Joung-ah joined the humanitarian sector 27 years ago, working for Refugees International during the Bosnian conflict. But her roots in displacement are part of her own personal history as both her parents were internally displaced or relocated by war. She joined UNHCR in 1997 as Regional Public Information/Spokesperson for the Rwandan Refugee Crisis, then the Kosovo Emergency, and then based in as Senior Regional Communications Officer for the US and the Caribbean based in Washington, DC.
Joung-ah was also UNHCR’s Coordinator for Reintegration in Eritrea from 2000-2002. And in 2014 she helped co-create and launch UNHCR’s Global Campaign to End Statelessness. She was seconded to the Europe Bureau during the 2015 refugee crisis to guide their communications efforts. She led UNHCR’s global Emergency Private Sector Fundraising before moving to New York, to head up UNHCR’s Global Communications Desk, and in July 2020 arrived in Geneva to take up her current role as Head of the Global Communications Service at UNHCR Headquarters.
She took a career break to be a full-time mother and part-time yoga teacher and writer while she and her family lived in Thailand for a few wonderful years. She speaks English, French, Italian, Korean and Spanish and has been published and featured widely in the media. She has guest lectured at the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre, Princeton and Yale Universities, and regularly represents UNHCR at public events.