WASHINGTON (August 2, 2007)—Career Ambassador Johnny Young, a distinguished U.S. Foreign Service officer from 1967 to 2005, has been named executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS).
He succeeds Mark Franken, who retired in June from the USCCB. Ambassador Young begins his position August 13.
Ambassador Young's diplomatic service has included heading U.S. embassies in Slovenia, 2001-2004; Bahrain, 1997-2001;Togo, 1994-1997; and Sierra Leone, 1989-1992. In addition he has held various other State Department positions in Washington and around the world.
Msgr. David Malloy, USCCB general secretary, praised Ambassador Young's extensive background in government service, combining work in administration and policy with direct experience with refugee questions over the course of his diplomatic career.
"The work of the USCCB to aid refugees and victims of human trafficking is high priority for the Catholic bishops of the United States," Msgr. Malloy said in appointing Ambassador Young. "Because of his work in Africa, especially with refugees in Sierra Leone, and in Slovenia, where he worked against the scourge of human trafficking, Johnny Young has profound knowledge of the depths of these problems."
"In addition, his experiences with various government agencies, such as the Department of State's Office of Career Development and Assignments and the Office of the Inspector General, give him a breadth of perspective and exceptional management skills that will enable him to make a significant contribution to the work of the Department of Migration and Refugee Services," Msgr. Malloy said.
Ambassador Young is a native of Savannah, Georgia, and grew up in Philadelphia where he graduated from Temple University. He is married to Angelena V. Young and is the father of two adult children.
The U.S. bishops' efforts with migrants and refugees go back to the days of Ellis Island where between 1920 and 1930 alone, the church assisted more than 100,000 immigrants in their efforts to enter the United States.
Since 1975, MRS has coordinated the resettlement of more than 800,000 refugees through dioceses throughout the country. In 2002, the department began working with the victims of human trafficking. It also works with unaccompanied non-citizen children and juveniles who have been detained by federal immigration authorities and require specialized placements and services. In 2002, as part of the Homeland Security Act, it was successful in establishing new approaches for ensuring the welfare of unaccompanied minors in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities. Another MRS program involves Cubans and Haitians seeking refuge in the United States.
MRS has been at the forefront of legislative initiatives designed to benefit refugees, immigrants and other newcomers. In 2000, MRS advocated the passage of unprecedented legislative efforts designed to stiffen penalties for traffickers in humans and to provide protection and relief to the victims. In 2001, it was instrumental in obtaining increased Congressional appropriations for refugee protection and assistance activities. In 2003, MRS provided leadership in the extension of a key religious workers visas program and continues to advocate for religious workers before administrative agencies.