President Obama on March 20 announced his intent to nominate career diplomat and three-time U.S. ambassador in Africa Johnnie Carson as the next U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
If confirmed by the Senate, Carson will succeed Jendayi Frazer, who served in the post during the Bush administration.
Carson is currently the national intelligence officer for Africa on the National Intelligence Council. He joined the council in September 2006 after a 37-year career in the foreign service. Prior to this appointment, Carson served as the senior vice president of the National Defense University in Washington from 2003 until 2006.
Carson's foreign service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997) and Uganda (1991-1994). He also served as principal deputy assistant secretary for the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs from 1997 through 1999. Earlier in his career, he served in Portugal, Botswana, Mozambique and Nigeria as well as in the Africa section of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
Before joining the foreign service, Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania. He holds an undergraduate degree in history and political science from Drake University and a master's degree in international relations from the University of London.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented Carson with its Champion of Prevention Award for his leadership in directing the U.S. government's HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya.
Senator Russ Feingold, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on African Affairs, called Carson's nomination "a strong choice."
"Carson is an accomplished career foreign service officer with an excellent track record on African issues spanning many decades and a range of positions," Feingold said. "Carson has a deep understanding of our diplomatic capacities and the importance of regular interagency collaboration. I look forward to considering his nomination and hearing how he and the administration plan to address the many challenges we face on the African continent."