Meet Jaontra “JJ” Henderson, Project Analyst!

Pictured: JJ with Cassian, son of PTBi designer, Loren Newman.

JJ is a native of Oakland. She attended Saint Mary's College of California where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. 

Before PTBi

I started at PTBi in January 2019. Before then, I was unemployed for a couple of months and took my mom to Egypt. But the job I held prior was the Data Coordinator and a Group Facilitator at San Francisco Black Infant Health (BIH). I really just wanted to continue working in the reproductive health space. When I was at BIH, I heard a lot about PTBi and all the amazing work coming out of there, so I wanted to hop in and get involved.

My role at PTBi

I am a Project Analyst at PTBi, which means a lot of things. I do a lot of admin and operations across the whole initiative making sure folks are able to pay the vendors and our community advisory board members, making sure that we are working within UCSF policy guidelines and lots of other behind-the-scenes stuff. More specifically, I support community engagement, fellowship and operations teams.

JJ on a camel in EgyptPictured: JJ on a camel in Egypt

Pictured: JJ with her grandma

What I’ve learned 

It’s hard to put into words. One of the biggest things is not to compartmentalize things — working across so many parts of the initiative and seeing exactly what community engagement means or what it takes to run a study like SOLARS that is focused on Black and Brown people in Oakland. And then really taking what I learn in each of those spaces and bringing them into the next one I enter, rather than being like ‘Oh, so that’s how we do community engagement and I will just keep that there.’ and ‘This is what it means to do research. I will keep that information there.’ So I’ve learned how to synthesize those intersections and find what our strengths and weaknesses are. Identifying what our team needs in order to operate in a productive way. Really learning about anti-Blackness and white supremacy culture even in my own role as an admin/operations person and combatting those oppressive forces in the work that I do.

My favorite part of the initiative

Community engagement, hands down! I love our CAB members; they are a really fun group. It’s just been hard to pivot and do things remotely because it is so focused on building relationships, a lot of which develops during in-between times or after meetings where people are chitchatting and eating and you see people’s babies. Even outside of the CAB, they are amazing folks — one has a twerkshop. Getting to see them outside of their role as CAB members is really special to me too. They keep it real. They hold it down.