Special/Signature Issues » 2014 Top 40 Under 40

Misty Johnson, 36

Care Coordinator, Virginia Department of Health

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Having the chance to work with what she calls a forgotten population has given Misty Johnson some of the most rewarding opportunities of her career.

As a care coordinator for the Virginia Department of Health, Johnson has been given a special mission to work with former prisoners living with HIV and AIDS, who often reenter society without access to basic medical care.

"Maybe they don't have money for their co-pay, or live out in a rural part of Virginia. I am their only lifeline at that point," Johnson says. "It's really wonderful to be able to talk to these men or women and to spend as much time as I need to get them back in care."

"It's just one of those populations that gets passed by," Johnson says.

While Johnson's caseload fluctuates, she says the attention she can give them is consistent. She describes working with one client who was struggling with payments and a parent sick with cancer through finding a job and putting down roots in a community. "For me to be given the opportunity to really focus 100 percent of my attention on my clients is really rewarding," she says.

Her willingness to serve has taken her as far as El Salvador, where she joined the Peace Corps to work in health care after she graduated from James Madison University. After working eight years there, she decided that Richmond was the place she wanted to raise a family and continue her work. She sought a new adventure, but one closer to home.

Johnson says she's found a welcoming city, where opportunities such as volunteering with the Downtown YMCA have connected her with the community. "We came to the city not knowing what to expect," she says. "We have been very lucky. I'm really happy to be here."

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