Ambassador Johnnie Carson serves as a Senior Advisor to the president of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a position he assumed in May 2013. Prior to joining USIP, Ambassador Carson served as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs from May 2009 to April 2013. Ambassador Carson was the National Intelligence Officer for Africa at the National Intelligence Council from 2006 until 2009.
Ambassador Carson retired from the Foreign Service with the rank of Career Minister in 2006 after serving for 37 years. During his Foreign Service career, Ambassador Carson held a number of senior assignments, including 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). Following the bombings at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998, Ambassador Carson headed the State Department task force established to respond to that crisis. After the completion of that assignment, he was appointed U.S. ambassador to Kenya. Earlier in his career he held assignments as Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge in Botswana (1986-1990), deputy chief of the political section in Portugal (1982-1986), Deputy Chief of Mission in Mozambique (1975-1978), and Consular and Political officer in Nigeria (1969-1971). He has also served as desk officer for Portuguese Africa in the State Department’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).
From 2003 until 2006, Ambassador served as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University.
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, a Meritorious Service Award from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and a Meritorious Service Award from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Centers for Disease Control presented Ambassador Carson with its highest award, “Champion of Prevention Award,” for his leadership in directing the U.S. Government’s HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya. He is a board member of the National Democratic Institute. Ambassador Carson and his wife, Anne Diemer Carson, have three children and several grandchildren.