Tammy Braswell Found Her Voice Through Supporting Communities in Need

With her nonprofit Transform-A-Nation, Braswell offers a slew of comprehensive services including one-on-one and group counseling for children and adults, after-school programs for inner-city kids, and employment support.
—Photography by Travis Marshall

Tammy Braswell has always had a huge heart. As a teen, she says, “I was the type of kid who was drawn to those who were mistreated or didn’t have a friend.” When she graduated high school, she won the “Most Extroverted” award.

Says Braswell, “In the graduation speech, they were like, ‘This is someone who is friends with the nerds, the smart kids, the shy people, anyone who is struggling.’”

For all her outgoing personality, at home in Park Heights, where two of her siblings wrestled with addiction, Braswell was secretly struggling. Her brother “was verbally and sometimes physically abusive,” says Braswell, 54. While her parents did their best, she was often told to “keep quiet” about what was happening to protect her brother from getting in trouble with the law.

“I lost my voice at a very young age,” she says. Braswell was a gifted student but acted out in school. “The principal took an interest in me,” she says. “She tapped into my purpose. She saw me as a leader and enrolled me in a business leadership program.”

Eventually, thanks to this mentorship and adults who gave her a safe space, Braswell found her voice again through public speaking. Not surprisingly Braswell decided to pursue a path in which she could be a beacon for others in need. She earned a bachelor’s degree in pastoral counseling from North Carolina College of Theology in 2009, a master’s degree in human services administration from the University of Baltimore in 2016, and a Master of Education degree in rehabilitation counseling from Coppin State in 2018, all while working at Health Care Access Maryland, eventually as the deputy director.

Still, her own childhood experiences continued to loom large. “I began to want to create a space for little girls like me,” she says. “There are so many Tammys out there.”

In 2019, she started Transform-A-Nation (TAN). The faith-based nonprofit headquartered in the Montford neighborhood of Baltimore offers a slew of comprehensive services including one-on-one and group counseling for children and adults, after-school programs for inner-city kids, help with supportive employment, parenting skills, nutrition advice, and even a special support group for those on kidney dialysis, many of whom are senior citizens raising their grandchildren. Recently, TAN acquired a 15-passenger vehicle to take to the streets and identify individuals who might be struggling with addiction or in crisis.

“I didn’t want to just stop at offering mental health services,” says Braswell. “I wanted to reach whole families and have services to support them, too. If we can reach a client, and in doing so can reach a family, that’s how we get a healed community.”

Now that she has the confidence to know her voice matters, Braswell speaks with fierceness and force, barely pausing between sentences—there are too many lives at stake, too many people in pain, too much work to be done for her to take a break.

TAN has delivered care to more than 200 clients this past year and Braswell hopes that the organization will continue to grow.

“We might not have a thousand clients but that’s because we are taking our time with each one of them,” she says. “I am on a mission to bring healing everywhere I go.”