Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

IVC NCA Member Profile: Ann Johnson

by | May 29, 2024

Providing Administrative Support and More at Migration and Refugee Services 

IVC Service Corps Member Ann Johnson brings not only a lifetime’s worth of skills to her administrative position with partner agency Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington Migration & Refugee Services (MRS), but a personal touch as well!  An IVC volunteer since 2006, Ann began her service with MRS in 2009 and over the years has assisted clients in such ways as driving them to appointments, delivering supplies, and completing forms for services.  And all while focusing on managing paperwork for a busy social services agency.

Today, with an ever-increasing number of refugees in need of services, Ann’s office skills are in high demand. She now helps process federal grants and payment vouchers and prepares database entries for new arrivals. “Ann is a great mentor to our staff,” says MRS Program Director Belayneh Loppisso. “And she understands both sides – not only the administrative process, but the day-to-day interaction with families.”

Her position at MRS also helps the agency build capacity and allows staff to devote more time towards resettling refugees.  “Ann and (fellow IVC member) Joe Duffy bring all their experience to us, understanding office procedures and workforce requirements and helping our staff to understand the challenges facing newcomers. We’re grateful to IVC for their service!”

Over the last fifty years, MRS has provided essential resettlement services to over 30,000 refugees in Northern Virginia, with programs that center on reception and placement, employment, health education and outreach, and services for older refugees. They are one of the largest resettlement agencies in Northern Virginia, assisting 900 to 1,000 new refugees each year. “It’s a private-public partnership program, welcoming them at the airport, securing their apartments, and connecting them with different needs,” adds Belayneh. “At the end our goal is to help these families be self-sufficient.”

Ann’s background and experiences prepared her well for her service with MRS.   A graduate of Jesuit-run Seattle University, she taught high school history, lived in multiple countries as the wife of a diplomat, and performed extensive volunteer service on behalf of her family and the communities in which she’s lived.  They include serving as a Cub Scout den mother,  teaching first communion classes, cooking at a shelter for abused women, proofreading for an English-language newspaper in Slovakia, leading English conversations at a foreign university, and lectoring at parishes in three countries in which she lived. For over twenty years Ann served at a hospice in Northern Virginia, working in patient care and serving as a public speaker on behalf of the agency.

She really enjoys her work at MRS.  During the pandemic she spent over a year providing conversational English lessons to a young Afghani mother and worked with her on citizenship test questions.  She passed the exam on the first try!  This summer she hopes to help a client with one-on-one English conversation as well.

Ann loves being a part of IVC!  “I joined in 2006 because of its program of retreats, spiritual reading and reflection in small groups, and the company of like-minded people,” she says. “My desire to volunteer also comes from the charism of my parish, Our Lady Queen of Peace, which focuses us on service to others.”