Michele johnson

Executive Director

Michele is co-founder and Executive Director of the Tennessee Justice Center. The focus of her nationally-recognized legal work has been children with special health care needs. In that role, she lobbied successfully to extend health care coverage to uninsured children in working families and participated in a landmark case establishing appeal rights for TennCare patients who are denied care by their HMO. As lead counsel, she negotiated a class action settlement requiring comprehensive reform of health care for 665,000 Tennessee children enrolled in TennCare.

Michele, a 4th generation Nashvillian, has been recognized by her alma mater, Father Ryan’s in their magazine, Irish Ayes, as one of five alumni “dedicated to improving life for the next generation of their family.”

She attended the University of Tennessee and graduated with Highest Honors 1990. Upon graduation from University of Tennessee College of Law, Michele received a grant from the Southern Community Partners, a project of the Lynhurst Foundation, to educate low income families about their children’s legal rights and to help them obtain the medical care the law and their doctors said they should have. In 1996, she left Legal Services to begin the Tennessee Justice Center with a grant from National Association of Public Interest Law (now Equal Justice Works). In 2014, Michele became Executive Director of TJC.

Michele is the winner of the 1999 Child Advocacy Award of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. She was the Lawyer’s Association for Women 2016 Nashville ATHENA Award nominee and Tennessee Alliance for Progress Long Haul award winner. Tennessee Voices for Children has also recognized her work by awarding her a Lifetime Achievement Award for advocacy. In 2015, The Tennessee Bar Association recognized Michele as the Ashley Wiltshire Public Interest Attorney of the Year. Her work has been featured in Her magazine. Michele is a Nashville and Tennessee Bar Association Fellow. Nashville Medical News named Michele in their 2016 edition of InCharge HealthCare Middle Tennessee. The Tennessean named Michele a finalist for their Tennessean of the Year Recognition in 2015.

Michele serves on the Board of Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and is on the St. Thomas Mission and Advocacy Committee. She has previously served and led boards including Tennessee Voices for Children, Nashville Bar Association Board of Directors, Tennessee Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders Foundation.  She is also the past chair of the Christ the King School Board and served on the Parish Pastoral Council at Christ the King Church. Michele coaches the Mock Trial team at Father Ryan High School.

Michele is married to Jeff Hill, an Oak Ridge native. They are parents to three boys. She is an avid runner and spends her free time with her large extended family.

You can reach Michele at

Gordon Bonnyman

Staff Attorney

“By making the plight of the least in society more visible, Bonnyman has raised the bar for all Tennesseans. The state is forced at least to look at how its fiscal and social actions affect the poorest among us before it makes a move.” – The Tennessean, naming Gordon Bonnyman Tennessean of the Year in 2003

Gordon Bonnyman grew up in a large Knoxville family. The family’s religious values and deep Tennessee roots have shaped his career.

Gordon has a BA from Princeton University and a law degree from the University of Tennessee. Since his admission to the bar in 1972, his entire career has been devoted to serving low-income clients.

As a Legal Services attorney for 23 years, Gordon represented thousands of low-income clients in a wide variety of civil matters. He earned a national reputation for his expertise in health policy. His advocacy work in housing, consumer, public benefits, disability rights, nursing home reform, juvenile procedure, civil rights, constitutional rights and health law not only changed the law in significant ways, but also changed lives throughout the nation.

In 1996, when Congress restricted the ability of Legal Services to handle class actions and other cases for the poor, Gordon joined Michele Johnson in co-founding TJC. He served as the executive director until 2014, when he stepped down to return to the full time practice of law as a TJC staff attorney.  At present, his advocacy is focused primarily on achieving access to health care for the poor and uninsured.

Gordon has written and lectured extensively, particularly on matters of health law and policy. He has served on numerous state and national boards, including Families USA, the National Juvenile Law Center, National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, the Nashville Bar Association, and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. He has served on advisory commissions on Medicaid and public health under several Tennessee Governors and has consulted with governors and legislators in other states. He was a member of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Commission on the Future of the Tennessee Judicial System. He currently serves on the Federal Civil Procedure Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

A nationally-recognized advocate for social justice, Gordon has received awards for public service and advocacy from numerous organizations. These include the John Minor Wisdom Award from the American Bar Association, the Reginald Heber Smith Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the War Horse Award from the Southern Trial Lawyers Association, the Morris Dees Justice Award from the University of Alabama and Skadden, Arps, and the Economic Justice Award from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. Gordon’s work has also been recognized by the American Cancer Society, the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare, the ACLU of Tennessee, the Tennessee Primary Care Association, Families USA Foundation, Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Women’s Political Collaborative, the Tennessee Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Nashville Bar Association and the Metropolitan Nashville Human Relations Commission.

