Johnnie Carson

Senior Advisor to the President

Ambassador Johnnie Carson was sworn in as assistant secretary of state for the bureau of African affairs, on May 7, 2009. Prior to this he was the national intelligence officer for Africa at the National Intelligence Council, after serving as the senior vice president of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. (2003-2006).

Carson's 37-year 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). 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 U.S. House of Representatives (1979-1982).

Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 1965-1968. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Drake University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the School of Oriental and Africa Studies at the University of London.

Ambassador 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 U.S. Government's HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya.

Articles & Analysis by this Expert

August 6, 2014
George E. Moose, Johnnie Carson, Jon Temin

President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will be a success to the extent that it updates the perception of Africa’s economic, political and social potential without underestimating the remaining problems of violence, dictatorship and corruption, according to two former assistant secretaries of state for African Affairs.


July 3, 2014
Fiona Mangan, George Lopez, Johnnie Carson
May 23, 2014
Johnnie Carson, Kristin Lord, Princeton N. Lyman

In the News

October 31, 2014

“I think what has happened in sub-Saharan Africa is entirely different from what has been happening in the Arab world,” said Ambassador Johnnie Carson, senior adviser to the president of the U.S. Institute of Peace and former U.S. assistant secretary ...