Director | Office of New Americans, New Jersey Department of Human Services

When Johanna Calle first started her advocacy work as a high schooler helping petition Congress to pass the DREAM Act, she held back her most personal connection to the issue. “No one knew I was undocumented. People would ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and I would just say, ‘It’s important.’ I did not come out as undocumented until I had a green card.”

Born in Ecuador and raised in Hackensack, New Jersey, Calle came to the United States as a child, and was undocumented for 11 years. Today, as the director of the Office of New Americans (ONA) at the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Calle works on identifying, developing, and executing policies and strategies to welcome and empower immigrant communities.

Prior to her work at ONA, she served as the director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, a coalition of more than 40 organizations advocating for pro-immigrant policies at all levels of government. There, she played key roles in passing legislation to expand access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and implement the state attorney general’s Immigrant Trust Directive, designed to ensure that undocumented immigrants can feel safe interacting with law enforcement.

Calle previously worked for the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and participated in the ACLU of Northern California’s MiACLU campaign, visiting various ACLU affiliates fighting for immigrants’ rights. She mentors and advises youth and adults organizing for racial and social justice and civic engagement.

About Office of New Americans, New Jersey Department of Human Services 
The Office of New Americans (ONA) in the New Jersey Department of Human Services supports new Americans on several levels. It works through outreach and education, building trust, while improving access to social services, workforce development, employment services, and legal services for immigrants. The ONA also helps make state programs more accessible and amplifies education and outreach for other state agencies trying to reach new American communities.

Learn more about the Office of New Americans here.