Some of us have done this work for decades; some of us are just getting started. Many of us are born-and-raised Tennesseans, and some of us have come thousands of miles to join TJC. Our team is proud to work hard every day on behalf of and in partnership with Tennessee individuals, families, and communities. Click photos for more information.
Executive Director, Co-Founder
Executive Director, Co-founder
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 email@example.com
Staff Attorney, Co-Founder
Staff Attorney, Co-founder
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Susan originally came to Tennessee from Minnesota to be an intern at the Highlander Research and Education Center in East Tennessee in 1992. After working briefly in Chicago, Susan returned to Tennessee in 1994.
Susan’s early work in the state included working as a community organizer for a community/church/union partnership addressing plant closures in rural parts of the state. She also worked alongside TJC staff in pushing for the state’s welfare reform law to address the real needs of low-income Tennesseans. Not long after that, she became one of our first TJC employees, working as a client advocate in 1996-1997.
Susan left TJC for twenty years but has recently returned to fill the COO role.
In the interim, Susan consulted with national nonprofits, primarily on research and strategic planning. Most recently, she worked for a national union on research, policy advocacy, program development, and strategic planning and communications. She has worked on projects as wide-ranging as the development of a savings plan for low-income workers in California and the creation of a property tax reform campaign in Texas.
Susan was formerly (long ago) an infrequent contributor to the radio show This American Life, which she mostly uses to impress her teenagers.
Susan has a BA from Carleton College and an M.Ed from Vanderbilt University.
Susan lives with her husband John and her two daughters on a farm in Leipers Fork. She is an active supporter of public schools and a devoted but ever-failing gardener.
You can reach Susan Drury at email@example.com
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Financial Officer
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. In that role, John had special experience with CHOICES, a program for older adults and people with disabilities who need nursing home or home-based care. John also helped launch a successful Medical-Legal Partnership with Johnson City Community Health Center, an affiliate of East Tennessee State University.
In 2015, John took on TJC’s financial responsibilities, including financial strategy and reporting, grants, and funder relationships. John is grateful to be part of the TJC team and to have a job that is both intellectually challenging and emotionally fulfilling. A graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School (2010), John is perhaps an unlikely finance professional, but enjoys working at the intersection of TJC’s life-changing programmatic work and the administrative and financial resources that make it possible.
Outside of work, John enjoys playing guitar and spending time with his wife and two neurotic dogs.
You can reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org
Case Manager and Client Intake Coordinator
Case Manager and Intake Coordinator
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 public 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 email@example.com.
Melkus Family Justice Fellow
Melkus Family Justice Fellow
Kayo Beshir was born in Oromia, Ethiopia and has lived in Kenya, Uganda and now the United States where he earned his U.S. citizenship in 2010. He is a recent graduate from Middle Tennessee State University, graduating with a B.S in International Relations. During his collegiate career, he had an opportunity to study international affairs at George Mason University and Spanish politics in Barcelona, Spain. Kayo loves traveling and learning languages (4 already) and he aspires to be an international lawyer. Kayo serves as the Nashville UNICEF Congressional Action Team Leader, member of Tennessee Immigrants & Refugee Rights Coalition, and President of the Oromo Youth Community of Nashville where he has been able to use his platform to be a mentor to the younger generation. Kayo was awarded 2017 Rising Human Rights Advocate of the year by the Tennessee United for Human Rights Commission. While much of Kayo’s work has been focused on global issues, he is excited to work at TJC to focus on local issues that impact the lives of his Tennessee neighbors.
When not at work, you may find Kayo cooking Ethiopian food, playing soccer or booking his next flight. He loves to travel and takes advantage of doing so any chance he gets. Kayo has visited 37 cities,16 countries, and four continents. He aspires to visit all 195 countries and all 7 continents before he retires.
You can reach Kayo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Client Advocate and Training Coordinator
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 email@example.com
You can reach Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org
King Child Health Fellow
CHOICES Client Advocate
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 training on capacity building 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Equal Justice Works Fellow Elder Justice AmeriCorps Program
Equal Justice Works Fellow Elder Justice AmeriCorps Program
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 email@example.com
Josh is from Leeds, Alabama. His values were shaped in his formative years by his mother and grandmother, both women of strong faith and integrity. He attended Vanderbilt University where developed a passion for being apart of empowering marginalized communities. During this time, he participated in student and community-led campaigns against racism, wage theft, unfair labor practices, and power-based personal violence among other things. From 2015-2018, Josh was a community organizer for a faith-based, direct action coalition called Interfaith Coalition for Action Reconciliation and Empowerment (I.C.A.R.E.) in Jacksonville, Florida. While in this position, he developed his skillset around active listening, training, and issue/campaign work.
