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Spelman College Faculty Stories

Faculty Stories

Spelman Environmental Leader Receives Catalyst Award

December 2021

Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Ph.D., C'95, assistant professor in the environmental and health sciences program at Spelman College, is one of six recipients of the third annual Catalyst Award granted by the nonprofit organization Rachel's Network. The award honors women leaders of color for their commitment to a healthy planet, and provides them with a cash prize, networking opportunities, and national recognition for their work.  As an honoree, she will receive a $10,000 prize; networking opportunities; and public recognition within the environment, philanthropic, and women’s leadership communities.

“We have been honored to get know women at the forefront of the environmental movement through the Catalyst Award,” said Rachel’s Network President Fern Shepard. “This year’s awardees and finalists demonstrate that women of color are catalyzing change across our field, from environmental justice and energy equity to marine science and health. Their leadership is transforming our world for the better.”

Evironmental Sciences Faculty Na'Taki Osborne Jelks

Dr. Jelks is a nationally-recognized leader in engaging urban communities and youth of color in environmental stewardship through hands-on watershed and land restoration initiatives, environmental education and training. Co-founder of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a community-based environmental justice organization that works to grow a healthier and more sustainable West Atlanta, the Spelman alumna is also an Interdisciplinary Research Leader Fellow. She and her cohorts are supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and equipped to "use the power ofapplied research — informing and supporting critical work being done in communities — to accelerate that work and advance health and equity. 

Rachel’s Network, named in honor of Rachel Carson, is a community of women at the intersection of environment, philanthropy, and women’s leadership who exchange ideas and take action on our planet’s urgent challenges. Since 2000, the network has collectively granted roughly $2 million to organizations and programs that secure a thriving planet for future generations and women leaders at the frontlines of our movement.

Follow Dr. Jelks the @urbanecologist on Twitter.