Ambassador Johnnie Carson joined the NDI board after a 37-year career in the foreign service. Most recently he was the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of African Affairs. Immediately prior 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).
His career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997) and Uganda (1991-1994); and he was 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 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). Ambassador Carson was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania (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 him with its highest award, "Champion of Prevention Award," for his leadership in directing the U.S. government's HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya.