Bakeyah S. Nelson, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Air Alliance Houston

Bakeyah S. Nelson, PhD, is the Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston – a non-profit organization that works with communities unequally burdened by air pollution to advocate for public policies that improve air quality, promote public health, and advance environmental justice. Dr. Nelson has a diverse background in public health and public policy and has been working to reduce environmental inequities where people live, work, learn, and play in Houston communities for over 10 years. She has written and presented about community conditions, environmental (in)justice, health (in)equity, and the need to accelerate efforts to improve community health, particularly among children, and communities of color and low wealth.

Dr. Nelson was honored as one of the Texas Organizing Project’s 2018 Community Champions. She is a Senior Fellow of Class XLVI of the American Leadership Forum and was selected as one of the Aspen Institute’s Health Scholars for the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival. She is the co-founder of and Steering Committee Chair for the Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience (CEER) – a diverse coalition consisting of twenty-five environmental, social justice, affordable housing, and transportation organizations advancing a common policy agenda to ensure a healthier, more resilient, and equitable future for the Houston region. She is also one of the founding members of the New Giving Collective, a giving circle established in 2017 to serve as a vehicle to support and respond to the needs of the Black community.

In 2012, she was selected for the University of California, San Francisco’s Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment Reach the Decision Makers Fellowship, which trains scientists, community members, clinicians and public health professionals to effectively promote science and health-based policies. Later in 2012, she was a recipient of the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) Model Practice Award for demonstrating exemplary leadership to advance environmental justice and public health.

Dr. Nelson has also served on a number of committees aimed at improving community and environmental health, including but not limited, to the Executive Committee of the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee and Transportation Air Quality Subcommittee, the African American Health Coalition, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Environmental Health Committee. She is also a contributing faculty member at Baylor University in the Department of Public Health.

Dr. Nelson’s doctorate in public policy, master’s in applied sociology and bachelor’s degree in psychology all come from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.