National Space Society Governor Karlton Johnson Biography

Karlton Johnson

Karlton Johnson

Chairman, National Space Society Board of Governors


Karlton D. Johnson (Colonel, United States Air Force-Retired) is the Chairman of the National Space Society’s Board of Governors. In this capacity, he provides overall senior executive leadership to enhance the effectiveness and performance of the Board of Governors in support of the Society’s goals, imparts advice and guidance to the Board of Directors to enhance its conduct of business operations, and serves as the primary spokesperson for the Board of Governors.

Mr. Johnson is a senior executive and respected visionary leader with over 31 years of subject matter experience in strategic leadership and management, partnership creation, organizational excellence, enterprise risk management, cybersecurity and communications technologies (ICT). Over his long and distinguished career, he successfully developed solutions that enabled business transformation globally for large, multinational organizations. Recently he served as the Global Cyber and Data Risk Officer at Arconic Inc., a Global Fortune 500 company, leading all aspects of critical data risk management and protection, regulatory compliance, supply chain risk assessment, threat response and remediation for the company. He also held the position of Vice President, Business Development, Alcoa Defense in Washington, D.C. where he led all business development efforts for the air, space and combat support market segments, and was responsible for the development of strategy, execution of new business pursuits and the stewardship of existing relationships with defense prime contractors and the Department of Defense. Additionally, he represented Alcoa as a Council Member on the Aerospace Industries Association Space Council, supporting the coordination, formulation, and revision of positions on space policy, missions, systems, transportation, infrastructure, and related matters to foster U.S. leadership in space programs, technologies, space-enabled capabilities and systems.

In 2014, Mr. Johnson retired from USAF Active Duty after 26 years of honorable and selfless service. He has held a variety of challenging senior leadership and command positions in the Air Force, Joint and international communities to include space operational support, counterdrug missions, cyber support to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Joint Staff supporting Combatant Commanders via the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.

While serving at Onizuka AFB in California, he assumed communications support responsibility for 11 satellite remote tracking stations globally and enabled a record 37,000 satellite support actions with a zero-error rate reducing risks to U.S. space vehicles supporting national space programs. A decorated combat veteran, he previously served as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I/J6). Under his leadership, his Joint team conducted over 600 combined combat missions in hostile fire zones to build revolutionary ICT capabilities for the Iraqi Ministries of Defense, Interior, and the Counter Terrorism Bureau. He also served as the Commander of the 354th Mission Support Group, 354th Fighter Wing, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, where he led six squadrons providing combat capacity, capability, and mission-ready forces in direct support of US national interests worldwide. There, he directed DoD’s 9th largest JP-8 fuels depot and managed 770 facilities, 1,500 housing units, 63,000 acres of land and over $5.5 billion in assets. In his final posting, he served with distinction as the Senior U.S. military executive/CIO and lead cyberspace expert adviser to the 4-star Commander at United States Forces-Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea. As the Korean Peninsula’s senior U.S. cyber executive, he led elite Joint military, civilian and contract personnel in providing strategic oversight for all U.S. communications in the Republic of Korea supporting 28,000 military personnel, and he was the principal U.S. military liaison to Republic of Korea’s ICT and cyber organizations for bilateral cyberspace cooperation. His successes there include the creation of Korea’s first Joint Cyber Center, completed negotiation of two new international agreements leading to enhanced bilateral information sharing, and implementation of a $530 million Republic of Korea-wide modernization and investment strategy that was the largest military ICT upgrade for U.S. Forces in-country in 10 years.

Mr. Johnson has served in leadership positions on numerous Boards, and he also holds several Master’s Degrees and executive Graduate Certifications from various institutions to include George Washington University, National Defense University, West Virginia University, ISACA and the U.S. government.


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