40 Under 40 2018 | Nicole Cooper

Over the past decade, Nicole Cooper has used her formidable communications skills to ensure the U.S. health system better serves vulnerable communities.

Cooper was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a policy adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, where she worked for key leaders at the agency and held a number of responsibilities across the agency. She served as the federal Office of Minority Health’s policy lead for women’s health and for former first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! childhood obesity initiative.

Tasked with increasing the stability of healthcare.gov’s system and building improvements to the user interface, Cooper improved operations. She also coordinated racial and ethnic minority news and media relations among HHS departmentwide communications.

Now senior director of mission distinction and corporate social responsibility at UnitedHealthcare, Cooper continues to drive change in U.S. healthcare, working to build awareness of new approaches to address healthcare access through communications and social investment strategies among key stakeholders. 

Cooper leads national signature partnerships and local social investment strategies among safety net providers and community-based organizations. She works with local and national UHC communications teams and health plan leaders to make these programs successful and develop new ways to measure the organization’s social impact.

Outside of her work at UnitedHealthcare, Cooper is an active leader in a number of healthcare-related groups and programs. Her leadership in these organizations allows her to continue fulfilling her passion for improving health care in vulnerable communities.

- An Obama administration political appointee, Cooper was part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services team responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington, DC.

- She received the Outstanding Employee award at the Department of Health and Human Services.

- Cooper sits on the public policy committee at the National Association of Health Services Executives, a nonprofit association of black healthcare executives to promote advancement and development of black healthcare leaders.

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