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.
Please visit our Careers page for updated information about current job openings and internship opportunities at TJC.
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. In 2019, Equal Justice Works honored Michele at their Annual Dinner for her continued commitment to the work she did as an EJW fellow in 1996.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Nutrition Advocacy
Director of Nutrition Advocacy
Signe Anderson moved to Nashville, TN from Washington, D.C. She grew up on a small family farm in Minnesota.
Signe began her career as a teacher in Guinea and France. She earned a B.A. in French and Russian from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and her Master of Science in Nutrition Policy from the Friedman School at Tufts University. Signe first came to Washington D.C. to help lead a small international development organization working to improve human rights and social justice in Africa and Mexico. Before coming to Nashville, Signe worked at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. As a Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst, she led FRAC’s relationship with dozens of partners across the nation that provide free, healthy meals to children — even when school is not in session. Her work focused on increasing awareness for the Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs and growing the number of children who receive meals.
When she is not at work, Signe enjoys spending time running after her two-year old daughter, training for half-marathons, and gardening. She also enjoys cooking and good eating. Signe met her partner, Kevin, on a cross-country bike trip in 2002. He has been chasing her ever since.
You can reach Signe at email@example.com.
Senior Client Advocate
Senior 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, institutional conditions 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 fulltime 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 is a fellow 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 Kutaks-Dodds and Reginald Heber Smith Awards from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the War Horse Award from the Southern Trial Lawyers Association 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 newspaper 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 retired 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 combatting hate crimes and racial discrimination in Eastern Europe. They have one son, Houston, who is a family physician and palliative care specialist in New Orleans. 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.”
Events & Communications Coordinator
Events & Communications Coordinator
Logan Bulls is a recent Sewanee: The University of the South graduated who majored in international global studies and minored in politics. A Baltimore, Maryland native, Logan was an all-American member and captain of the women’s lacrosse team, worked in the admissions office, participated in Greek life and was a member of multiple clubs that promoted civic and social advocacy. Before joining the TJC, Logan lived in DC for the summer and worked at an event planning firm helping plan events and logistics for fortune 500 companies and democratic political campaigns. Logan is excited to work with the child advocacy and nutrition department while also being the events and operations coordinator to gain more experience to work towards her goal of going into family law.
Community Outreach Coordinator
Community Outreach Coordinator
Keith Caldwell is a Nashville native. He attended The American Baptist College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology. He later earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Vanderbilt University Divinity School.
He first became actively engaged politically through labor union organizing as a
union steward and went on to become a grassroots community organizer with the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, where he later became the executive director. Caldwell is the former president of the Nashville Branch NAACP, serves as a board
member for the Scarritt Bennett Center, and is on the Executive Board of the IMF (Interdenominational Ministerial Fellowship). He is currently a Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church and pastors the Historic Seay-Hubbard (UMC) Church in South Nashville. He is also the proud father of four adult children.
You can reach Keith at email@example.com
Health Policy Team Program Manager
Program Manager – Health Policy Team
Chanda is a native of the city of Jackson, which is nestled between Nashville and Memphis, in rural West Tn. Her passion for social and economic justice began at an early when she testified at the state capitol with other youth with the Tennessee Hunger Campaign. They encouraged the legislature to support a bill that provided free and reduced lunch for low-income families.
Chanda also served as part of an international delegation of women working to promote asset accumulation strategies such as micro-entrepreneurship and Individual Development Accounts for low-income women. Her work with this group resulted in the signing of the first national trade agreement between low-income female microentrepreneurs operating businesses in Kenya in the United States.
Chanda is a graduate of Union University, Jackson, TN. She is Master Level Social Worker and a highly sought-after community development planner and consultant. Chanda has worked in public health for many years, and she has over 20 years of experience working with faith and community-based organizations.
Prior to joining TJC, as a Program Manager on the Health Policy Team, she served as a Community Health Development Program Director for the TN Department of Health. Her primary focus was centered around community health improvement processes, building capacity, and strengthening the infrastructure of community health councils to improve health outcomes in rural West Tennessee.
Chanda continues to follow her passion for justice, she is the founder of the West TN Rosenwald Historical School Project. She is also a founding member of the West TN Minority Contractors Association, Community Youth Builders Community Development Corporation and JumpIn Inc. She Board Member for a host of community organizations and she is a minister at Christian Lifeway Ministries in Oakfield, TN. When not working she enjoys reading and spending time with her daughter and beloved fur baby Maslow.
You can reach Chanda at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gift Processing Coordinator
Gift Processing Coordinator
Finn Gallagher is a recent graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, and a lifelong Nashville resident before then. He’s excited to have found work for the community that he calls home. Before then, he worked at the Michigan Justice Center, lobbying the state legislature for reform in good time credit laws. He began working for TJC as a Development Team intern in August, and now works as their Gift Processing Coordinator, and it’s shaped his interest in continuing to work in business development for non-profit organizations. At Sewanee, Finn studied economics, theatre, and playwriting, receiving honors for his research thesis on economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Outside of work, Finn has a real passion for the performing arts; he acted in college, and continues to write plays after graduating, recently participating in the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive, and even performing as a magician in the Nashville area.
You can contact Finn Gallagher at email@example.com
Previously, Brant was a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office where he helped to lead enforcement actions under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, several large consumer protection multistate investigations, and the National Association of Attorneys General Class Action Fairness Act Working Group. He has previously served as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and as a Faculty Member for the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute.
