U.S. Ambassador to Swaziland to Speak at WSU

PULLMAN, Wash. — The U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland, Gregory Lee Johnson, a 1967 WSU graduate, will be on the Pullman campus Sept. 25 to meet with students and present a talk. Johnson’s address, “Resolving Conflict in Southern Africa,” is set for 3:10 p.m. in the Compton Union Building’s Cascade Rooms. At 2:15 p.m., he will meet in the CUB, Room 125 with students interested in careers in the Foreign Service.

In December 1999, he was sworn in as ambassador to the small, southern African country, the last on the 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,” Johnson said. “The Swazi government must satisfy the rising demands in the country for greater democracy.”

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Johnson joined the Service in 1968. His 30-year professional career has included overseas posts at the U.S. Missions in Vietnam, Japan, Somalia, Brazil, Russia, Sweden and Canada. His tours have included assignments to the bureaus of intelligence and research and personnel bureaus, as well as to the U.S. Army War College and the Senior Executive Seminar.

Johnson has received numerous awards during his career, most recently the Department of State’s Meritorious Honor Award for his work at the American Embassy in Stockholm.

Both Johnson and his wife, Lyla Charles Johnson, are graduates of WSU. Gregory earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1967 and later received a master’s degree in international relations from American University, Washington, D.C. Lyla’s 1968 WSU degree is in education. Both are Washington natives and graduated from Seattle high schools; he from Franklin and she from Garfield. Johnson is the fourth WSU graduate to serve as an U.S. ambassador.