Johnny Young (diplomat)

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Johnny Young
Johnny Young, US Ambassador to Slovenia 2002.jpg
11th United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone
In office
November 29, 1989 – July 23, 1992
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Cynthia Shepard Perry
Succeeded by Lauralee M. Peters[1]
14th United States Ambassador to Togo
In office
October 7, 1994 – November 21, 1997
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Harmon Elwood Kirby
Succeeded by Brenda Schoonover
12th United States Ambassador to Bahrain
In office
December 11, 1997 – September 29, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by David M. Ransom
Succeeded by Ronald E. Neumann
4th United States Ambassador to Slovenia
In office
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Nancy Halliday Ely-Raphel
Succeeded by Thomas Bolling Robertson
Personal details
Born (1940-02-06) February 6, 1940 (age 77)
Savannah, Georgia
Spouse(s) Angelena Young
Profession Diplomat

Johnny Young was born on February 6, 1940 in Savannah, Georgia and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1967 to 2001, Young served within the US Department of State, including his appointment as United States Ambassador in West Africa, the Middle East and Central Europe. Young was appointed Career Ambassador in 2004[2] and later worked as a private consultant, contractor and lecturer.[3]


Young graduated cum laude from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in 1966, with a major in accounting and a minor in Spanish. He was later the recipient of the Obermayer Award presented annually to an outstanding graduate of the Philadelphia School Board in 1990. He was accepted into the FELS Institute of State and Local Government at the University of Pennsylvania prior to joining the Foreign Service.


After working for six and a half years for the City of Philadelphia, Johnny Young began his career with the Foreign Service in 1967. He received a position as Budget and Fiscal Officer in Antananarivo, Madagascar followed by assignments in 1970 and 1972 as supervisory General Services Officer in Conakry, Guinea and Nairobi, Kenya. In 1974, he was transferred to Doha, Qatar to provide administrative support to the newly expanded American embassy and the first American ambassador to Qatar.[citation needed] While in Qatar, Young served as Administrative Officer and Charge d' Affaires. He was later assigned as the Administrative Counselor for Bridgetown, Barbados.

In 1979, Young returned to Washington, DC as Career Development Officer in the Bureau of Personnel. This was followed by a position as Executive Director for the Office of the Inspector General in 1981. Young then left in 1983 to be Administrative Counselor in Amman, Jordan; and in 1985 served at The Hague, Netherlands. In 1988, he was selected for assignment to the Senior Seminar.[4]

Between the late 1980s to early 2000, Young served as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1989-1992), Togo (1994-1997), Bahrain, (1997-2001), and Slovenia (2001-2004).[2] During his time as ambassador to Slovenia he concentrated on two major goals: (1) to continue the cooperation that the US and Slovenia have in a wide range of international fora and over a wide range of issues; and (2) to work with Slovenia in making it the best candidate possible for entry into NATO and the European Union.[5]

Post-Diplomatic Career[edit]

Upon his retirement from the Foreign Service in 2005, Young worked as a private consultant and lecturer until August, 2007. From August 2007 to February 2015, Johnny Young served as Executive Director of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. MRS is the largest non-governmental refugee resettlement organization in the world. In addition to refugee resettlement, it provided services to undocumented and unaccompanied minor children in U.S. Government custody; worked in anti-trafficking and provided advocacy for these activities, as well as for the undocumented. It had a budget of eighty-five million dollars and a staff of over one hundred employees. Since 1975 MRS has partnered with the U.S. Government in resettling approximately one million refugees of the three million admitted to the United States during that time.

Awards and Honors[edit]

Ambassador Young has received three cash awards for performance: the Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, two Group Honor Awards and a Presidential Meritorious Service Award. He was also involved with Operation "Sharp Edge" which was responsible for U.S. support and evacuation efforts during the First Liberian Civil War. In addition, he received a Superior Group Award for serving as part of the Sierra Leone mission for their assistance in evacuating U.S. citizens following the coup in Freetown in April 1992.

Committee and Board Participation[edit]

Prior to 2015, Ambassador Young served on the following boards :

He presently contributes his services to the following organizations:

  • The International Conservatory of Music
  • The Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs
  • The American Bahrain Friendship Society
  • The American Slovene Educational Foundation
  • Council on International Educational Exchange
  • Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club
  • Rotary International Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS)

Published Work and Interviews[edit]

Johnny Young is the author of the oral history From the Projects to the Palace: A Diplomat’s Unlikely Journey from the Bottom to the Top, published in 2013 by Xlibris Corporation.[3] In 2013, Young was also interviewed by BBC for his account of the conflict between Portugal and Conakry, Guinea in 1970.[6] He also led the delegation that developed the report Refuge & Hope in the Time of ISIS and authored "Pitching in to Do Vital Work" (see citations below)(Young, 2016; USCCB, 2015).

Contributed Works

Young, J. (April 2016). Pitching in to do vital work. The Foreign Service Journal, pp. 36-38. American Foreign Service Association. Retrieved from

USCCB. (January 2015). Refuge & hope in the time of ISIS. A Report of the Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved from


He is married to Angelena Young and has 2 children.[7] He currently resides with his wife Angelena in Kensington, Maryland.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website (Background Notes).

Further reading[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Cynthia Shepard Perry
United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone
Succeeded by
Lauralee M. Peters
Preceded by
Harmon Elwood Kirby
United States Ambassador to Togo
Succeeded by
Brenda Schoonover
Preceded by
David M. Ransom
United States Ambassador to Bahrain
Succeeded by
Ronald E. Neumann
Preceded by
Nancy Halliday Ely-Raphel
United States Ambassador to Slovenia
Succeeded by
Thomas Bolling Robertson