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Women Leaders in the Ignatian Family

Joan Rosenhauer

Institution: Jesuit Refugee Service USA

Title: Executive Director

Location: Washington, D.C.

What does your job entail?
I serve on the global leadership team of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), as regional director for North America and as executive director of JRS/USA. I lead our efforts to mobilize support in the U.S. for JRS’s mission of accompanying, serving, and advocating for refugees and displaced people in 57 countries around the world. This includes programming, providing chaplains in five centers where people are being detained by the U.S. government, and providing legal and mental health/psychosocial support in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in collaboration with JRS Mexico. JRS/USA is also launching a network of volunteers to support newcomers in cities across the U.S.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is the mission, and I have the honor of working with amazing refugees and staff around the world. The mission is a direct reflection of the Gospel call to care for the “least” among us and implement the Universal Apostolic Preference of walking with the excluded. The mission inspires me to carry out my work, as does working with remarkable refugees and colleagues around the world.

How could the Jesuits and the church as a whole foster women’s leadership more effectively?
JRS has allowed me to step up and play a leadership role in the global organization, and I have felt welcomed and respected. I have had the chance to have frank discussions with my Jesuit colleagues about how the Jesuits can even more effectively welcome and support the engagement of women in their mission and ministries. These kinds of discussions are essential and must lead to trainings and orientations for Jesuits and their female colleagues, as well as implementation of plans that will help the us collaborate effectively as the number of Jesuits diminishes while their mission and works are more important than ever.