Naya Armendarez Jones, PhD is an ecstatic facilitator, critical geographer, and spiritual activist. She helps grow radically resilient food and healing systems that are community-based and culturally-grounded. Inspired by her "roots" as a Blaxicana (African-American and Xicana), her work lifts up the food and healing practices of the Black Diaspora. Currently, Naya is bridging her passions for food justice and holistic wellness as a Culture of Health Leader (2017-2020).
As a scholar-practitioner, Naya explores issues of race/racism, place, and healing. Specifically, how do Black and other historically-oppressed populations nourish themselves? How have Black communities sustained food or healing knowledge? Naya has studied Afromexican gardening and, more recently, how Black youth experience food in their gentrifying neighborhood. Her latest arts-based project explores food-related racial trauma and healing through public ritual.
Spiritual Activism & Food Justice
Alongside research, Naya has facilitated meditation and ceremony with individuals, grassroots orgs, and university partners since 2008. As owner of a small private practice (RootWork), she centers the wellbeing of fellow Black women, LGBTQAI+ people of color, underrepresented students, and other populations with legacies of resilience and racial trauma.
In 2012, Naya launched Food for Black Thought with her partner Kevin, an initiative that promotes critical food justice through action education. Today, Naya co-manages Get Rooted Consulting LLC, a social enterprise that houses RootWork, FFBT, and consulting for social justice organizations.
In addition to keynote and local talks, Naya has been an invited speaker at conferences including the Society for Economic Ethnobotany's "African Ethnobotany in the Americas" symposium and the Grits and Greens SXSW panel.
Naya holds a PhD in Geography and the Environment and a MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She's certified in trauma-informed yoga therapy and Reiki. She continues to learn from community activists and elders on the path.