MEET OUR BOARD
Christina Jackson, PhD is a member of LandHealth's board and is a resident of Cobbs Creek. She is an urban sociologist and scholar-activist with interests in the relationships between poor/middle class neighborhoods of color, their environments and city entities/institutions. She takes a social justice approach by centering the stories and lives of residents through immersing herself within community struggles. Christina is a professor of Sociology at Stockton University in New Jersey. Christina graduated from Temple University, received her PhD from University of California Santa Barbara and completed her postdoctoral studies in Africana Studies. She is also on the board of Camp Sojourner Girls Leadership program.
Joshua has worked on religious response to the attacks of September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, studying the formation of disaster expertise (“disaster religious and spiritual care”) in what he calls the current “New Age of Anxiety.” He has worked with Nunatsiavut Inuit communities in northern Labrador on inequality, dispossession, community wellbeing, migration and identity in the context of recent land claim settlements and large-scale resource extraction. He has also conducted research in the Northwest Territories on migration, housing and homelessness. Joshua's focus on action research, collaborative research methods, and community-engaged research has lead him to work with a number of Philadelphia-area community and environmental organizations, including a partnership with the US Forest Service Philadelphia Field Station to develop youth-driven environmental studies curricula. His work on anthropology of mental health has focused on the production of knowledge in the context of disaster, intersections of spirituality/religion and mental health, and community response to disaster, environmental ruptures, and inequality. He is committed to combining research and teaching. He piloted a field school with students from Haverford College, University of Massachusetts and Inupiaq Alaskan youth in Northwest Alaska. Through the Philadelphia Area Creative Collaboratives, a program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in collaboration with the North Philly Peace Park, Friends of Mt. Moriah Cemetary, East Park Revitalization Alliance, and Philadelphia artist Li Sumpter, he developed the Urban Ecology Arts Exchange. Joshua also focuses on the response of educational institutions to climate change, and the ways we are (or are not) preparing students for futures that society itself struggles to imagine.
Tonya was born on November 28, 1965, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to working-class parents of African American and Italian descent, Theresa and Eugene Avella. Much of the rationale behind her activism stems from being the proud Widow of an Educator born and trained in The Gambia, West Africa who later studied and worked in the States as a controller in the hospitality industry. Together they have 18-year-old twins that attend Philadelphia Public Schools and Community College. Tonya graduated from Simon Gratz High School earning a full athletic Track Scholarship which she used to study Psychology for a brief period at Temple University. Working 20 plus years in the hospitality industry, Tonya later taught adults seeking professional development in the Front Office curriculum at the Late great Reverend Leon Sullivan’s OIC.
Prior to teaching in Philadelphia, Tonya worked and lived in DC and Prince George's County, while becoming employed by the United States Senate as first an Office Manager, and then Consultant for the Senate Republican Conference. She has been the COO for Euclid Mortgage Services in D.C. and later a Database administrator for the office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties under the department of Homeland Security. She later moved to Douglasville, Georgia before losing her husband and returning to the Philadelphia area where she became an Instructor for the Lodging and Hospitality Industry.
Tonya passionately aligns with organizations fighting for social, economic, and racial justice for all and fervently ties economic stability, mental health, and education together in conversations that fail to publicly address this reality. She partners with activists and groups that work to dismantle policies that push indentured servitude using privatization. As a leader of Opt Out Philly, Tonya continues to educate parents, community, and college students of the connection to state standardized testing, gerrymandering, gentrification, mental and emotional trauma, and surviving city life in a capitalist, poverty promoting, environment.
Having two children from the Special Needs community, she is a particularly forceful advocate for their needs. Tonya received the
Unsung Hero Award in 2016 from the Johnson House She is the Vice-Chair of Concerned Citizens for Change, a Steering Committee member and Education Committee Chair of Philly
Neighborhood Networks and a stalwart organizer for progressive policies through Win the City, IMPACT, as well as Opt Out Philly, Philadelphia Climate Works, (PCW) Alliance for Philadelphia
Public Schools (APPS). Reflective of her special commitment to fair and equal educational policies, she is also Home and School President for Widener Memorial School, SAC Facilitator
for Wagner Middle School, and member of the Caucus of Working Educators. Tonya is also an active citizen in her neighborhood, participating as a member of both the 35th
District Town Watch and the Broad and Olney Business and Community Association.