In naming him the Tennessean of the Year in 2003, The Tennessean said of Gordon: “By making the plight of the least in society more visible, Bonnyman has raised the bar for all Tennesseans. The state now is forced at least to look at how its fiscal and social actions affect the poorest among us before it makes a move.”

During a 1978-1979 sabbatical, Gordon and his wife, Claudia, who is a state court judge, served as Volunteers in Mission for the United Presbyterian Church, working for a human rights organization in the Middle East. During a 1994 sabbatical, they worked under the auspices of the American Volunteers in Democracy program helping to staff a human rights organization that combats hate crimes and racial discrimination in Eastern Europe. They have one son, Houston, who is a family physician and palliative care specialist. Continuing a family tradition, Houston and Gordon get away whenever they can to hike the mountains of East Tennessee.

Gordon is thankful for his family, whose sacrifices and support have sustained him and his work. He is also grateful to his colleagues and to TJC’s inspiring clients. “I get to work each day with colleagues of exceptional compassion, dedication and skill,” Gordon says of his work. “We serve families who, in the midst of poverty, misfortune and injustice, inspire us with their courage and generosity of spirit. Working through the law, we have a chance to make a huge difference in their lives. And by ‘speaking truth to power’ on their behalf — compelling powerful government and corporate institutions to respect the legal rights of the powerless and the poor — TJC is working to fulfill our nation’s pledge of Equal Justice for All. To get to work for such people and ideals is a privilege.”

You can reach Gordon at

Chris coleman

Staff Attorney

Chris graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University in 1993. He then attended the University of Virginia where he received a master’s degree in English literature. In 1997-98, Chris served as a VISTA volunteer at the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center in Montgomery, where he conducted research on housing discrimination and organized community education programs on fair housing issues. This experience sparked Chris’s interest in the history of social justice movements in the South, a topic he went on to specialize in as a graduate student in history at Northwestern University. He received his master’s degree in history in 2000.

While attending law school at Northwestern, Chris worked in the Children and Family Justice Center and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern’s Bluhm Legal Clinic and was associate editor of the Northwestern University Law Review. He was awarded the John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship, the Leonard S. Rubinowitz Fellowship and the Joan Marie Corboy Scholarship. He also studied International Human Rights at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. He graduated cum laude and was inducted into the Order of the Coif. Following law school, Chris clerked for the Honorable Joan Humphrey Lefkow on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

After returning to Nashville, Chris joined the firm of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, where he represented plaintiffs in antitrust and mass torts litigation. He has participated in the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court and the Young Leaders’ Council and has served on the Board of Directors of the Young Lawyers’ Division of the Nashville Bar Association, the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, and the Nashville Chapter of the American Constitution Society, for which he served as chapter President in 2008-09. He is co-author of “Social Movements and Social Change Litigation: Synergy in the Montgomery Bus Protest,” published in Law & Social Inquiry in 2005. He is also the author several publications on the Affordable Care Act, including “Ongoing Barriers to Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act,” published in Clearinghouse Review, and “NFIB v. Sebelius: An Uncertain Victory for the Affordable Care Act” and “The Affordable Care Act in 2014: Are You Ready?”, both published in the Nashville Bar Journal. Chris is an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School, where he teaches Poverty Law.

Chris is married to JuLeigh Petty, a Senior Lecturer at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health and Society. They have two children, Sam and Lucy.

You can reach Chris at

Rob Watkins

Staff Attorney

Rob was born and raised in central Illinois. He received his BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his JD from St. Louis University School of Law. He is currently licensed to practice law in Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.

Rob began his legal career as a prosecutor in Decatur, Illinois prior to becoming Assistant Counsel to the Illinois Secretary of State. In addition to being an attorney, Rob has twenty years of business operations experience and has been actively involved in the entrepreneur community in Nashville.

After attending a TJC training on TennCare and the Affordable Care Act in 2013, Rob saw a need to automate the complicated eligibility screening process for the uninsured in Tennessee. After a year of hard work, Rob created AskJane! to fill in the gap. Named after long-time TJC paralegal, Jane Beasley, AskJane! makes navigating the maze of public health benefits more reliable. Utilizing a series of questions, the tool systematically categorizes applicants and identifies potential coverage and calculates eligibility. AskJane! screens not only for TennCare eligibility, but also Medicare savings plans, premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions.

