https://www.spelman.edu/images/faculty/profiles/nataki-jelks.jpg?sfvrsn=6feb6d51_0

Faculty Name

Na'Taki Osborne Jelks, Ph.D., C'95

Title

Assistant Professor

Department

Environmental & Health Sciences

Office Location

Albro-Falconer-Manley Science Center 140

Education

Ph.D., Georgia State University
M.S., Emory University
B.S., Spelman College

Biography

An associate professor at Spelman College, Na’Taki Osborne Jelks 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, Osborne Jelks 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, Osborne Jelks 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, Osborne Jelks 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, Osborne Jelks 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, Osborne Jelks 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.

News

From Red to Purple to Fuchsia: The Atlanta Science Festival is Reshaping
How the South talks STEM

This story takes a deep dive into how the Atlanta Science Festival is trying to undo the sins of the past and redefine who in the South gets to be a part of STEM.

The NYTimes: Black Women are Leaders in Climate Change
Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, a community activist and an assistant professor of environmental and health sciences at Spelman, helped to start West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, an organization in West Atlanta that has helped protect an entire community watershed from sewer overflows that affected one of the area’s oldest Black neighborhoods.