Tacoma Rescue Mission announces new director

The Rescue Mission has hired a new executive director after more than a year of searching.

Mike Johnson’s first day will be Dec. 1, rescue mission development manager Deanna Dargan said Friday. He was chosen from four finalists after an extensive interview process that involved all staff at the mission, she said.

Johnson, 45, has spent the past seven years at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, where he served as the special projects director and the men’s shelter director. He has a bachelor’s degree from Abilene Christian University in Texas, and a master’s from Pepperdine University. From 1990 to 1994, Johnson served in the Army Rangers. He and his wife, Dena, have been married for 23 years and are parents to seven adopted children, three of whom were born in Tacoma, according to a news release.

Johnson will be featured in a documentary film, “Climb Out of Homelessness,” that followed a group of recovery program participants as they train and attempt to summit Mount Rainier, the release said.

Tacoma native Brian Sonntag has served as interim director of the mission since David Curry left in July 2013 to become the new CEO of Open Doors USA, a Christian advocacy organization based in California.

The board did not release details of Johnson’s compensation Friday.

Sonntag will be available to Johnson for a month, and then he will retire, Dargan said.

The Rescue Mission officially opened its door on March 11, 1912, under the name The Tacoma Commons. The group offered food and shelter to homeless or otherwise struggling men.

The organization changed its name to the Tacoma Rescue Mission, then in 2010 took out the “Tacoma” to reflect its countywide presence. In addition to its Tacoma locations, the mission has facilities in Fife, Lakewood and the Puyallup-Sumner area.

In 2013, it served nearly 325,000 meals and housed tens of thousands of people.