At TJC, Rob is the staff attorney responsible for business development and technology initiatives. In addition to serving as the administrator of AskJane!, he actively promotes provider-focused services including eligibility screening process reviews, difficult case troubleshooting, education and trainings.

Rob is an active member of the Brentwood United Methodist Church. He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Brandon and Brittney, and reside in Williamson County.

You can reach Rob at

John Orzechowski

Deputy Director

As a college student, John had the privilege of taking three trips to Swaziland to volunteer at an orphanage for AIDS-affected children. In Swaziland, John saw the tragic effects that poverty and the lack of access to medical care can have on people’s health, dignity, and quality of life. This experience led John to consider health care issues and the need to increase access to health care—not just in Swaziland.

In 2008, John graduated with honors and received a B.A. in English and Religion from Southeastern University. He received the Southeastern University Award for excellence in community service and scholarship. After graduation, John moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

John has worked at the Tennessee Justice Center since 2011, first as a Client Advocate, helping families navigate the public health insurance system to get health care for their loved ones. John has special experience with CHOICES, a program for the elderly and people with disabilities who need nursing home or home-based care. In 2015, John took on a new role as Deputy Director, handling grant applications and reporting, financials, and technology infrastructure. John is grateful to be part of the TJC team and to have a job that is both intellectually challenging and emotionally fulfilling.

Outside of work, John enjoys playing guitar and spending time with his wife and slightly neurotic beagle.

You can reach John at

Kinika Young

Director of Children's Health

Kinika Young was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. She graduated summa cum laude from Florida A&M University with a degree in Political Science. She went on to attend Tulane University Law School and graduated cum laude in 2006. While at Tulane, Kinika was active in moot court, mock trial, and international arbitration competitions. She was also a student attorney in the Domestic Violence Clinic and a volunteer with Common Ground, an organization that assisted survivors of Hurricane Katrina with various legal issues. She also worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA, assisting individuals in Chicago, Illinois with potential claims to ancestral land in the South.

Kinika began her legal practice with Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC in 2006 and became a Member of the firm in 2015. Her practice focused on healthcare disputes, in which she represented hospitals and healthcare providers facing managed care payment disputes with third party payors. Kinika’s expertise includes analysis of regulations and statutes, such as ERISA and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, interpretation of contract provisions, and written and oral advocacy.  At TJC, Kinika will lead the Children’s Health Team, working to build a movement across the state to protect and strengthen the safety net for the most vulnerable children in the state. Her work will help Tennesseans understand their role in ensuring that every Tennessee child has a healthy start and a pathway to prosperity. Kinika has already made a huge difference at TJC as a pro bono attorney, a leader in the Raising the Bar Committee and a monthly donor.

Kinika is an active member of the Napier-Looby Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, American Bar Association, and National Bar Association. She was a member of the Nashville Emerging Leaders Class of 2010, TBA Leadership Law Class of 2013, and Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellowship Class of 2016.

In 2014, Kinika traveled to Cuba to study the country’s healthcare system as part of a delegation of the American Health Lawyers Association. In addition to traveling, Kinika enjoys dining out, reading, and listening to music in her spare time.

You can reach Kinika at

Alex Kent

Creative Director

Alex received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Tennessee. Since then he has worked in multi-media, non-profit communications for clients such as The Dan Marino Foundation, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, and Vanderbilt. He also has experience in non-profit fundraising, assisting with campaigns for Harvard’s Mass Eye and Ear and Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, TN.

A Nashville native, Alex enjoys exploring the city, film photography, all things fried and poorly made horror films. He is thrilled to be a member of the TJC and their mission.

You can reach Alex at

Keila Franks

Field Director

Keila was born and raised in Nashville. As an undergraduate at The George Washington University (GW), she developed a passion for social justice and human rights through internships at the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Human Rights First, and the U.S. Campaign for Burma. She also volunteered at the Beijing LGBT Center while studying abroad in China, and she conducted research on the Thai-Burmese border in preparation for her senior thesis on Karen refugees’ concerns about repatriation.

