Skip Navigation
Open Menu


Alumni Spotlight | Claire Johnson

May 22, 2023
By Jonathan Winkler

TNA Class of 2012

Claire Johnson


Claire Johnson, ‘12, is a Program Director for Ability Connection in Dallas, Texas. She finds her purpose in life through offering care to those struggling with mental health diagnoses and those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). Ability Connection has been providing services for adults with IDD for over 70 years. Claire’s department oversees three residential group homes in the DFW area. She currently has 18 clients in her homes and supervises 25 employees. 

“When people’s lives are involved, you have to be hands-on at all times. The job is very rewarding, though,” said Claire. “I really enjoy serving those with severe mental health disabilities. They are the most misunderstood and they are most times labeled the ‘outcasts’ of society, so being able to build relationships with them is special. I take pride in my ability to not only make them feel seen, but valued.”

Claire said she enjoys her job because every day is a new challenge.

“Some days I’m working with families or coordinating with staff, and some days I’m observing and training staff in the homes. However most times I am on phone calls, sending e-mails, or attending meetings, there is never a dull moment.” said Claire.

Before her position at Ability Connection, Claire worked as a community case manager for TRUE Mental Health, providing intensive outpatient case management to adults living with severe mental health disorders. She credits her previous position at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital for preparing her for the duties in her roles in Dallas. 

“I was out in the community, sometimes meeting with the homeless under bridges or in the homes of those struggling to with their quality of life due to their diagnosis. I would provide different services to them such as finding housing or getting them started with different benefits like Medicare, etc.,” she said. 

Prior to relocating, Claire also worked at FamilyLinks for two years, providing direct care to adolescents who were in a group home setting receiving behavioral intervention. 

Claire earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016. She is currently working towards her Master of Social Work at The University of Texas at Arlington, where she just completed her first year with a 4.0 GPA. She has plans to become a licensed clinical social worker and do individual therapy for adults, while serving as a hospital social worker on the side. 

Claire interned at The Neighborhood Academy working in the girls group counseling during Summer Session. She credits former TNA girls counselor, Debbie Krochka, for helping her find her passion.

“Debbie is my girl. Her approach to counseling was unique and impactful. She was one of the first people that encouraged me to go into my field. If I did not move to Dallas, she always said I should take over her role at TNA when she retired.” said Claire.

While Claire playfully considers herself a “workaholic,” she always finds time for her Labrador-Pointer mix, Ari, sleeping, and the occasional happy hour!