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 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.
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.”
Training and Volunteer Manager
Training and Volunteer Manager
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
You can reach Thomas at email@example.com
Ray was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. A musician and music aficionado, he first came to Nashville to attend Belmont University in 2010. There, Ray developed his passion for social justice and public service by participating in a number of service-learning projects, including tutoring at the YMCA and mentoring in the PeaceJam Mid-South conference. He was also a member of Belmont Bridge Builders, where he served as the social media chair, and the Black Student Association.
After graduating from Belmont with his B.B.A. in 2014, Ray relocated to the Northeast, where he began his career in development at WAMC, the NPR member station in Albany, NY. He later worked in gift processing for Western New England University in Springfield, MA. Ray returns to Nashville with a dual focus of reconnecting with his musical roots and wielding his experience for “the least of these” to ensure that as many people as possible have access to their basic human needs.
Ray believes in the virtues of community, media, and due process. He is a huge proponent of income equality, public libraries, and health care for all. Outside of the office, you can find Ray walking his yorkipoo around his Germantown neighborhood, catching independent film screenings at the Belcourt Theatre, hiking on Radnor Lake, and performing shows around town as a singer/songwriter.
You can reach Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org
James grew up about thirty minutes south of New Orleans (he swears there is habitable land south of New Orleans!), where he worked in industrial sales and the music business. He then pursued a B.A. in Philosophy and minor in English at Arizona State University. While studying at ASU, he interned as a writing instructor with The Pen Project, which aimed at reducing the recidivism rates of maximum security and other incarcerated individuals through writing education.
James and his wife moved to Nashville in 2017 so she could begin medical school at Meharry Medical College. Then, in 2018, James decided to pursue a career in law and enrolled in the country’s first ABA-approved hybrid (in-person/online) J.D. program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. His primary areas of interest are health law and alternative dispute resolution.
James began working at TJC as a legal intern in January 2019. He was then hired in March to assist with special projects and currently focuses most of his attention on casework, as a client advocate.
Outside of work, James enjoys traveling, watching movies, and dining out with his wife. He also enjoys reading and playing drums in his spare time.
Director of Medicaid Policy Advocacy
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
Director of Medicaid Policy Advocacy
CHOICES Client Advocate
Born and raised in the “Motor City” (Detroit), Jada moved to Nashville in 2010 to attend Tennessee State University. She would later achieve her goal of obtaining her bachelor and master’s degree in Social Work. Jada’s passion for helping individuals who are deemed vulnerable lead her to work at Centerstone where she advocated for individuals who needed assistance with navigating systems in order to maintain or improve their quality of life. Her passion for helping the vulnerable only grew larger and Jada knew she wanted to create a bigger impact on a larger scale. In 2017, Jada saw an opportunity to work for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) and seized upon it. There she would work with families to ensure individuals maintain their level of care and supported those who were seeking more independence; furthermore, she advocated from within against policies that could jeopardize an individual’s services and continuity of care. Shortly after the birth of her daughter (Natalie) in 2018, Jada was diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis and degenerative disk disease that warranted extensive spinal infusion surgery forcing her to resign her position at DIDD. With an unfavorable diagnosis and a long-projected recovery, Jada was focused on becoming stronger and returning back to work. She credits her faith, family, and friends for being the motivation she needed for a speedy recovery. Jada knew she wanted to get back into doing what she loved, helping people and advocacy, which brought her to The Tennessee Justice Center. Outside of work, Jada enjoys traveling, swimming, bike rides on the Greenway, cooking, and writing. “Your setback is just a setup for your comeback” – Steve Harvey.
You can reach Jada Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHOICES Client Advocate
Nora Hendricks grew up in the small town of Edmonds, Washington, about 20 minutes north of Seattle. She attended the University of Portland, where she graduated in the spring of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Spanish. She was a member of the university’s Honors Program and served as Chair of the Alumni Relations Committee for the program during her senior year. She was fortunate to be able to spend her sophomore year of college studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria where she had the opportunity to travel to and experience the cultures of many countries in Europe. She participated in undergraduate research during her three years studying in Portland, coauthoring a paper on study habits of college students and doing microbiology research on campus. She also spent a little over a year as a Murdock Scholar, doing research at Oregon Health and Science University, where she focused on the effects of maternal obesity on vitamin D metabolism in the placenta, and has served as both the Treasurer and the President of the Undergraduate Research Club at the University of Portland. Nora has also participated in immersion trips to Burlington, Washington, the Dominican Republic, and in her own college city of Portland, Oregon, which have increased her awareness of social injustices and passion for social justice.
Nora is currently doing a volunteer year of service as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She has only been to Nashville once before but is looking forward to working in and experiencing a new part of the country! She is excited to be working at the Tennessee Justice Center as a Client Advocate and Story Coordinator.
During her free time, Nora enjoys distance running, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and reading.
You can reach Nora at email@example.com.
Sarah Henson comes to TJC after finishing up her MSW at the University of Tennessee (Go Vols!) where she also completed her undergraduate degree in social work with a minor in global politics and economy.
Born and raised in Knoxville, Sarah is excited to explore her new city and all that Nashville has to offer.
Sarah has a background in school-based mental health, community development, and youth development. She worked as a clinic caseworker and insurance specialist, for the Knoxville City Mayor’s office, and with Young Life Knoxville at Austin-East Magnet High School.
Her interest in Nutrition advocacy comes from a combination of experiences including working and conducting research at a school-based clinic, studying comparative public health abroad in London and Amsterdam, and running a branch of the Knoxville YMCA Community Giving Gardens to address local food insecurity.
In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and being outside in any capacity – biking, running, hiking, soccer, or climbing trees.
She believes all Tennesseans should have easy access to the resources to live healthy lives and looks forward to advocating for improved nutrition policy and practices in Tennessee.
You can reach Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
King Health Fellow
King Health Fellow
Austin Hollimon is a 2019-2020 King Health Fellow.
He first worked for the Tennessee Justice Center as a Summer intern in 2011 and was inspired to return in 2019.
Between his stints at TJC, Austin pursued a bid to be an Olympian, falling short in the 2012 US Olympic Trials. He graduated from Princeton in 2013 with a BA in U.S. History.
Austin joined Teach for America as a 2013 Corp Member. After finding that programs to inspire students were missing in education, Austin founded of a non-profit, Commit Youth, to provide “motivation materials” to high schools. In 2015 Austin earned a sponsorship to chase his Olympic dream through partnership with Dick’s Sporting Good’s. He trained through 2016.
After his push for an Olympic bid in 2016 Austin joined the staff at Cristo Rey Atlanta as an administrator where he worked (and ran as Olympic hopeful) until June 2019. He begins his journey to become an attorney as a King Health Fellow and will enroll in law school in August of 2020. He hopes to attend either Georgetown, Penn, or Emory University for his J.D.
You can reach Austin at email@example.com.
WIC & Child Nutrition Advocate
WIC and Child Nutrition Advocate
Kelli grew up in College Station, Texas across the street from the Texas A&M football stadium. When she wasn’t up late studying and listening to the cheers of the crowd, she was leading her swim team as team captain and completing university level neuroscience research projects, ranging from synthesizing nanoparticles to investigating the role of obesity in neuroinflammation.
As an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, she advocated for environmental access and engagement through the student organization Wilderness Skills while earning her degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. She also worked for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition researching financial crimes, advising staff attorneys on related policy proposals, and leading communications projects to advocate for eliminating civil asset forfeiture.
Upon graduation in 2018, she worked at Oasis Center in the Street Outreach Program providing basic services, housing navigation, and community outreach to youth experiencing homelessness. Kelli joined TJC’s Nutrition team in September 2019 as a WIC and Child Nutrition Advocate. She is excited to blend her passion for food and nutrition with her skills in advocacy.
In her free time, Kelli likes going to the farmer’s market, tending to her houseplants, and reading. She has a passion for handwritten letters and is learning how to play the piano.
You can reach Kelli at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join in anti-hunger work or have tips on how to play the piano; it’s harder than she thought.
Digital Media Associate
Digital Media Associate
Nicole was born and raised in the suburbs of Nashville. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2019 as a Cherry Scholar with a BA in Political Science and Public Policy concentration as well as a Journalism minor.
She wrote a column on women’s issues for the College Heights Herald before becoming the paper’s Opinion Editor in 2018. As an acting member of the Editorial Board, she wrote and published editorials addressing issues of press freedom, breaking news, local civic engagement, and the sociopolitical barriers associated with gender expression and class status. She has spent four years working with anti-abuse organizations–serving as Communications Committee Assistant for the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Abuse, as an advocate at Hope Harbor-A Sexual Trauma Recovery Center, and as a volunteer for Branded Collective. In all of her various volunteer experiences, she has worked alongside victims of abuse, advocating for policies that protect victim’s rights, and educating the public about the stigma of abuse and lived experiences of victims. She joined our team in October of 2019 to continue her passion for amplifying the voices of regular Tennesseans.
In her free time, she is involved in Nashville’s music community, enjoys drawing, and attending community events around the city.