In 2014, she graduated summa cum laude from GW with a B.A. in International Affairs. Upon graduation, she worked at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants as a Pro Bono Coordinator in the Immigrant Children’s Legal Program. She also temporarily ran the small non-profit Sunday Suppers in Washington, DC. In 2015, Keila served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in a small town in Malaysia. She initiated and taught social and financial empowerment workshops at her school in Malaysia, and she volunteered at a local Islamic orphanage for girls.

In her free time, Keila enjoys being with her friends and family, meditating, reading, and playing with her chubby, cross-eyed cat.

You can reach Keila at

Keith Barnes

Director of Nutrition

Keith may have spent his first few years just across the state line in Kentucky, but he grew up in Portland and proudly calls Tennessee home.  In his childhood, he experienced firsthand the struggles of poverty.  Those experiences are what drives him in his work to ensure that everyone has access to real opportunities to move out of poverty and that no one goes hungry.

Keith earned his undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University and was a Peabody Honors Scholar at Vanderbilt University earning his Master’s in Community Development and Action.

Keith began his career of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Penobscot Nation, serving their tribal elders.  He got hooked and served a second year as a VISTA Leader for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, overseeing a team of nearly twenty VISTAs across Ohio working on a variety of anti-poverty projects.  Upon returning home for graduate school, he worked for the grassroots food security non-profit Community Food Advocates before joining the Tennessee Commission on Aging Disability (TCAD), a state agency focused on ensuring that older adults and persons with disabilities are able to maintain the highest possible quality of life and independence.

While at TCAD, Keith worked with a variety of local, state, and national stakeholders to seek solutions for Tennessee’s very high rate of older adult hunger.  He also administered a $13,000,000 program that funded a statewide network of meals on wheels providers, making policy improvements that significantly improved quality of service and helped increase meals served by 10% without additional funding.  He is excited to bring his broad array of experiences to the Tennessee Justice Center’s efforts to protect and improve Tennessee’s nutrition safety net.

Keith attends Nashville Friends Meeting (Quaker).  In his spare time, Keith’s usually involved in other causes to promote equality and opportunity, but also finds time for biking, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with his niece.

You can reach Keith at

Jane Beasley

Supervising Client Advocate

Jane grew up in a farming community in Kansas.  Her interest in social justice began when, as a teenager, she spent part of a summer studying social issues as part of a church youth project. She feels forever grateful for the summer evening she sat in Dr. Martin Luther King’s study listening to Dr. King and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy discuss their desires for a peaceful movement to equality.

She graduated with a B.A. from Kansas Wesleyan University and did her graduate study at Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois at Springfield).

Jane answers the calls of clients who need help with pubic programs, such as TennCare.  She counsels and advocates on behalf of those clients who have lost their benefits. 

Prior to joining TJC in 1998, Jane worked for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee as the coordinator of the Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program.  She assisted clients on issues surrounding Medicare, TennCare, long term health insurance and Medicare supplement policies.

You can reach Jane at

Andy hofer

Client Advocate & Intake Coordinator

Andy is a pending graduate of Mitchell-Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. While in law school, he clerked for the Honorable Edward F. Vlack of Saint Croix County, Wisconsin. As a student attorney, he spent hundreds of hours defending parents going through the Minnesota child protection system, as well as being involved in criminal proceedings as both a prosecutor and public defender. Having moved to Nashville with his partner, Andy looks forward to building a life and a career in this beautiful city.

You can reach Andy at

Jake Lorber

Client Advocate & Volunteer Coordinator

A native Nashvillian, Jake earned a B.A. in Political Science from Kenyon College, focusing on modern political philosophy and theory.  As an undergraduate, Jake was an office assistant for the Kenyon College Office of Student Accessibility and Support Services, where he prepared class materials for students with learning and sight disabilities.  Following graduation, Jake moved to Washington, D.C., where he was a research intern with The National Security Archive, assisting on projects related to U.S. – Soviet Cold War diplomacy, and performing independent research on CoIntelPro, an F.B.I.-initiated domestic surveillance program meant to undermine the efforts of the Civil Rights and New Left movements.  Following the completion of his research internship, he became a legal assistant for a national disability law practice.  Jake recently moved back to Nashville, and is excited to begin working with the TJC to better the lives of Tennessee’s most disenfranchised residents.

Jake enjoys studying history and foreign policy, live music, cooking, and hanging out with his two young nephews.

