute Fellow; and Gubernatorial Appointee to the Michigan Board of Nursing in the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Ms. Edokpolo earned her master’s degree in social work from Michigan State University. 


The Leadership Council consists of the following members.


Heather Beaman, MSN

Heather is a Von Voigtlander Birth Center registered nurse at Michigan Medicine. 


Ericka Brunson-Gillespie DNP, RN, AGACNP-BC

Ericka is a Nurse Practitioner in the Neurosurgery department at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, Michigan.




Dr. Coke is the Acting Dean of the Kirkhof College of Nursing at Grand Valley State University.  As Associate Dean for Practice and oversight of the Wesorick Center, Dr. Coke is responsible for creating and nurturing academic practice partnerships and exploring new health care transformation initiatives.  Her research area of interest and advanced practice expertise is in cardiovascular care, quality of life and risk factor assessment and behavior change.  She is an expert in Motivational Interviewing and conducts workshops nationally and internationally.

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Nancy Combs


Nancy founded Nancy Combs Communications, LLC, in 2020 as the next chapter in a four-decade career as a communicator, including 24 years at Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System. She works from a framework of collaboration to advance equity and well-being in the lives of individuals, organizations and communities. An accomplished writer, editor and strategist, Nancy also is a skilled convener of community and faith-based partnerships. She has a track record of effectiveness in the fields of health equity, unconscious bias, health literacy, cultural competency and faith-health initiatives.


Eleni Danford, BSN, RN


Eleni is a registered nurse in Lansing, Michigan and currently serves as a Patient Care Manager of a cardiac step down/telemetry unit. She has experience in trauma, orthopedic, and emergency nursing. Eleni is currently pursuing her MSN in leadership at Chamberlain University. 


Jaimee Gerrie, MSN, BSN, RN, LNC, CPPS


Jaimee is the Principal Agent of UPvision Consulting, LLC providing comprehensive legal nurse services, including alternative dispute resolution, for medically related cases. Jaimee also serves as a full time Assistant Professor of Nursing for Lake Superior State University. Jaimee earned her MSN with an emphasis in Nursing Management and Leadership from Walden University and a Certificate in Legal Nurse Consulting from Brighton College. She currently maintains national certification as a professional in patient safety.


Jonnie Hamilton DNP, PNP-BC, NE-BC


Jonnie works as the manager for Ascension St John Community Health School Based Health Centers.  She is the Vice President of the Detroit Black Nurses Association and National First Vice President of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Incorporated.



Karen Kafantaris, Associate State Director, AARP Michigan


Karen leads the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities program, working with community leaders across the state to create communities that are great places to grow up and grow old.


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Larissa Miller, PhD, RN, MSN, CNE, CNS, ANCC AP-PD


Larissa is the Associate Executive Director of Government Affairs and Nursing Practice, Education & Research for the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA). Larissa has 20+ years in varying acute care clinical nursing, clinical education and management positions. Larissa taught in higher education programs for 18 years and became a state and national presenter on healthcare simulation curriculum design and implementation. She completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in nursing at Michigan State University, and is credentialed as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) with the National League for Nursing. Larissa is the Accredited Provider Program Director for MNA’s continuing education program and is a subject matter expert with the Association of Nursing Professional Development.  Larissa completed her PhD in organizational & educational leadership with research comparing compassion fatigue in clinical nurses and nurse faculty.  

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