Bio (Long version)
Naya Armendarez Jones, PhD is an ecstatic facilitator, geographer, and ceremonykeeper. Through research and practice, Naya helps grow food and healing systems that are community-based and culturally-grounded. Her "roots" as a Blaxicana (African-American and Xicana) inspire her broad focus on issues of race/racism, place, and healing.
Naya's research has especially focused on the Black Diaspora food and healing practices, including research on Afromexican gardening and participatory research with African-American youth about food in their gentrifying neighborhood. Her latest research explores food-related healing and trauma through ritual.
In related work, Naya has facilitated meditation and ceremony with individuals, grassroots orgs, and university partners since 2008. As owner of a holistic private practice (RootWork), she specializes in meditative arts with/for Black women (cisgender and trans), LGBTQAI+ people of color, underrepresented students, and other populations with legacies of resilience and racial trauma. In 2012, Naya launched Food for Black Thought, an action education initiative, with her partner Kevin. She has been a speaker at local and national events.
Naya continues to learn from ancestors, activists, and elders on the path. She holds a PhD in Geography and the Environment from the University of Texas at Austin, along with a MA in Latin American Studies. She is certified in holistic healing ways, including trauma-informed yoga therapy, overcoming anxiety facilitation, and Reiki.
Currently, Naya is a Culture of Health Leader (2017-2020) and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is preparing articles and a book chapter, while learning with fellow scholar-activists. Time with nature and laughter keep her moving.