Tonya Bah is a low-income single mom and widow. Raised in North Philly she lives in Olney with her 17-year old twins, both of whom are autistic, and one of whom has intellectual and physical disabilities. Tonya became an education activist while fighting for their rights in the Philadelphia Public Schools. She now fights for all of Philly’s children, not just her own. She has tirelessly advocated at the State and City level to provide fair funding and basic resources, abolish the School Reform Commission, and pass legislation allowing students to opt out of standardized testing.
Tonya is a graduate of Simon Gratz High School and received a full athletic scholarship to Temple University including tuition, room, board, and books. After just one year she felt compelled to drop out in order to work and earn money for her family. A hotel worker for over a decade, Tonya went on to teach hospitality job training skills at OIC Philadelphia. Tonya knows the challenges of a reduced paycheck due to hours cut and the instability of ever changing schedules. She advocated for changes by testifying at public hearings on fair work legislation, fought for $15 per hour minimum wage, and walking picket lines and organizing in support of unions.
A vocal activist, Tonya puts her beliefs into action. She is a member of the Caucus of Working Educators, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, and Opt Out Philly. She is Home and School President for Widener Memorial School and SAC Facilitator for Wagner Middle School. As a stalwart organizer for progressive change, Tonya is a Steering Committee Member of Philly Neighborhood Networks, and a member of Win the City and IMPACT. She is an active member of the 35th District Town Watch and the Broad and Olney Business and Community Association.