Meet Megan Hochbein. Megan is the Director of Operations at Exodus, and she is celebrating 10 years with us! Megan started off at Exodus as the Volunteer Coordinator, and she has held several different roles since then. As the Director of Operations, Megan assists the Executive Director with the oversight of the organization and its administrative and operational functions. She is also DOJ accredited, so she assists clients in applying for their green cards and for the family reunification process. Megan also oversees the Reception and Placement Program.
To celebrate Megan’s tenth anniversary, we asked her about herself and her memories from 10 years at Exodus.
I’m the proud mother of two girls, who are much faster than I am but who can’t yet beat me in a game of 2-on-1 basketball. My husband, who I met at summer camp, is an attorney and wishes I’d take golfing a bit more seriously. I am very passionate about rescuing dogs – we’re on our third – and most days you’ll find me with a chai in hand. I enjoy reading, though I am mostly reading juvenile fiction these days. I’m always up for Game Night – I will be the weak link on your trivia team but you should still ask me to join. And most importantly, I do not support the use of the Oxford Comma. (If any appear in this piece, blame the Exodus Editorial Board.)
I grew up in Northwest Indiana and moved away for college with the thought that I’d never return to the Midwest. Eight years after finishing college, with moves to four states in between, I returned home to Central Indiana to be near family and to start my own.
While an undergrad, I was employed part-time with the Public Service Center on campus. I learned from the amazing women leading the student staff about the value of community service and each person’s ability to impact change by engaging with their community. I loved connecting and leading students in meaningful service opportunities. I took a career detour while my husband pursued his law degree, but always knew I wanted to return to work that involved community service. I happened to stumble upon the Volunteer Coordinator job posting with Exodus and emailed a family friend about the organization. She told me simply, “Exodus Refugee is quite reputable and does very good work.” I showed up for my first interview to the ugliest blue warehouse off 10th Street and wondered what I had gotten myself into. But as it turns out, they do indeed do very good work, and I’m proud to be a part of that work.
“To the clients who have taught me faith, courage and hope beyond measure, I thank you. I am glad you’re here.”
My academic background and much of my professional and volunteer experience have been working with youth. In 2015, I was given the chance to support and supervise an exceptionally talented AmeriCorps member and help launch Exodus’ Youth Program. The Youth Program now serves hundreds of youth annually, providing care and direct assistance to kids and their families. I am incredibly proud to have played a role in the Youth Program’s inception.
Exodus was also a sub-grantee of the Refugee IDA (Individual Development Accounts) program several years ago. As the Coordinator, I had the honor to work with over sixty individuals and families in the pursuit of owning a home, starting a small business, purchasing a car or pursuing post-secondary education. Almost 75% of the program participants successfully exited the program!
It’s been a privilege to play a supporting or encouraging role in other’s achievements. What an honor to get a house tour from a proud new homeowner or receive an invitation to attend a Naturalization ceremony. What joy to celebrate a refugee client’s first job or driver’s license. How lucky to work alongside interns whose experience leads them into careers in Human Rights. How great to be at the front desk and high five the ENL students who navigated their first solo trip to the office on an IndyGo bus. Not to mention the joy in emails from volunteers who were “matched” with a refugee family 8 years ago and are now sharing pictures from graduations and weddings. It’s amazing to see how quickly making a connection to a volunteer opportunity evolved into a lifelong friendship. They are not my accomplishments, but they make me so proud, so thankful, to do this work.
“Working in resettlement is a privilege. To the volunteers who have inspired me with your kindness and hospitality, I thank you. To the colleagues I call family, I thank you.”
So, so, so many fond memories! Do you know how many babies I’ve held in 10 years? So many babies! But seriously, most of my fondest memories involve welcoming newcomers at the airport. I have probably welcomed at least 100 refugee families at the airport in the last ten years, but I never grow weary of that privilege.
Once I was scheduled to welcome a young Karenni man at the airport. We had plans to move him in with two other recently arrived Karenni young men who were already sharing an apartment. I had given the young men his name, and they said they knew him from Malaysia. I asked if they’d like to come along to the airport, and they agreed eagerly. While waiting for our newest neighbor to arrive, I watched as the two young men hid behind some garbage cans. Our new friend came out of the gate, and they jumped out to surprise him! He was shocked and amused, but most importantly, relieved at the sight of smiling, familiar faces.
A few years ago, I participated in a panel of professionals engaged in global work at IU Bloomington. After the panel discussion, students were given the opportunity to chat one-on-one with the panelists. I was approached that evening by two students who introduced themselves as former Exodus clients. They reported they were both the first in their families to attend university. Though I hadn’t met them before that night, I was beyond proud to be a part of an organization that welcomed them to the US and to see their path to a bright future, paved in part by the opportunities afforded through the refugee resettlement program.
Working in resettlement is a privilege. To the volunteers who have inspired me with your kindness and hospitality, I thank you. To the colleagues I call family, I thank you. To the clients who have taught me faith, courage and hope beyond measure, I thank you. I am glad you’re here.