Episode #198 Faith Based Health Promotion Opportunities, with Tonya Nash, MPH
When there is no clear path, make your own. Our guest on this episode had been faced with what could be considered challenges, but which she instead chose to see as opportunities. Tonya Nash is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities. Her interest in this particular specialization within public health arose when her two sons were diagnosed with autism, and one with epilepsy. It didn’t take long for her to realize that there is a lack of understanding within many faith-based institutions around how to include people with health issues of this type. Through the two organizations she founded, Autism Faith Network and Spectrum Public Health Strategies, her goal is to change this, and we are so on board with her mission!
Tonya Nash is a certified health education specialist, disability advocate and entrepreneur with over 18 years of experience. She received a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a certificate of Digital Health Communication from Tufts University. Tonya also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a minor in Social Work from Fayetteville State University.
Over the course of her career, Tonya has worked at nonprofit organizations, private sector businesses, a district health department, military bases and more. In these roles, she served a variety of populations, such as the poor and underserved, military families, senior citizens, the disability community and those with chronic health conditions.
Tonya’s passion for faith-based health promotion led to the formation of the award-winning, Autism Faith Network, which promotes autism awareness in faith-based communities. The nonprofit organization has served over 30 churches since 2016 and educates thousands of persons about autism at their place of worship.
In 2020, Tonya started Spectrum Public Health Strategies, LLC after working as a subcontractor on several public health projects. Some of her contracts include working as a Project Manager and Public Health Consultant on projects related to COVID-19, suicide and opioid overdose prevention, asthma and more.
A commitment to the field of public health is clearly shown through Tonya’s memberships with several public health organizations. She has been a member of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) since 2014 and served as the Communications Committee Chair from 2017 – 2019. She joined the American Public Health Association (APHA) in 2016 and served as the Social Media Content Manager for the Community Health Planning and Policy Development section from 2018 – 2019. She continues to be an active member in both organizations, along with the Society for Health Communication.
Tonya is passionate about advocating for underserved communities and communicating health information in a way that people from all backgrounds can understand. She has participated in numerous podcasts, speaking engagements, webinars and panels to educate, advocate and inspire audiences from diverse backgrounds.
Key Takeaways From This Episode
An overview of Tonya’s educational and professional background.
When Tonya’s interest in the public health sector began, and who encouraged her to head in that direction.
Personal circumstances that motivated Tonya to found her own organizations.
Ways that Tonya’s focus in the public health realm has changed over the years.
Work that is being done by Tonya’s company, Spectrum Public Health Strategies.
Changes that Tonya hopes to see in faith-based institutions with regard to dealing with those who have health conditions.
The importance of networking, and some advice about how to connect in a way that makes an impact.
Opportunities in the public health sector that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t be afraid of entrepreneurship; if you’re not finding opportunities, make them for yourself.
Listen To The Podcast Episode
Tonya's Career Advice to Public Health Students
1) Don't wait until your senior year to start networking.
2) Be active and volunteer in areas that you think you might be interested in.
3) Look at current trends to forecast where a need may be in public health.
4) Be flexible.
5) Try to get experience before graduation
Tonya's Career Advice to Graduates and Professionals
2) Join public health organizations
3) Be willing to think outside of the box (entrepreneurship)
Connect with Tonya
Links Mentioned in This Episode
Work with Dr. Huntley