Deja Thomas

Deja Thomas


Deja is pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning as well as a Food Studies Certificate at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Prior to starting her Master’s program, she obtained her B.S. in Environmental Studies and Communication at Santa Clara University. While, attending Santa Clara she was a Global Social Benefit Fellow at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Community Development Coordinator at the Multicultural Center, and was a research assistant for several environmental justice-related projects. Deja's plans on using her education and experience to design and implement policy and programming that create functional, equitable, and sustainable food systems by specifically centering and uplifting women of color. Her work is firmly rooted in the belief that food systems can be the nexus for a paradigm shift in how we value people, land, and women of color.

During the academic year, she works at the Luskin Center for Innovation contributing to the process evaluation for the Transformative Climate Communities pilot projects, specifically working with the Watts site. The Transformative Climate Communities project is one of the most innovative, comprehensive, and equitable experiments in climate action with the Strategic Growth Council investing approximately $140 million (+ leveraged funding from philanthropy, etc.) in 3 place-based, intersectional, community-led climate initiatives that will provide a wide array of local economic, environmental, and public health benefits in historically underserved communities. She is also using the opportunity to study the contributions the food-related projects will bring to the overall goal of the TCC program. In addition to the Luskin Center, she also works at UCLA’s Labor Center gaining skills and building on previous experience in community-engaged and action-oriented research to further equitable sustainable futures for all. Through that role, she has worked on a variety of projects pertaining to student workers, the CWDB Higher Road Training Partnerships, and the LA Black Worker Center.

Fellow at a Glance

Fellowship Year:
Academic Background:
Current Position:
Masters Candidate
Architecture & Urban Planning
Environmental Justice
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Policy

A vibrant community of environmental leaders