Charles N. Johnson ’56

2006 Distinguished Citizen Award

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For 40 years, Charles N. Johnson has helped families achieve better lives through his work in international family planning and health. Advancing from intern to chief of the Health, Population and Nutrition Division of the Asia and Near East Bureau, he provided policy, technical and management guidance through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He earned a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University and a master’s in public health from the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. During his four-year stints in Indonesia and Chile, those countries saw dramatic success in slowing population growth. "What challenging work," wrote classmate Darrel Gubrud, "yet Charles was always upbeat and of good cheer in this difficult pursuit."

Following his service with USAID, Johnson worked as a consultant designing population and HIV/AIDS programs for Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Mozambique and the Philippines. He designed and evaluated programs to assist people injured by landmines under the USAID-managed War Victims Fund.

"Charles Johnson has been an exemplary ambassador for Macalester College around the world," wrote classmate David Bebb Jones. "Devoted to the health and welfare of women and families, he has put into lifelong practice the principles of political science and history learned at Macalester."

Johnson’s career of service began in 1959 as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in Vienna, rebuilding a school, and in Paris, coordinating volunteers for European work camps. At the Vienna Opera House, he met Nancy, who later became Mrs. Johnson. In addition to volunteering as a National Archives docent, Charles Johnson has served as class agent and now serves on the Alumni Board and is co-chair of his class gift committee.