You can reach Jake at

Thomas Bynum

Client Advocate & Training Coordinator

Back stateside, Thomas attended the University of Virginia, graduating in 2009 with a dual degree in Psychology and Photography. At UVA he worked in a perception psychology research lab, working on studies ranging from window tint legality to the power of a magic pencil to improve test scores. Outside of his studies, Thomas was an active member of the UVA outdoors community, organizing trips across the southeast, and worked with the Albemarle Housing Improvement Project, providing home repair and refurbish services to local families in need.

After graduating Thomas found his way back to Nashville and worked in everything from addiction treatment to advertising before starting at TJC in 2017 as a Client Advocate and Training Coordinator. When he isn’t working at TJC, Thomas can often be found rock climbing around Tennessee, or building furniture in his workshop.

You can reach Thomas at

Katie Ann Twiggs

CHOICES Client Advocate

Katie Ann Twiggs grew up playing in the Appalachian Mountains where she was the youngest of four siblings. Her passion for social justice began taking root at a young age. It was her parents that first exposed her and her siblings to political activism and advocacy work.

As an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Katie Ann studied social work where her passion for fair healthcare access deepened. She spent a semester studying abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland. While abroad she participated in a program that allowed her to tour several public health agencies. She studied the cultural, political, and practical differences between the organizations in Knoxville and the organizations in Aberdeen that offer healthcare services to homeless populations.

After graduation, Katie Ann began working as a service coordinator at HUD Housing facilities. She provided community resources and educational events to improve residents’ quality of life. From there she moved to the East Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability where she worked in the OPTIONS, National Family Caregiver Services, and CHOICES programs. Katie Ann was moved by the stories and struggles she heard from Tennesseans trying to gain access to the help they needed. Realizing the barriers that so many senior citizens and disabled adults face while applying for services led Katie Ann to her current position as CHOICES Client Advocate at the Tennessee Justice Center. She is very excited to be a part of the TJC team and looks forward to making Nashville her home.

In her free time Katie Ann enjoys painting, going for walks, and trying new foods.

You can reach Katie Ann at

Dranda Whaley

Office Manager

Dranda Whaley says that she knew Tennessee Justice Center before it even existed – and it’s true!   In 1994, as TennCare was implemented, she worked closely with staff from Tennessee Health Care Campaign and the Legal Aid Society who encouraged state officials to recognize that an advocacy service was needed while Tennesseans were being transitioned from Medicaid to TennCare. The Advocacy Program, which was a service of the Crisis Intervention Center, was to become Health Assist Tennessee, a stand-alone nonprofit organization, with Dranda as the Executive Director, a position she held until the state de-funded the organization in 2012.  From Health Assist Tennessee, she moved to the Tennessee Primary Care Association, where she headed up the newly-formed Navigator program, overseeing the Association’s work with the Federally Qualified Health Centers across Tennessee as the Affordable Care Act was implemented.  Next she worked with Enroll America, a nation-wide effort to maximize the number of Americans who enrolled in the Marketplace plans or qualified for state-sponsored health insurance such as TennCare.  Her years of experience advocating for and assisting individuals with their health care needs makes her landing at Tennessee Justice Center now almost a forgone conclusion.

Dranda has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and has completed master’s-level studies at Lipscomb University’s Institute for Conflict Management.  She is a supporter of the Seeing Eye, Inc. in Morristown, NJ; her late husband was a dog guide user for over 30 years.  A member of Glendale Baptist Church, a caring community of equality and grace, she spends her Sunday mornings minding the babies and toddlers and also plays in the hand bell choir.  She has two bumper stickers on her car:  “Insure Tennessee Now” and “Bartlet for America.”

You can reach Dranda at

Aftyn behn

Engagement Manager

Aftyn Behn, LMSW, as the Engagement Manager for the Tennessee Justice Center, connects TJC to advocates across the state by fostering relationships and increasing their commitment to improving health security for Tennesseans. With a particular focus on rural Tennessee, Aftyn utilizes a rights-based approach to engage communities so that they can take action to address their salient healthcare challenges. Before the Tennessee Justice Center, Aftyn worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Switzerland developing community-based protection policies for special interest refugee groups, which included improving healthcare accessibility. Aftyn received her MSW from the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work specializing in Community and Administrative Leadership and Disability Studies. Aftyn is from East Tennessee, and strives to emulate Dolly Parton, utilizing her charisma and experience to improve the lives of Tennesseans by proudly wearing purple.

