Serving the Black Community through Wellness: Justine Kelley

In this Q&A, Justine Kelley (TMA ‘10) shares her journey to launching her business providing psychoeducation about holistic wellness.                                 

  1. What role has Thurgood Marshall Academy played in your development as a professional? 

My experience at Thurgood Marshall Academy was life-changing. Here, I learned invaluable lessons about my identity as a Black woman, a speaker, a writer, a critical thinker, a creator, and student of life. My involvement with groups such as Debate Team, Anti-Defamation League, Dance, Green Club, and AP courses, all pushed me beyond my limited beliefs about who I was.

  1. What was your journey to creating a business that promotes holistic wellness?

After graduating from Thurgood Marshall Academy, I attended King’s College in Wilkes-Barre PA, where I double-majored in Psychology and Theology. Then I returned home to SE Washington, DC where I taught as a Pre-K teacher at Cedar Tree Academy. After two years of working as a teacher, I decided to apply for graduate school at Marymount University in Arlington, VA. I received my Masters of Arts in 2019 in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Spiritual Care. By August 2019 I became licensed in the state of Maryland as a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor and acknowledged as a National Certified Counselor. 

In October of 2019, I had the opportunity to work as a counselor at a nonprofit organization called Vesta Inc. in Forestville, MD. There I counseled older adults with chronic and severe mental health illness and substance use disorders. I worked alongside a team of counselors, case managers, psychiatrists, and doctors to provide the best care for my clients. 

Currently, I work as an independent contract counselor for a small Black-owned practice where I have over 30 clients presenting problems ranging from poor communication skills to Major Depressive Disorder. In October 2020 I launched my first business called Genesis Solutions and Consulting, where I provide psychoeducation about holistic wellness through interactive videos, groups, and journal prompts. 

  1. What do you look forward to in your career?

I look forward to healing the Black community and leaving a legacy of wellness. 

  1. Any advice for TMA students who are interested in pursuing the same field?

The counseling field is broad and there’s space for everyone. Find your niche by understanding your passions. Think about your end goal and then research and connect with those who can assist you in getting there. 

I would encourage each TMA student who is considering doing work in this field to also consider and remember your why and who. Why do you want to start this work and who do you want to serve? Helping professions require a lot of ourselves and we can often feel weighted by the responsibility, but it’s always encouraging to come back to your why and who to keep you grounded.