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Healthcare Summit

Spelman College Healthcare Summit Speakers

Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, C’95, Ph.D., MPH

NaTaki Jelks
Moderator: Oral Healthcare Disparities in the Black Community

Na’Taki Osborne Jelks is an assistant professor in environmental and health sciences at Spelman College in Atlanta.  

As an environmental health scientist, Jelks investigates urban environmental health disparities; the role that place, race, and other social factors play in influencing health; cumulative risk assessment; and the connection between urban watersheds, pollution, the built environment and health. She also develops, implements, and evaluates community-based initiatives that empower low-income and communities of color to reduce exposure to environmental health hazards and improve health and quality of life. Jelks is particularly interested in approaches that engage vulnerable communities in citizen science activities to monitor local environmental conditions, reduce existence of and exposure to environmental hazards, and develop effective community-based interventions that revitalize toxic, degraded spaces into healthy places.

Jelks studied chemistry and civil and environmental engineering at Spelman College and the Georgia Institute of Technology respectively before earning a master of environmental and occupational health degree at Emory University and a Ph.D. in environmental public health at Georgia State University.

Jelks co-founded the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a community-based environmental justice organization that works to grow a cleaner, greener, healthier, more sustainable West Atlanta through authentic community engagement, organizing, education, community science and research.

She was recently appointed to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, a federal advisory committee that works to integrate environmental justice into the Environmental Protection Agency’s programs, policies and activities as well as to improve the environment or public health in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms and risks.  

Before taking on her current role at Spelman College, Jelks spent two years as a visiting assistant professor of environmental health in the Department of Public Health at Agnes Scott College, served as founding director of Agnes Scott’s graduate certificate program in Evaluation and Assessment Methods, and taught in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine.