Michele Johnson 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.
Ms. Johnson attended the University of Tennessee and graduated with Highest Honors. While she was at University of Tennessee College of Law, she spent one summer as an intern in the DC office of the National Health Law Program. Upon graduation from University of Tennessee College of Law, Ms. Johnson 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 (TJC) with a grant from National Association of Public Interest Law (now Equal Justice Works). In 2014, Ms. Johnson became Executive Director of TJC.
Ms. Johnson 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 Ms. Johnson as the Ashley Wiltshire Public Interest Attorney of the Year. Her work has been featured in Her magazine.
Ms. Johnson 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.