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August 4, 2015

New Operations Manager joins PHII

A devoted volunteer and passionate problem solver, Tonya Duhart, MPA, joined PHII’s team this month as Operations Manager. In her new position, Tonya will be supporting budget tracking, meeting logistics and process improvements.

Although new to PHII, Tonya is a familiar face around the Task Force for Global Health. She spent six years with TEPHINET as Senior Program Associate, where she served as a project manager and provided administrative support to the TEPHINET program. Her work included coordinating meeting and travel logistics, drafting contracts, developing grant applications and tracking expenses—all skills that she’s confident will suit her well in her new role.

Tonya found her passion for implementing policies and processes to solve problems while studying to earn her Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of Texas at Austin. After taking courses in political science with intentions to pursue law school, Tonya realized she was missing the drive for politics that her classmates shared. She started exploring cultural and sociology courses, and after her first public policy class, she was sold.

“I discovered that I didn’t just want to study policies and how they work. I wanted to be involved in implementing those policies instead of being in a courtroom. That way I’m more connected to the change that follows,” she says. She focused and developed the skills she gained in her undergraduate program to earn her Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Georgia in 2010.

Tonya has always had an interest in participating in projects that touch people across all walks of life regardless of race, grade or status, and her love for nonprofit work stemmed from her childhood. Since she was a very young girl, she and her family would always spend time volunteering and giving back to their community together. Her favorite memories are of times spent feeding the homeless and sorting books to send to children in Africa. Tonya became interested in professional work that would allow her to explore her desires to impact others’ lives, but she never thought she would land in public health. In 2008, she became an administrative assistant for the Atlanta Speech School, where she supported the admissions and clinical testing processes for children with learning disabilities. Joining TEPHINET the following year also allowed her to dive deeper into public health, becoming involved in projects that focused on training field epidemiologists.

Despite her reserved personality, Tonya is an adventure-seeker at heart. If she’s not in the office implementing processes, you can find her “doing anything I need to sign a waiver for.” She enjoys zip lining, skydiving, riding in hot air balloons and paintballing. On more calm days, it’s just her and Langston—her pet Yorkie.

Her life motto is simple: “Be kind to people and treat them how you would like to be treated. I always put myself in others’ shoes and try to live by that.”