You can reach Aftyn at

Anna Walton

Health Action Associate

Anna was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. She graduated from Yale University in 2016 with degrees in Political Science with a concentration in Healthcare Policy and History of Science, Medicine and Public Health. She had previously worked as a civil litigation paralegal and joined the TJC team in February 2017. Anna works on our advocacy team where she is responsible for coordinating media exposure for the stories we collect and developing creative approaches for sharing TJC’s message with communities across Tennessee.

She enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

You can reach Anna at .

Caroline Rossini


Caroline Rossini graduated from Vanderbilt in 2007 with a B.A. in Spanish and moved to Phoenix, AZ to work for New Global Citizens, a nonprofit that equips and mobilizes teenagers to positively impact the global community by partnering with grassroots organizations around the world. Upon returning to Nashville, Caroline served as the youth minister at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal), where she and her family remain deeply engaged members today. In 2011, she returned to Vanderbilt to work in the development and alumni relations office. In 2014, Caroline joined Batch Nashville to lead corporate sales and curation.

Caroline is delighted and humbled to be a small part of TJC’s incredibly important work. Beyond the office, you’ll find Caroline hiking the trails of nearby (and distant!) parks, playing on her yoga mat, and sharing good food with good people.

You can reach Caroline at

Skyela Roberts

Administrative Assistant

Skyela Roberts is a native Tennessean and a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Anthropology and a Bachelor’s of Art in German Language. As an undergrad, she focused on studying cultural anthropology, which began her interest in social welfare, intersectionality, and civil rights.

After graduating college, she worked on a grant project at Centerstone Research Institute of Tennessee to collect research data on vulnerable populations involved in foster care, mental health centers, and addiction recovery centers. Her work there further ignited her passion for working at non-profit agencies to improve the healthcare and wellbeing of her fellow citizens.

Skyela eagerly joined our team as an administrative assistant in hopes to use her talents to support TJC in fighting for the rights of Tennesseans.

In her free time, Skyela enjoys making art, learning languages, and playing outdated video games.

You can reach Skyela at

Shelby Dodson

Elder Justice Fellow

After graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science from Harding University in Searcy, AR, Shelby came straight back home to Nashville and began law school at Belmont University College of Law. She received her J.D. cum laude from Belmont in 2016.

At Belmont, Shelby was a notes editor on the Belmont Law Review and an executive board member of the Belmont Legal Aid Society.  During summers, Shelby clerked for The Honorable Mark Fishburn, Nashville Criminal Court Judge, and The Honorable Gale Robinson, Nashville General Sessions Judge, and interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.

During her final year of law school, Shelby spent a semester interning at the Nashville Office of Legal Aid of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, where her irrepressible love for public interest law was born and fostered. At Legal Aid, Shelby worked in the Housing and Consumer Law practice group, serving clients enduring the aftermath of unfair business practices and suffering from housing insecurity.

In her free time, you can find Shelby passionately cheering on the Nashville Predators, wandering around the Nashville Farmers’ Market, or relaxing with her little dog, Seamus.

You can reach Shelby at

Dennisse Calle

King Child Health Fellow

Dennisse Calle received her B.A in Sociology with a focus in Latin American Studies from Princeton University in 2016. Her thesis was a qualitative study of how ungoverned media affects the habitus of Cubans in an emerging capitalist society. Her coursework involved understanding the intersections of gender, race, and the State in the U.S.

Last year she was a fellow at the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services in Brooklyn, NY where she spearheaded capacity building trainings surrounding immigration rights, managed grants and projects, and  coordinated the annual Foster Care holiday party.

She is enthused to be working as a King Child Health Fellow at TJC and is excited to learn how Tennessee cares for their children.

You can reach Dennisse at

Danielle Johns

Warfield Fellow

Danielle is a graduate of Belmont University College of Law, where she was a member of the Belmont Legal Aid Society, National Health Law Moot Court team, SBA, and Peer Mentors. Danielle is passionate about ending human trafficking, and lobbied Tennessee’s legislative delegation in Washington to introduce The Human Rights Prioritization Act. In her spare time, Danielle volunteers for the Boys & Girls Club, and loves spending time outdoors.

Danielle will be starting at TJC in the near future.

Hannah Ravis

Jesuit Volunteer

Native Portlander, Hanna Ravi recently moved to Nashville with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and will be spending her volunteer year at Tennessee Justice Center. Prior to JVC, Hanna graduated from Santa Clara University with degrees in Biology and Spanish Studies. Hanna hopes to attend medical school down the road and use the knowledge she gains from TJC to better advocate for patients on the medical end!

You can reach Hannah at