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Stephen Johnson

Senior Advisor

Stephen Johnson currently serves as senior advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean at IRI, where he is responsible for strategic guidance, thought leadership, public outreach and government relations. 

Johnson has more than 30 years of experience in Western Hemisphere affairs policymaking, policy advocacy and public affairs with the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, the Washington think tank community, and the U.S. Air Force.  For six years, Johnson was IRI’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and before that, a senior fellow and director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He also served as an adjunct professor of Latin American studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. 

From 2007 to 2009, Johnson was deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs. At the Pentagon, he oversaw the development and execution of policies, strategies and programs governing hemispheric defense and security ties, involving two regional combat commands and three military academic institutions. 

From 1999 to 2006, Johnson worked as a senior foreign policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, testifying before Congress and authoring studies on U.S. Latin America policy as well as, trade, development, security, and public diplomacy.  Johnson has spoken at numerous conferences in the United States and in Latin America.  His commentaries have appeared in The Wall Street JournalThe Miami Herald, Business Week and Diario Las Américas.  His broadcast appearances include National Public Radio, CNN, CNN en Español, Fox News, Oppenheimer Presenta, NTN-24, and the Voice of America. 

Johnson also worked in the bureaus of Inter-American affairs and public affairs at the U.S. Department of State.  A retired Air Force officer, he was a pilot and a military attaché on active duty.  As a member of the Air Force Reserve, he served in the office of public affairs of the Secretary of the Air Force and at U.S. Southern Command. 

Johnson has lived in El Salvador, Honduras, Uruguay, and observed elections in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama. He is a fluent Spanish speaker.