In his spare time, Josh enjoys writing fiction, reading nonfiction, listening to podcasts, new music Fridays, rooting for Lebron in the Finals and rooting against the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
You can reach Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
During her time at Furman University, Ashlan developed a passion for public health and equality. Her Health Sciences major enabled her to travel to sub-Saharan Africa twice to study health inequality. It was this trip combined with her volunteerism for The ONE Campaign that sparked her passion for social justice and healthcare.
In college, Ashlan ran an organization called, The Global Issues Forum where she held events ranging from human trafficking to HIV, and she serves as a grassroots organizer for The ONE Campaign where she advocates for poverty eradication. Ashlan also served as a volunteer labor doula, where she has helped women through both pregnancy and childbirth.
She enjoys trying new foods, spending time with friends, and traveling, and is excited to use her passions for social justice and healthcare to help all Tennesseans.
You can reach Ashlan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Tennessee. Alex developed a passion and commitment to the disability community in his late teens working with the Arc of Middle Tennessee and Vanderbilt’s Kennedy center. Embedded in the non-profit sector, he learned the importance that sincere, authentic, and honest communications have on the longevity and fortuity of an organization’s mission. From the Dan Marino Foundation in Miami, Florida to La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California, Alex has traveled across the nation helping organizations sharpen their brand identity using multi-media materials.
Alex enjoys traveling, photography, graphic design, web design, and watching classic films.
You can reach Alex at email@example.com.
SNAP Access Coordinator
SNAP Access Coordinator
Cassaundra Lockridge was raised and born in Nashville, Tennessee. She received her BA in Political Science at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. She has studied on the EU and Human Rights at the Catholic University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium. Likewise, she has done a field study course on the United Nations in New York by jointly interviewing different entities in the scope of the UN.
Additionally, she has served as President with an inclusive and diverse oriented organization called Kaleidoscope. In this organization, her spark for social justice kicked off. Through her leadership efforts, Kaleidoscope participated in the Women’s March on Washington and other impactful events during her collegiate career. She interned for the Hospital Corporation of America for three summers in the sector of Finance and Corporate Affairs. Now, she is jumpstarting her career at TJC as an AmeriCorps Vista to end domestic hunger and alleviate poverty for Tennesseans.
In her free time, she enjoys traveling domestically and internationally, volunteering, and meeting new people.
Cassaundra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in raised in Nashville, Hayes recently got her B.S. from Vanderbilt University. She majored in Human & Organizational Development and Sociology and is currently helping to organize grassroots initiatives to expand Medicaid in Tennessee. She is passionate about policy and hopes to systemically improve the lives of people in underrepresented communities through nuanced and empathetic policy change.
Hayes enjoys playing fetch with her tailless cat and tempting fate by sitting outside in the sun.
You can reach Hayes at email@example.com.
Katie Ann Twiggs
CHOICES Client Advocate
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
Children Nutrition Advocate
Children Nutrition Advocate
Madison is from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She graduated from Emory University in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science. As an undergraduate, Madison was a recipient of the Community Building and Social Change Fellowship. As a Fellow, she conducted community perceptions research about gang activity in Atlanta and worked with an urban farming initiative to implement a mobile grocery operation. Following graduation, Madison acted as a disaster relief volunteer in Nepal and traveled extensively in Morocco, Tanzania, and India.
Prior to joining the TJC team, she acted as the Director of Project SHINE at Emory University where she trained and coordinated over 100 volunteers to serve in EL classrooms across Atlanta. She served as a community volunteer for five years, tutoring EL students in English and U.S. Citizenship classes. She strongly believes that everyone has a right to a quality education and that our society has a duty to invest in children, low-income families, and New Americans.
Madison works with the TJC Nutrition Advocacy Team and the No Kid Hungry Tennessee Campaign as a Child Nutrition Advocate. She conducts outreach and provides communications support, technical assistance, and resource development to schools to increase participation in Breakfast After the Bell (BAB) programs. She is proud to work with TJC to reduce child hunger across the state.
Outside of work, Madison enjoys reading epic fantasy and learning new swing dance combos. She resides in midtown with her partner, Connor, and their Old English Sheepdog, Alfie.
You can reach Madison at firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Policy Associate
Health Policy 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 foregone conclusion.
Dranda has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and has completed masters-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 handbell choir. She has two bumper stickers on her car: “Insure Tennessee Now” and “Bartlet for America.”
You can reach Dranda at email@example.com.
Director of Children’s Health
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. Kinika joined TJC in 2017 to 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 helps 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, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellowship Class of 2016, and Nashville Medical News Women to Watch Class of 2018.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.