Michelle D. Johnson

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Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson
United States Air Force
Michelle D. Johnson (3).jpg
U.S. Air Force Photo
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service1981–2017
RankLieutenant General
AwardsDefense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal

Michelle D. Johnson is a retired Lieutenant General in the United States Air Force and current Senior Vice President and Head of Referee Operations for the National Basketball Association.[1] She was the 19th Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, the first woman to lead a United States Department of Defense Service Academy. Her previous position was the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and Intelligence, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Casteau, Belgium. She was formerly the Director, Strategy, Policy, Programs and Logistics, U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base. She also served as the deputy director for information and cyberspace policy, Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate at the Pentagon. As an Air Force cadet, she was the first woman to serve as Cadet Wing Commander (the senior ranking cadet) at the United States Air Force Academy. Johnson played basketball for the Air Force Falcons women's basketball team.[2] She was twice named an Academic All-American and was inducted into the Academic All-American Hall of Fame in 2007, making her the first woman from the Academy and one of only six graduates with that distinction. Also, she was selected as the Academy's first woman Rhodes Scholar in her First Class (Senior) Year. Johnson was recognized as an Honorary Fellow of Brasenose College in 2013. She received the 2014 American Legion Auxiliary Woman of the Year Award.[3] Johnson was awarded a star (#42) on The Flag for Hope on June 18, 2016 in recognition of her outstanding military service.[4][5]

Education and training[edit]

Military career[edit]

Johnson attended pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona from May 1983 to July 1984, and completed her three-month C-141 qualification training at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma in October of that year.

Her command assignments included the 9th Air Refueling Squadron, the 97th Operations Group and the 22d Air Refueling Wing. She commanded a deployed air refueling squadron in Operation Southern Watch and an air refueling wing in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She has served as the Air Force aide to the President, and as an Assistant Professor of Political Science, instructor pilot, and Associate Air Officer Commanding at the United States Air Force Academy.

On August 12, 2013, Johnson assumed command as superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy. She was the first woman to hold the position.[6] Johnson retired from the Air Force in October 2017.

Johnson has more than 3,600 flying hours in C-141, T-41, KC-10, C-17, C-5 Galaxy and KC-135 aircraft.


Following her retirement from the Air Force, Johnson was appointed as Senior Vice President and Head of Referee Operations for the NBA on October 12, 2017. She assumed her new position on October 16, 2017. Her duties include overseeing the recruitment, training, development, and evaluation of NBA referees, as well as the NBA Replay center.[1]

Promotion history[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Michelle D. Johnson named NBA Senior Vice President and Head of Referee Operations". NBA. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Profile with Michelle Johnson". The Rhodes Project. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  3. ^ Baillie, Amber (2014-09-02). "Academy supt. honored as ALA Woman of the Year". United States Air Force Academy. Archived from the original on 2014-09-11. Retrieved 2014-09-09.
  4. ^ "Lietenant General Michelle Johnson – Flag for Hope Star #42". Flag for Hope. 2016-10-13. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  5. ^ http://coloradosprings.com/saluting-the-flag-and-all-it-stands-for/article/1579636
  6. ^ "First woman slated to lead Air Force Academy". USA Today. March 1, 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.

External links[edit]