Academics: Faculty

Na'Taki Osborne Jelks

An instructor at Spelman College, Na’Taki Osborne also is the manager for Community and Leadership Development Programs for the National Wildlife Federation and chair of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, an organization committed to ensuring environmental justice in southwest and northwest Atlanta’s African-American neighborhoods. An environmental engineer by training, Na’Taki is committed to being a social change engineer.

When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer after living in proximity to polluting industries in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” corridor, Na’Taki was motivated to work to ensure that all people, regardless of race and income, have access to healthy and safe living and working conditions and equal protection under environmental laws. With more than 12 years of experience helping people in environmentally degraded communities find their voice and develop the necessary skills to speak and act out against polluters who impair and threaten their quality of life, she has helped to change the landscape of her African-American community on Atlanta’s west side, which is impacted by numerous hazards including landfills, incinerators, illegal dumps, wastewater treatment plants, and sewer overflow facilities, but is least represented at environmental decision-making tables.

In addition to her role at NWF, Na’Taki is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program, and is co-founder of the Center for Environmental Public Awareness, a public interest, nonprofit consulting organization that develops environmental education and leadership development training for community groups working to achieve environmental justice nationwide as well as diversity training and coaching for environmental non-profit organizations.

An alumna of Spelman College, Na’Taki studied civil and environmental engineering at Georgia Tech through a dual-degree program and earned her master's of public health in environmental and occupational health from Emory University. She is Atlanta’s 2011 Cox Conserves Hero.

For her work to improve environmental quality and quality of life in Atlanta, Na’Taki has received a Humanitarian Award from the Georgia Department of Labor, a President’s Service Award from Former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, and recognition from Redbook, Uptown, and Ebony magazines. She is currently working on her first book on the contributions of women of color to the Environmental Justice Movement.