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.

Publications By Johnnie

Surprise Election Ruling Raises Tension Over Kenya Vote

Surprise Election Ruling Raises Tension Over Kenya Vote

Friday, September 1, 2017

By: USIP Staff; Johnnie Carson; Susan Stigant; Aly Verjee

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for calm after the country’s Supreme Court annulled his re-election, citing “irregularities.” He said he would accept the court’s order for a new election, similarly to the decision last month by his opponent, Raila Odinga, to challenge the election results in court...

Democracy & Governance; Electoral Violence; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Nigeria Attacks Flare, Highlighting Fragility Before Elections

Nigeria Attacks Flare, Highlighting Fragility Before Elections

Friday, January 9, 2015

By: Viola Gienger; Johnnie Carson; Susan Stigant

A recent flare of attacks in northern Nigeria by the militant group Boko Haram illustrates the potential for more widespread unrest, especially as the country nears elections next month, and the trend highlights the need for political leaders to take action to prevent further violence, USIP experts say.

Violent Extremism; Justice, Security & Rule of Law; Electoral Violence; Fragility & Resilience

Taking a Stand With Kenya and Somalia

Taking a Stand With Kenya and Somalia

Monday, September 30, 2013

By: Johnnie Carson

Last weekend’s attack by al-Shabab militants on Westgate shopping mall in Kenya should be a wake-up call that more work is needed to stabilize Somalia and prevent it from falling back into another long period of chaos and famine.

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