At TJC, Brant is responsible for helping to lead the strategic direction of the legal team and to collaborate with the advocacy teams to advance the mission of the organization.
Aside from being passionate about healthcare equity, Brant is an avid hiker and nature-lover. When he is not hiking at Radnor Lake, he, his wife (Michele), two children (Robert and Mary Cil), and two Boston Terriers (Lucy and Ethel) may be found at their home in Nashville.
You can reach Brant at firstname.lastname@example.org
King Nutrition Fellow
King Nutrition Fellow
Anna is originally from Southeast Tennessee, born and raised in McMinn County. She moved to Lexington, Virginia, to attend college at Washington and Lee University where she studied English, Poverty and Human Capabilities Studies and Studio Art. Having just graduated in May of 2021, Anna just started as a Nutrition Client Advocate at TJC in June.
Anna had been interning part time with TJC’s Nutrition Team since Summer of 2020. She primarily does Nutrition casework and is dedicated to understanding federal and state SNAP policy. Anna also has been a part of TJC’s P-EBT advocacy and casework efforts.
In her free time Anna is exploring the Nashville food scene, hiking and drawing.
King Child Health Fellow
King Child Health Fellow
Asia was born and raised in the Cincinnati area. She later moved to St. Louis for college where she studied Sociology and Legal Studies at Washington University. While in school, Asia was exposed to inequities within the healthcare system and consequently developed a passion for health advocacy. In the future, she plans to become an attorney and practice health law.
New to Nashville, Asia looks forward to exploring the city’s music and food scene. You can reach Asia at email@example.com.
Originally from the small town of Dennison, Ohio, Aleena Robinson came to Nashville to earn her Bachelor of Science in Social Entrepreneurship from Belmont University and pursue a career in service of others. Aleena has spent 2.5 years working in development in the Nashville nonprofit community before TJC and looks forward to bringing her skills to the development team at Tennessee Justice Center. Aleena has continued to pursue training and education to further her knowledge of the development and fundraising cycle and received her Revenue Development and Fundraising Certificate through Nashville’s Center for Nonprofit Management in 2021. She looks forward to supporting the work of TJC through her role as Development Manager.
In her free time, Aleena enjoys outdoor activities, baking, and traveling to new places with friends or family.
You can reach Aleena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily grew up in Traverse City, MI where she took full advantage of Lake Michigan and the abundant National Park land in the area. Her passion for nutrition and food security was first cultivated at the small family farm where she grew up. She eventually translated that interest into a degree concentrated on Environmental Sustainability and Food Security at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee.
After graduating, Emily started doing event and communications work for a small craft chocolate shop in Northern Michigan. Much of her work revolved around educating people about fair and direct trade sourcing practices, teaching chocolate making classes, and handling community outreach and new partnerships. She also had the opportunity to intern for an organization working to improve access to outdoor recreational opportunities through urban trail network expansion. Emily is excited to bring her passion for food security to the Nutrition Team and looks forward to helping connect people with food assistance programs in Tennessee.
When not at work, Emily enjoys cooking, gardening, and hiking with her puppy Willow. She’s excited to be back in Tennessee and is looking forward to getting to know Nashville. You can contact Emily at email@example.com.
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer
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.
Senior Director of Health Policy and Equity
Kinika Young is a lawyer and health policy advocate who frequently speaks on issues concerning access to healthcare, focusing on the role of public benefit programs to help people who lack adequate resources to meet their needs. As the Senior Director of Health Policy and Equity at the Tennessee Justice Center, she leads efforts to build a movement across the state to protect and strengthen the safety net for children, families, seniors and people with disabilities and move towards the equitable allocation of resources to all Tennesseans. Since joining TJC in 2017, Kinika’s work has helped Tennesseans understand their role in ensuring that every child has a healthy start and that every person has a pathway to reach their full potential. She is a certified Building Strong Brains trainer and a member of the Leadership Team of ACE Nashville. Kinika also serves on the Healthy Nashville Leadership Council, Tennessee’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, and SHADAC Medicaid Equity Dashboard Project Advisory Committee.
Kinika began her legal practice in 2006 with Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC 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 is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. She graduated from Florida A&M University with a degree in Political Science and earned her Juris Doctor degree from Tulane University Law School.
Kinika was a member of the Nashville Emerging Leaders Class of 2010, Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law Class of 2013, Lawyers of Color, Inc. Inaugural Hot List of 2013, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellowship Class of 2016, Nashville Medical News Women to Watch Class of 2018, Families USA Health Equity Academy in System Transformation Fellow Class of 2019, and Nashville Bar Foundation Fellows Class of 2021. She was also a member of the American Health Lawyers Association Delegation to Cuba in 2014.
You can reach Kinika at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff Attorney, Health and Nutrition Lead
Vanessa is a staff attorney at the Tennessee Justice Center. Vanessa first worked at TJC as a legal intern in 2018 while in law school, and then as Vanderbilt’s George Barrett Social Justice Legal Fellow in 2019. Vanessa’s public benefits practice is focused on nutrition and healthcare. She provides direct legal services to individual Tennesseans. She also supports TJC’s impact litigation and advocacy work to make system wide changes across the state. Vanessa also helps to maintain and develop our casework management system. Vanessa has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. She was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 2019 and will be admitted to the New York bar in 2022.
You can reach Vanessa at email@example.com.