Julia Nelson was born in Santa Barbara, California. Throughout her time in highschool and during her years in city college she volunteered with incarcerated youth, previously trafficked young women, those experiencing homelessness, and those struggling with substance use. When she transferred to the University of San Francisco she worked on appeals for those on death row and joined the Foster Care Research Group. She studied the strengths and resilience of transition-age foster youth using a community based participatory research framework and presented her research at the Human Behavior Research Conference, the Creative Activity Research Conference, and the Western Psychological Association. Julia graduated from USF Summa Cum Laude and with the Deans Medal of Excellence in the Arts. Shortly after graduating, she joined A Home Within as the program manager.