Michael Johnson | Barbara J. Smith

Head OECD Forum, OECD

About Michael Johnson | Barbara J. Smith

Michael is a Senior Program Associate, Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center. He oversees The Carter Center’s role as Mali Independent Observer, among other critical assignments.

Before starting at The Carter Center, Michael was on contract as a Project Manager with Sheladia Associates, Inc., an international development consultancy located in Washington, DC. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a Political Affairs Officer with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali where he analyzed the ongoing political and security situation in Mali and provided strategic advisory services to the Mission on courses of action. Michael has spent most of his 15-year career overseas with bilateral and multilateral development organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, the United States Agency for International Development and the World Bank Group.

A native of Colorado, Michael has lived, worked, studied and/or visited over 35 countries, including, France, Spain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Morocco, South Sudan, Mali, Kenya, Senegal, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands, Tunisia, South Africa, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guyana, and many more. He speaks English, French, Arabic, and some Spanish.

Michael holds a master’s degree in International Affairs: Comparative and Regional Studies, Middle East/Africa and International Development from the American University, a bachelor of arts in Political Science, Economics, and History from the University of Colorado, and is a member of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, the United States Fulbright Association and a founding member of the United States Congressional Hunger Center’s Small Grants Committee (he received an Alumni Leadership Award from the Center in 2016).


Barbara Smith oversees the Carter Center’s democracy, human rights, conflict resolution, and rule of law programs, which operate projects and observe elections in countries across the globe.

Before coming to The Carter Center in September 2020, Smith was principal and founder of the international development consulting firm Mountain Time Development. She also was a senior associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, focused on the Human Rights Initiative, conducting field work and research on civil society. Her wide-ranging career also includes assignments at the United States Agency for International Development and with the National Security Council in the White House.

At USAID, Smith held a number of positions, most recently as deputy assistant to the administrator in the Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Learning. She also co-led the team that created the seminal USAID 2013 Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Strategy, which is applied across the approximately 100 countries where USAID works. Other positions she held at USAID included senior policy analyst, deputy coordinator for Middle East Transition Response during the Arab Spring, and senior field advisor for democracy and governance.

Smith served on the National Security Council as a director for Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs and as senior director for governance and law at the Asia Foundation. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, she was a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. In Afghanistan, she was assistant country representative for the Asia Foundation, where she also directed the foundation’s efforts to assist Afghanistan in holding its first post-Taliban elections.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in political science from Texas State University.

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