PULLMAN, Wash. — Gregory Lee Johnson, the U.S. Ambassador to
Swaziland, received the Washington State University Alumni Achievement
Award Sept. 25, while visiting the Pullman campus. The 1968 graduate in
political science returned to WSU to present an address on “Resolving
Conflict in Southern Africa.” He also talked with students interested in
pursuing careers in the U.S. Foreign Service.
Johnson was recognized by his alma mater for bringing distinction to WSU
during more than three decades with the U.S. Foreign Service.
Swaziland is the last country on the African continent to be governed as a
traditional, albeit modified, monarchy. Political parties have been legally
banned there since 1973, although an elected parliament exists.
“Swaziland is a tiny kingdom that we want to help make a smooth transition to
democracy,” said Johnson, who was appointed to his current post last
December. “The Swazi government must satisfy the rising demands in the
country for greater democracy.”
Johnson joined the Foreign Service in 1968, after completing a degree in
political science at WSU the same year. He also holds a master’s degree in
international relations from American University in Washington, D.C.
During his professional career, he has served overseas at U.S. posts in
Vietnam, Japan, Somalia, Brazil, Russia, Sweden and Canada. His tours have
included assignments with Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and
Research, and the Personnel Bureau, as well as at the U.S. Army War College
and the Senior Executive Seminar.
Prior to his current assignment, he served as Consul General of the United
States in Toronto. He speaks Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and
Vietnamese. He has received numerous awards during his career, including the
Department of State’s Meritorious Honor Award for his work at the American
Embassy in Stockholm.
Johnson’s wife, the former Lyla Charles, is also a WSU graduate. She earned a
degree in education in 1968. Both are from Seattle.
Johnson is the fourth WSU alumnus to serve as U.S. Ambassador. The others
were John Clifford Folger (’14 Hort.), Belgium (1957-59); Virginia Schafer (’52
Home Ec.), Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (1981-84); and John M.
Yates (x’62), Cameron.