Staff Spotlight: Toshonda Johnson-Hall

Blue background with green and yellow faint bubbles. Text says Arc Staff In Focus: Toshonda Johnson-Hall, Assistant Director of Children & Family Services. On the left, a photo of a woman in black with glasses and a necklace. On the right, a photo of a woman with her arm out to the side, standing next to a smiling man in a hat, in front of a green spherical sprinkler on the splash pad at Camp Hope.

In 1998, Toshonda Johnson-Hall was working as a Payless store manager when residents from one of The Arc of Essex County’s group homes stopped in to buy new shoes. Toshonda began chatting with the residential staff and soon learned about The Arc’s day programs. With three young children at home, she was interested in a different working schedule, but she also was inspired by watching the dynamic between The Arc staff and consumers and thought the day program might be a good fit for her.

Before long, Toshonda was on board as a floating staff member between The Arc’s Avenues and Maplewood Community Recreation Center (CRC) programs, eventually being promoted to assistant manager at Maplewood CRC. She continued to move up and build up her responsibilities as manager and then as senior manager of what would become the expanded Opportunity Zone in Maplewood.

In 2023, she joined The Arc’s main office as Assistant Director of Children and Family Services, where she provides guidance for families as they navigate their support options, coordinates The Arc’s children’s programming, such as Parents’ Night Out and Saturday Respite, and manages the Self-Hire Respite and Life Management programs. She also works with adults during Hotel Respite weekends and in the Tuesday and Thursday After-Work Program.

Toshonda has loved the opportunity to learn more about guardianship, transition services, and what resources are available. Attending fairs, she says, has been helpful not just for spreading the word about The Arc of Essex County, but also as an opportunity to learn from other organizations and businesses. What she especially loves about her position is sharing that knowledge with Arc families when they need it most. “I love being able to be that voice of support, to help families, to be there for parents at a time when there’s a lot to figure out,” she says.

That giving-back gene runs in the family: Toshonda’s grandmother was a caregiver for people with disabilities, and over the years Toshonda has watched as her four children, who now range in age from 23 to 34, have volunteered at Camp Hope and helped at Day Programs and Saturday programming.

She loves being along for the journey, not just as consumers grow up within Arc programs, but also as staff move up through the ranks. “We’re all growing together.”

“This is not just a job,” Toshonda says. “You really develop a relationship with everyone at The Arc—the people you work with, the consumers, the families. It’s really something special.”