Nicole will be responsible for creative communications across all channels and management of the social media component of our work.
You can reach Nicole at email@example.com.
Lauren grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and moved to Nashville in 2015 to escape the cold (and attend Vanderbilt University). Lauren graduated from Vanderbilt in 2019 with a degree in Health Policy and Corporate Strategy. Her classes and summer internships fostered her interests the intersection between healthcare and law. While at Vanderbilt, she also served as the President of the Student Alumni Board and dedicated time weekly to tutoring children from low-income homes in Nashville for four years.
As a senior at Vanderbilt, Lauren worked as a Casework Intern at TJC during 2018-2019. Her love for the challenging work and opportunity to help people throughout Tennessee encouraged her to join TJC as a full-time staff member upon graduation. As a Melkus Fellow, she will focus on aiding pregnant woman in attaining and maintaining healthcare, an area of work that she believes is particularly important. Lauren is currently applying to law schools to enroll in Fall of 2020.
Outside of work, Lauren loves trying new restaurants and coffee shops in Nashville and reading books outside.
You can reach Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
Community Outreach Coordinator
Charlotte has lived her life off highway I-40 between North Carolina towns and Nashville, her first and current home. She graduated as a Community Engaged Scholar and the 2013 Phyllis G. Betts Awardee from the University of North Carolina at Asheville where she studied Anthropology. After school, she served two years as an AmeriCorps Member in the field of environmental sustainability and conservation.
She worked for five years as an educator and program coordinator contributing to food sovereignty projects in Nashville with immigrants, refugees and MNPS students through her time with Plant the Seed, Hands on Nashville, and Paragon Urban Farm.
On a national and regional level, she has been organizing for farmworker justice with allies alongside the Coalition of Immokalee Workers since 2014, serving two years on the Student/Farmworker Alliance National Steering Committee. In her local commitment to economic justice and dignity for all, she volunteers with Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera, a worker-led center where she served two terms on the Steering Committee since getting involved in 2014.
In her free time, she enjoys working in her garden, eating cornbread, and terrible jokes.
You can reach Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Outreach Coordinator
Katie Ann Twiggs
Independence Team—Community Engagement Coordinator
Katie Ann Twiggs
Independence Team—Community Engagement Coordinator
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 email@example.com.
Chief Operations Officer
Chief Operations Officer
After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2007, Caroline moved to Phoenix, where she was the manager of finance and administration for New Global Citizens, a nonprofit that mobilized teenagers to positively impact the global community through partnerships with grassroots organizations around the world. In this role, she quickly earned the nickname “shortstop” — filling in gaps whenever possible and working across team lines to ensure the success of the organization. For more than a decade, this drive to connect and solve problems has remained a defining mark of Caroline’s career.
Back in Nashville, Caroline’s pursuits have afforded her a broad array of experiences. As director of Batch Nashville (and the start-up’s first hire), Caroline oversaw all aspects of the company’s corporate and custom orders, including inbound and outbound sales, product curation, vendor relationships, and warehouse operations. From 2011-2014, Caroline was a research analyst in Vanderbilt’s development and alumni relations office, working with fundraisers across the university to identify major gift opportunities and strategies. Previously, Caroline served as director of youth ministry at Christ Church Cathedral, where she and her family remain deeply involved. She was elected to the church vestry in 2016 and then to the role of Junior Warden in 2018 for the final year of her term.
Caroline joined TJC part-time in 2017 as the bookkeeper. She is a Nashville native and lives in Green Hills with her husband and two little boys. Beyond the office, you will find her playing on swings and slides and yoga mats.
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
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 to develop and execute 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
George Barrett Social Justice Fellow
George Barrett Social Justice Fellow
Vanessa grew up in New York and after working and volunteering at various non-profits, she decided to pursue a career in public interest law. Vanessa graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2019. While at Vanderbilt, she took classes and worked on projects regarding various poverty law issues. She also served as the Community Service Chair for the Vanderbilt Bar Association, organizing and coordinating various service days for students to volunteer in our Nashville community.
Vanessa worked as a Legal Intern at TJC during the summer of 2018. Her interest in healthcare law grew and her wish to assist TJC clients navigate Tennessee’s Medicaid program drove her to develop a project to continue working at TJC. Vanessa was awarded the George Barrett Social Justice Fellowship in order to pursue this work. As a George Barrett Social Justice Fellow, she will focus on aiding clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities maintain and access healthcare services. She will also assist TJC on key legal projects and advocacy work.
Vanessa has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School.
Outside of work, Vanessa loves hiking with her partner and two dogs, pottery and making textile art.
You can reach Vanessa at firstname.lastname@example.org.