Johnnie Carson

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Johnnie Carson
Ambassador Johnnie Carson (5506689976).jpg
17th United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
In office
May 7, 2009 – March 29, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJendayi Frazer
Phillip Carter (acting)
Succeeded byDonald Yamamoto
United States Ambassador to Kenya
In office
September 23, 1999 – July 6, 2003
PresidentBill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded byPrudence Bushnell
Succeeded byWilliam M. Bellamy
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe
In office
April 20, 1995 – July 25, 1997
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byEdward G. Lanpher
Succeeded byTom McDonald
United States Ambassador to Uganda
In office
September 18, 1991 – August 9, 1994
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded byJohn A. Burroughs, Jr.
Succeeded byE. Michael Southwick
Personal details
Born (1943-04-07) April 7, 1943 (age 76)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
ResidenceReston, Virginia, U.S.

Johnnie Carson (born April 7, 1943) is a diplomat from the United States who has served as United States Ambassador to several African nations. In 2009 he was nominated to become U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs by President Barack Obama. He resigned in 2013 after four years in the role and following the resignation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is currently a Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group and the United States Institute of Peace.


Carson was born April 7, 1943, in Chicago, Ill. Carson is married, has three children, and resides in Reston, Virginia. He graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in History and Political Science in 1965 and later obtained a Master of Arts in International Relations from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 1975.[1] Before joining the Foreign Service, Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 1965-1968.[1]

Foreign service career[edit]

Carson joined the United States National Intelligence Council as National Intelligence Officer for Africa in September 2006 after a 37-year career in Foreign Service. Prior to this appointment, Carson served as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington D.C. (2003–2006). Carson's Foreign Service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999–2003), Zimbabwe (1995–1997), and Uganda (1991–1994); and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (1997–1999).[1]

Earlier in his career he had assignments in Portugal (1982–1986), Botswana (1986–1990), Mozambique (1975–1978), and Nigeria (1969–1971). He has also served as desk officer in the Africa section at State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1971–1974); Staff Officer for the Secretary of State (1978–1979), and Staff Director for the Africa Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives (1979–1982).[1]

Carson is the recipient of several Superior Honor Awards from the Department of State and a Meritorious Service Award from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The Centers for Disease Control presented Ambassador Carson its highest award, "Champion of Prevention Award", for his leadership in directing the US Government's HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya.[1] Upon his departure from the assistant secretaryship, Carson was given accolades from the ambassadors of the ECOWAS countries, who together praised him for extraordinary efforts to bind the United States together with their countries.[2]

Assistant Secretary of State[edit]

Johnnie Carson (left), along with Colin Powell, Susan Rice, and R. Barrie Walkley, inaugurating the new US Embassy in Juba, South Sudan, July 9, 2011

In March 2009, Carson was nominated to become U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs by President Barack Obama.[3] In February 2013, Carson said of the Kenyan elections that the US wasn't officially backing any candidate, but "choices have consequences," reportedly contradicting President Obama's office after Obama said the decision was "up to the Kenyan people."[4][5]

In March 2013, it was reported that Carson would be stepping down from his post after serving for four years.[6] In May 2013, Carson joined the United States Institute of Peace as a senior adviser.[7] Carson also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute.[8]

On January 15, 2015, he urged increased engagement with Nigeria for both the US and European partners, to assist in maintaining stability in the light of the upcoming 2015 Nigerian general election, security problems in Northeastern Nigeria, and economic concerns regarding rising oil prices.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Biography of NIC members Archived 2012-06-10 at the Wayback Machine. National Intelligence Council, United States Directorate of National Intelligence. (2008). Retrieved 2009-03-21 Note: as this text was produced by a federal agency of the United States government, it is considered Public Domain. Portions may be used verbatim in this article
  2. ^ West Africa: Ecowas Envorys Honors U.S. Assistant Secretary of State. New Dawn (Liberia)|New Dawn 2013-03-29. Accessed 2013-03-30.
  3. ^ Africa: Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, State Department. The White House (Washington, DC) / 20 March 2009.
  4. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (7 March 2013). "Leader of Vote Count in Kenya Faces U.S. With Tough Choices". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  5. ^ "US Official Says Kenya's Elections Have 'Consequences'". VOA News. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  6. ^ "Johnnie Carson to step down as US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs". Jambo News. 30 March 2013. Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  7. ^ Ambassador Johnnie Carson Joins USIP, Will Continue Work on African Issues. U.S. Institute of Peace. May 24, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  8. ^ "NDI Board of Directors". Retrieved 2014-10-16.
  9. ^ Carson, Johnnie. Nigeria: Top U.S. Figure Calls for International Action On Nigeria. Accessed January 18, 2015

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John A. Burroughs, Jr.
United States Ambassador to Uganda
Succeeded by
E. Michael Southwick
Preceded by
Edward G. Lanpher
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe
Succeeded by
Tom McDonald
Preceded by
Prudence Bushnell
United States Ambassador to Kenya
Succeeded by
William M. Bellamy