A recognized servant leader at the University of Richmond, a leadership studies major, and a Bonner Scholar, TJ Tann has dedicated himself to deepening his knowledge and experiences and working towards systematic change through a legal and policy framework. He began this work at the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) as a client intake coordinator. Simultaneously, Tann served as a development intern with The Commonwealth Institute, assisting in organizing their Policy Summit, and became co-president of the Multicultural Student Solidarity Network (MSSN) on campus. Tann’s humility and passion for getting things done is admired by students on campus and his colleagues in the community alike. As a summer intern at LIFT-DC, he worked with area families and developed the foundation of a possible policy arm of LIFT. Continuing his policy and advocacy work, he is now serving an intern with Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia.
Moving from house to house, using every paycheck as a lifeline and witnessing poverty in my neighborhood made me curious as to why it seemed like it was only happening to people and communities that looked like mine. Home, I subsequently learned, was a product of a collection of unjust and systemic policies such as legal residential segregation, an oppressive criminal justice system and the complicity of allowing the average American workers wages remain stagnant as businesses profits skyrocketed.
Experiencing, studying, and working with oppressed communities of color has inspired and motivated me to challenge systemic injustices through a legal and policy framework. As a result, I interned at the Legal Aid Justice Center assisting attorneys with clients who were either evicted from their homes or discriminated against at their workplace. This past summer I interned at LIFT, an antipoverty nonprofit where I worked individually with families to build credit, attain degrees and find housing. A symphony of new opportunities and organizations geared to end poverty in tandem with uprooting it through policies and collective action is what I believe to be the equation of ending a system that has remained oppressive to people of color across this country.