Meet the Co-Founders

Kevin and Naya

Left: Dr. Naya Jones, Right: Dr. Kevin Thomas | Photo: John Anderson in The Austin Chronicle

We’re life partners who create, build, and work together. Our personal journeys with food inspire Food for Black Thought. Here’s more about our backgrounds and what we bring to FFBT.

Kevin Thomas, PhD | Research Director 

Kevin is a educator, analyst, and activist scholar. He coordinates and co-organizes FFBT action research initiatives. You can also find him co-teaching FFBT workshops. FFBT complements Kevin’s commitments as an Assistant Professor of Marketing and Public Relations at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to becoming a professor, Kevin spent 10 years in the food industry as a market researcher and co-owned a small youth-oriented business with his older brother.

Disillusioned by the level of change possible in the corporate world, Kevin shifted his focus to community-engaged scholarship. His research critically examines the relationship between marketing, consumption practices, and notions of self and community in Black populations.

Kevin is also co-founder of the Black Media Council, a community organization based in Austin, Texas that promotes Black liberation through the power of the media arts. He is a co-organizer for the Race in the Marketplace Network (RIM).


Naya Armendarez Jones, PhD | Managing Director 

Ecstatic facilitator, food justice educator, and ceremony keeper. In addition to fostering partnerships between FFBT and aligned organizations, Naya co-designs FFBT curricula and co-facilitates workshops.

In related research, Naya focuses on community food and healing networks in the Black Diaspora. This has looked like fieldwork in Mexico about Afromexican gardens; interviews with Black women about their sustainable food practices; and more recently, participatory research with African-American and Afro-Latinx youth about food and gentrification.

Naya holds a PhD in Geography and the Environment from the University of Texas Austin. She’s also trained in holistic wellness. A long-time meditation facilitator of 9 years, you can find her supporting revolutionary self-care as founder of RootWork. Naya brings the work together at www.nayajones.com.