Dabney holds a Master’s degree in anthropology from Duke University, where she researched the cognitive theories employed by social workers in deciding whether to remove children from their homes and served on the North Carolina Governor’s Commission on Standards for Foster Care.
She worked as a founding staff member of Women’s Agenda, an advocacy organization based at the Women’s Law Project. She has worked on a series of advocacy efforts relating to Philadelphia Family Court and co-authored, with Carol Tracy and Terry Fromson, Justice in the Domestic Relations Division of Philadelphia Family Court: A Report to the Community (2002), which provided an exhaustive analysis of the functioning and safety of the court and the experiences of litigants. This report launched the movement that led to the building of a new, vastly improved Family Court in Philadelphia.
Dabney is also a founding co-chair of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, and led early efforts in Pennsylvania to secure the right to second-parent adoption for lesbian and gay parents. Her efforts resulted in a ruling by the PA Supreme Court finding that the PA Adoption Act does indeed permit lesbian and gay parents to adopt the children of their partners. She has been on the Women’s Law Project staff since 1985, and taught “Legal Advocacy and Negotiation” at the Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work since 1998.
Dabney earned MSS and MLSP degrees from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.