Former Foster Youth| Nashville, Tennessee
Tawny Spinelli is a 26-year-old former foster youth. She spent her whole life in and out of the foster care system, coming into custody because of abuse and neglect and finally aging out at the age of 18. Her time in foster care was plagued by instability and lack of permanency. During her 7th grade year, she went to 7 different schools, and by the time she was 19, she had moved 21 times. Despite these unfortunate circumstances, Tawny graduated high school as Salutatorian and completed her Bachelor's degree at Vanderbilt University, receiving departmental honors in psychology after completing a thesis on her undergraduate research in stress and motivation. Currently, Tawny serves as the Assistant Director of the Tennessee Governor's Children's Cabinet and Coordinator of the Tennessee Young Child Wellness Council. Formerly, she has professional experience working with the Department of Justice, the Senate Finance Committee, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Family and Children's Services, YWCA Domestic Violence Center, and the TN Health Department. Tawny stays involved in her community by regularly volunteering with Nashville CARES and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Plus, she is an appointed member on the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. In the future, Tawny plans to pursue her PhD in clinical psychology studying stress, motivation, and lifespan outcomes of childhood trauma.