Skip to main content

Porch & Parish

Tonja Myles: From Despair to Advocacy, A Beacon of Hope for Zachary and Beyond

Feb 23, 2024 05:27PM ● By Lauren Pope

In Zachary, Tonja Myles needs no introduction.  She has dedicated her life to the service of others through advocacy in mental health, substance abuse recovery, and support for marginalized communities including veterans and the homeless. Her journey, marked by personal battles and profound transformations, has positioned her as a pivotal figure in the fight against stigma associated with mental health and addiction. Tonja appeared in the magazine last year for our Black History Makers feature and we've also had her on our Podcast.  Since then, then her work within the community and throughout the country has only expanded. 

Born into a life fraught with challenges, Myles found herself ensnared by the grips of addiction and despair at a young age. However, Myles’ story is one of remarkable recovery and redemption. She navigated her way out of the depths of despair, turning her pain into a powerful tool for advocacy and support for others facing similar battles. This transformative journey from struggling with addiction to becoming an influential advocate is documented in her compelling book, “From the Crack House to the White House.” 

Myles’ professional work is as multifaceted as her personal story. Through her initiative, Set Free Indeed, she offers a lifeline to those entangled in the throes of addiction, providing resources, counseling, and a supportive community to foster recovery and healing. Her approach is rooted in empathy and understanding, shaped by her own experiences and the belief in the power of second chances.

Her role as a Community Engagement Advisor to the Huntsman Family Foundation amplifies her impact, allowing her to contribute to a broader mission of eradicating mental health stigma and promoting access to care. The foundation’s commitment to mental health, suicide prevention, and substance abuse treatment aligns with Myles’ passion for advocacy and support. Her involvement in initiatives like the Super Bowl Soul Celebration and the Stay A While podcast underscores her dedication to spreading messages of hope and the importance of mental wellness.

Tonja Myles points to pictures of her meetings with Presidents Bush (Jr and Sr!), Clinton, Carter, and Obama


Tonja Myles’ story and work embody the essence of service, resilience, and hope. Her contributions to mental health advocacy, her relentless fight against stigma, and her unwavering support for those in need showcase the profound impact one individual can have on the lives of many. Through her actions, Myles continues to inspire and pave the way for a more understanding, supportive, and inclusive society.