Jane Dimnwaobi, Class of 2023, has been named a 2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow.
Dimnwaobi will work at the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC), where she will represent clients appealing benefit denials under TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program, CoverKids, Tennessee’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, an anti-hunger program for low-income families. She will also complete a larger project of researching and compiling data that enables policymakers and advocates to identify and remedy racial disparities affecting Tennesseans seeking access to benefits through these safety-net programs.
The Tennessee Justice Center is a Nashville-based legal nonprofit that focuses on health equity, justice, and children’s health while advocating for Tennessee seniors and people with disabilities to get the support they need to live independently. TJC’s policy initiatives include advocating for Medicaid expansion in Tennessee under the Affordable Care Act. TJC also maintains a “story bank” documenting the experiences of Tennesseans with no access to healthcare or crushing medical debt or for whom access to public programs like TennCare and CoverKids have made a life-changing difference.
Dimnwaobi’s work at the Tennessee Justice Center will involve direct client advocacy, research to uncover the scope and impact of racial inequities in Tennessee’s safety net programs, and the creation of a “health equity dashboard” that integrates statistical analysis with compelling client stories. Her interest in health law and policy was sparked by two health law courses she took at Vanderbilt, exposure to health and poverty law issues through various internships, and observing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income Tennesseans.
“I saw the importance of access to quality, affordable healthcare, and the Tennessee Justice Center has made incorporating racial justice into healthcare advocacy a priority throughout its 26-year history,” Dimnwaobi said. “I am excited about the opportunity to examine the scope and impact of racial inequities in benefits provided through TennCare and other safety net programs in Tennessee while also advocating for clients impacted by these disparities.”
Her two-year Equal Justice Works fellowship is sponsored by International Paper.
“I am very excited to be working with Jane to expand and strengthen our Health Equity work. Her project focus is a critical part of health law and health policy. She has done great work and is an impressive individual. We are so excited to have her on our team,” said TJC Staff Attorney Vanessa Zapata ’19, who is the organization’s incoming director of health policy and health equity.
“We are blown away by the opportunity to work alongside Jane! Her brilliance and passion will be such an asset to the families we serve, our team, and the state. International Paper and Equal Justice Works generosity will have an impact for generations! We are so grateful,” said TJC Executive Director Michele Johnson, a 1996 Equal Justice Works Fellow.
During law school, Dimnwaobi worked as a researcher for the Future of Privacy Forum in Washington, D.C., where she focused on general data protection rights, children’s rights, and the evolution of privacy laws in the U.S. and abroad, and as a research assistant for Professor Cara Suvall, where her work focused on youth voter engagement, court debt, and felony disenfranchisement.
She worked as a legal intern for Asurion in Nashville in summer 2021 and as a summer associate for Willkie Farr & Gallagher in Chicago in 2023, where she worked in the commercial litigation and privacy and cybersecurity groups.
She also worked as a law clerk for the Appellate Division of the Tennessee Public Defenders Conference in Franklin, Tennessee, and as a law clerk for the Illinois Prison project in Chicago, Illinois, where she drafted clemency petitions for individuals serving extreme sentences.
Dimnwaobi was Web Editor of the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review. “ELPAR merges law and policy, and it opened my eyes to the importance of policymaking and the particular set of skills that work requires—skills I will definitely apply in my work with the Tennessee Justice Center,” she said.
Dimnwaobi earned her B.A. in international relations with minors in French and migration studies at Boston University, where she was a Merit Scholar and a Yawkey Foundation Award recipient and served as student body vice president.