History Makers: Na’Taki Osbourne Jelks, PhD, MPH
At CTEH, we are committed to helping safeguard people, communities, and the environment—much like Na’Taki Osbourne Jelks, PhD, MPH, our final Black History Month spotlight. An environmental scientist, activist, and professor, Jelks is focused on inspiring youth to pursue their passions in the STEM field.
A graduate of Spelman College, Jelks holds a Master of Public Health from Emory University and PhD from Georgia State University School of Public Health. Her dedication to protecting the planet led her to co-found Earth Tomorrow Atlanta, an environmental education and development program sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation for high school students. With her help, the program has reached more than 2,500 urban youth, with many graduates going on to obtain internships or employment in STEM-related fields.
A widely recognized environmental activist, the White House named Jelks a “Champion of Change” in 2014. Four years later, she became a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. Today, she serves as chair of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a community-based organization she helped found to engage local youth and families in environmental education, service learning, and physical activity. She is also co-chair of the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council and board member for the Citizen Science Association.
As we’ve learned throughout Black History Month, progress in the STEM field is achievable. But we must remain committed to tackling barriers or challenges that could limit future generations. Thank you to dedicated individuals like “Kizzy” Corbett, PhD; Mae C. Jemison, MD; Lisa P. Jackson; and Jelks for leading the way.