Bakeyah Nelson, Ph.D.

– Founder, Community Health Collaborative Consulting

Bakeyah S. Nelson, PhD, has a diverse background in public health and environmental justice advocacy and has been working to reduce environmental inequities where people live, work, learn, and play in Houston communities since 2009.  She has written a variety of publications and presented about community conditions, environmental (in)justice, health (in)equity, and the need to accelerate efforts to improve community health for people of color and other marginalized communities.

Dr. Nelson is the founder of Community Health Collaborative Consulting, LLC.  She previously served as the Global Initiative Director for Climate Imperative Foundation, as Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston and in Harris County Public Health’s Office of Policy and Planning, where she led health equity initiatives.  Post Hurricane Harvey, she co-founded the Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience (CEER)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.

Dr. Nelson serves on a number of advisory boards and committees aimed at advancing environmental justice and health equity.  She serves on the Advisory Board for the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, the Board of the Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation, the Board of the National Recreation Foundation, and the Advisory Committee for the Environmental Integrity Project’s Center for Applied Environmental Science. She was a founding member of the New Giving Collective, a giving circle established in 2017 to serve as a vehicle to support and respond to the needs of Black communities.

Dr. Nelson was named 2020 Clean Air Champion of the Year by the Texas Energy Summit.  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 was honored as one of the Texas Organizing Project’s 2018 Community Champions.

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’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.  She is a Contributing Faculty Member at Baylor University in the Department of Public Health.


Nelson, B.  (February 2020).  Making Houston History Today: 6 Black Changemakers You Should  Know (interview). Understanding Houston. Greater Houston Community Foundation.

Nelson, B. (October 2019).  Chemical Fires, Explosions Too Common in Houston.  Houston  Chronicle.

Nelson, B. (June 2019). Accelerating the drive toward a paradigm shift in Houston’s transportation planning.Kinder Institute for Urban Research.  

Nelson, B. (March 2019).  Lunch Plenary Speaker: Local Health after Hurricane Harvey.  2019 Sharing Knowledge to Build a Culture of Health Conference.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Woodlands, Texas.

Nelson, B. (March 2019).  Panelist: Climate Change and Public Policy Panel.  Toward a Better Future: Transforming the Climate Crisis.  Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas.

Nelson, B. (February 2019).  Four Environmental Justice Champions You Should Know (interview).  National Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C.

Nelson, B. (February 2019).  Invited Testimony before the US House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Committee, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.  Hearing on EPA’s Troubling Enforcement Record. Washington, D.C.

Nelson, B. (February 2019).  Plenary Speaker: Setting the Stage – From Transportation Emission to Health Effects.  Texas A&M Transportation Institute.  Transportation, Air Quality, and Health Symposium, Austin, Texas.

Nelson, B. (September 2018).  Houston Has Fallen Behind on Fighting Air Pollution.  Houston Chronicle.

Nelson, B. (April 2018). Will the I-45 Expansion Make Our Air Worse? Houston Chronicle.

Nelson, B. (March 2018). Shouldn’t Industry Pay More to Protect Us from Environmental Disasters?  Houston Chronicle.

Nelson, B. and Powis, J. (March 2018). Toxic Chemicals and Floodwaters Create a Deadly Mix Post-Harvey.  Houston Chronicle.

Nelson, B. (January 2018). Why Uninformed Growth After Harvey Puts Us All At-Risk.  Houston Chronicle.

Nelson, B. (December 2017). Why Your Health Can Depend on Where You Live.  Houston Chronicle.

Nelson, B. (November 2017). Hurricane Harvey Reveals Inequities in Houston. New York Times.

Nelson, B. (August 2017). Bringing a Breath of Fresh Air to Houston. Houston Chronicle (interview).

Nelson, B. (February 2017).  Do No Harm: A Message to Dr. Carson about Housing and Health. Cite Magazine.

Nelson, B. and Banks, K. (2016). “Super-sized strategies for improved health: exploring the evidence of reducing the density of fast food restaurants on public health.” Christopher Bosso, ed. 2016. Feeding Cities: Improving Local Food Access, Sustainability, and Resilience. London: Routledge.

Nelson, B., Banks, K. & Carleton, G. (2015). Redesigning curbs to curb childhood obesity: assessing the built environment in low-income neighborhoods in Houston, TX. American Public Health Association, Chicago, IL, November 2015.

Nelson, B. and Banks, K. (2015).  Super-sized strategies for improved health: exploring the evidence of reducing the density of fast food restaurants on public health. Workshop on Feeding Cities: Ethical and Policy Issues in Urban Food Systems, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, March 2015.

Nelson, B. (2014).  Why Walk Houston.  Rice Design Alliance Civic Forum.

Mather, T., Porter, K., Mohamed, A., Nelson, B. & Moroni, C. (2014). Healthy communities. American Planning Association Texas Chapter, State Planning Conference, Frisco, TX, October 2014.

Havenstrite, J., Witter-Hempel, C., Carleton G, & Nelson, B (2014). Healthy living outcomes of three active transportation strategies. American Planning Association Texas Chapter, State Planning Conference, Frisco, TX, October 2014.

Nelson, B. and Rehman, H. (2014). Integrating social, public health and built environment data to support healthy public policy. Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Annual Conference, Nashville, TN, June 2014.

Nelson, B. et al. (2014). National mentorship program in applied chronic disease epidemiology. CSTE Annual Conference, Nashville, TN, June 2014.

Havenstrite, J., Witter-Hempel, C., Carleton G, & Nelson, B (2014). Gett’n it done: three implementation strategies and one huge benefit. Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference, Fort Worth, TX, March 2014.

Nachman, R., Cuevas, A., Canvasser, J. Nelson, B., & Schwingl, P. (2012).  Advocating for reproductive health protection through chemical regulation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) . American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Conference. November 2012. Abstract accepted.

Nelson, B. and King, D. (2012).  Pursuing environmental equity: dialogue-based community mobilization. Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved and Health Equity, June 2012. Abstract accepted.

Hafidh, S. and Nelson, B. (2012).  Partnering with community members to address access to healthy food challenges and promote healthy eating. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Annual Public Health Prevention Specialist Training, June 2012. Abstract accepted.

Nelson, B., King, D., et al. (2012).  Seeking environmental justice through dialogue: the story of Galena Park, Texas. The State of Environmental Justice in America Conference 2012, Arlington, VA, April 2012.

Nelson, B. (2007).  Disparities in access to home and community-based services for people living with HIV/AIDS: An analysis of states adoption of the Medicaid 1915(c) waiver for people living with HIV/AIDS. Academy Health Annual Research Meeting, Washington, D.C., June 2007.

Nelson, B., Jawhar, C., & Albright, J. (2003).  Initial findings of Magellan’s intensive case management program. Society for Applied Sociology, Metairie, LA, October 2003.