Intern Spotlight: Johnny Hanley

Many college students and recent graduates look to volunteerism and nonprofits as a means to gain experience and bolster their resumes.  For Learning Life intern John Charles Hanley (who goes by Johnny), however, non-profit work is not just a temporary stop on the road to a career, but his intended path in life.

A native of Virginia, Johnny attended James Madison University, majoring in Justice Studies and minored in Interdisciplinary Religion, becoming President of the JMU Freethinkers and an active member of the Vietnamese Student Association.  Johnny’s studies and independent reading spurred his interest in “using research in positive psychology to challenge the way our society thinks about happiness and meaningful relationships.”  He hopes to start a non-profit to pursue this interest.

Johnny HanleyAccordingly, Johnny has taken internships with non-profits to learn about how they work, starting with Virginia Organizing.  As Johnny explains, Virginia Organizing is “an organization that encourages those who have traditionally had little or no voice in our society to participate in issues that directly affect the quality of their lives,” from predatory lending to Social Security.  With Virginia Organizing, Johnny helped organize grassroots events and projects, encouraged Virginia voters to become politically active, managed information tables to engage citizens on key issues, and represented the organization in meetings with local politicians.

Johnny started interning with Learning Life in October this year, working thus far primarily to help inform northern Virginia residents of our “buy local, learn local” holiday program through research, email and door-to-door outreach.  Asked why he is interning with Learning Life, Johnny responds, “I volunteered with Learning Life because I am passionate about education as a tool for social change. I want to learn how to bring knowledge to a diverse audience because I hope to one day work to empower people with educational content.”

When he is not interning with Learning Life, Johnny is training to become a violin teacher.  He has been playing violin since he was seven years old and hopes to use his expertise to earn a little extra cash and help people learn to play the instrument.  But all this is preface to an exciting adventure on which Johnny will soon embark: around April 2014, Johnny will be moving to Cape Town, South Africa to join his girlfriend, who will soon be pursuing international development studies there.

We at Learning Life are grateful for Johnny’s work with us, look forward to working with him in the first months of 2014, and wish him the best in his move to South Africa and his developing career in non-profit education!

To learn more about interning or volunteering with Learning Life and other ways you can help, contact us at