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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs
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OIA’s James R. Johnson Retiring



(WASHINGTON, D.C., May 27, 2005) James R. Johnson, Director of Technical Assistance programs for the Office of Insular Affairs, announced his retirement from Federal service effective June 2, 2005. Johnson, who has a total of 37 years of service with the Federal Government, including 26 years with the Department of the Interior, says his primary goals in retirement are to travel, fish and enjoy the fruits of his years of hard work.

Johnson started working as a systems accountant for the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) in 1979, when it was known at the Office of Territorial and International Affairs. In 1997, he was appointed Director of Technical Assistance, where he has managed millions of dollars in annual Federal grants to the seven insular areas under OIA's jurisdiction.

David B. Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Interior, said that Johnson's retirement is a major loss for the Office and for the insular areas. "Jim is well loved in the islands, and for good reason. He is thoroughly professional in his work, with a keen understanding of the islands and their unique needs for technical assistance. In all of this, he has remained self-effacing and humble, despite his many talents. When someone of Jim's professional stature, length of service and experience leaves, you never can truly replace what they know and do. All of us will miss Jim very much."

Nik Pula, Director of the Office of Insular Affairs, agreed: "All of us at OIA wish him the best of happiness in the future, there is no question that Jim has an invaluable depth of knowledge about technical assistance grants and key contacts with island leaders, second to none. He is able to juggle local island priorities with the difficult realities of managing a limited and much-needed Federal grants program to ensure that the island governments received equitable treatment.We will miss his quiet and affable demeanor, especially his soft-spoken way in articulating his views. "

James Johnson is a native of St. George, South Carolina, and is the third of five children born to the late Floyd and Gradie Johnson. An excellent student, Jim graduated from high school at 16 and received a B.S. degree in Business Administration and Accounting from South Carolina State University, in Orangeburg, S.C. in 1968.

Shortly after he was graduated, Jim accepted a job with the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. A few months later, he was drafted into the Army, which sent him to Vietnam and later to Germany. Jim says his fondness for the islands began when his military plane landed on Guam enroute to Vietnam. That experience left him with a desire to return to the islands, and he has traveled extensively to the insular areas, starting with his first official visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1980.

James is married to Emma and they have two sons, Terrence and Shawn. Johnson served as a coach to his son's basketball teams, when they were younger. He is a member of the Masonic Order and served as Vice President of the Department of the Interior's Chapter of Blacks in Government for several years. In May 1990, Johnson received a Points of Light Award for Outstanding Volunteer Contributions to America from then DOI Secretary Manual Lujan. He is a member, Sunday school teacher and Trustee at the Tried Stone Fire Baptized Holiness Church in Washington, D.C.

His wife Emma says that "my husband's philosophy is having substance, strength and love in everything you