Brett Johnson is an accomplished leader who has managed large and diverse teams in the US and globally. He has worked in over 25 countries, conducting long-term assignments in Southern Africa and Northern Macedonia.
Brett has an extensive experience in a variety of funder and client contexts, including U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and corporate partners such as Mars Inc, Microsoft, and PepsiCo. He offers actionable insights to inform and advance efforts on the part of donor and corporate clients to achieve business and social outcomes through collaboration at the local and global level.
Brett is currently the Project Director for the Alliance for eTrade Development, a Global Development Alliance (GDA) between USAID and 12 leading private sector partners. The Alliance mobilises collective capabilities, networks, and programs to accelerate developing country MSMEs' use of e-commerce, including cross-border trade through SME e-commerce upskilling, onboarding, and mentoring, policy dialogue, and e-commerce ecosystem solutions.
Brett's previous experience includes serving as the Director/Portfolio Lead for Palladium: Make It Possible, where he managed business development and technical delivery on USAID and other donor programs focused on private sector engagement (PSE), economic growth, competitiveness, private sector development, trade and investment, finance, agriculture/food security, resilience and market system development. He has also worked as Managing Director, Growth and Technical Services, and Director, Inclusive Markets, for Resonance.
Brett holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
After his BA in Government and African Studies from St. Lawrence University, and MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Brett joined US Export Import Bank in 2001 as an intern. He carried out country risk analysis for the U.S. Government's ICRAS rating system.
In 2001, he joined Manchester Trade as an Associate, and in 2002, he became the Economist at The Louis Berger Group.
As an Economist at CARANA Corporation, which he joined in 2003, Brett contributed to projects related to inclusive economic growth and job creation, trade and investment promotion and post-disaster recovery with extensive field work in the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. In 2009, he became the AGOA Trade and Business Manager, a core staff member on regional export development project that contributed to business pipeline exceeding $40 million for apparel, agriculture and specialty food companies based in Southern Africa. He managed the project’s market linkages portfolio, including conceptualisation of market linkage strategies, developing and nurturing relationships with commercial farmers, specialty food businesses, manufacturers and international buyers to develop lasting sourcing relationships. He also worked with an international investor to carry out a feasibility analysis for chili pepper investment in Mozambique.
As the Global Practice and Market Strategy Advisor at CARANA Corporation, he was based in Skopje, Macedonia. He was the core staff member on project engaging North Macedonian businesses, organisations and government officials and global partners to drive business growth. Brett led strategic planning, relationship management, budgeting, technical implementation, and communications. He contributed to management of project’s ‘financial platform’, which facilitated over $80 million in financing for small and medium enterprises. Brett was awarded “Innovative Ways of Donor Coordination to Leverage USG Funds” by Mission Director.
As an Investment Advisor on an assignment with USAID Private Capital Group for Africa )(PCGA), Brett led the team for a series of workshops entitled “Leveraging Private Capital for Development in Africa” designed to help USAID Mission staff in Africa operationalise opportunities to engage corporate and financial sector partners and leverage private capital across USAID priority areas. The activities involved missions to Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa to identify innovative ways to leverage capital in USAID projects and engaging over 60 private capital partners (e.g. strategic commercial partners, banks, impact funds, equity funds) whose ‘bottom lines’ are aligned with USAID development objectives.
In 2011, Brett became the Global Practice and Market Linkages Advisor at CARANA Corporation. He contributed to project management, technical coordination, and implementation of engagements focused on mobilising finance, agriculture and food security, workforce development and export development with a focus on activities building relationships and partnerships leveraging private sector resources and initiatives. Brett developed innovative approaches to facilitate investment by banks, impact funds, equity funds, and strategic partners across multiple sectors to achieve scalable and sustainable development impacts. He led scoping missions to Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia to identify ways to leverage private capital within USAID. Brett also received CARANA’s “Presidential Award” in 2012 in recognition of exceptional performance.
In 2014, he joined Resonance, where he led the project supporting USAID efforts to collaboration with multi-national and local business partners to accelerate and sustain impact worldwide. He provided field-based strategy support to USAID in Albania, Haiti, Nepal, and Zambia.
Brett became the Director of Inclusive Markets in 2013, while being at Resonance, to lead the direction and growth of Inclusive Markets Practice, managing rapid revenue and staff growth over seven years. He led design and delivery of innovative training on development finance for PepsiCo’s Sustainable Agriculture Team, and led partnership co-creation (resulting in new initiatives) focused on CTIP and WEE with PepsiCo, Mars Inc, and Microsoft, while advising on corporate sustainability engagements with Cargill and Unilever. He also led engagements with USAID clients in Albania, Ghana, Haiti, Nepal, Timor Leste, Uganda, West Africa and Zambia designed to identify and operationalise opportunities to deliver impact through public-private collaboration.
In 2020, he was the Managing Director of Growth and Technical Services at Resonance. He led Resonance's government services business growth strategy and drive technical excellence in cross-sector services in partnerships and collaboration, innovation and enterprise services, innovative finance, gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) and MEL/impact measurement. He also supervised the Business Development and Technical Services teams, while providing technical leadership to new service development and engagements with USAID and corporate clients.
In 2021, Brett joined Palladium as its Director and Portfolio Lead. He led, supported, and manageed business development and technical delivery on USAID and other donor programs focused on private sector engagement (PSE), economic growth, competitiveness, private sector development, trade and investment, finance, agriculture/food security, resilience and market system development.
Currently, he is the Project Director at the eTrade Alliance, where he provides strategic leadership and incubates partnerships for the Alliance for eTrade Development, a Global Development Alliance (GDA) between USAID and 12 leading private sector partners, and supported by implementing partners Palladium and Nextrade Group. The partners of the Alliance include Google, DHL, UPS, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Etsy, Element, ROAM, Google, Cargill and the E Commerce Institute. It mobilises our collective capabilities, networks an programs to accelerate developing country MSMEs' use of ecommerce, including for cross-border trade through SME ecommerce upskilling, onboarding, and mentoring, policy dialogue, and ecommerce ecosystem solutions.
Brett is a solutions-oriented leader with a track record of driving business growth and managing large, diverse, and impact-driven teams in the U.S. and globally, focused on accelerating and sustaining impact through public-private collaboration, innovation and enterprise growth. He brings curiosity and a growth mindset, along with a unique combination of a culture-first management approach, business acumen, technical versatility, and expertise in business development and portfolio management.
Through the development of partnership playbooks, strategic analyses and stakeholder engagement, he offers actionable insights to inform and advance efforts on the part of donor and corporate clients to achieve business and social outcomes through collaboration at the local and global level. Brett offers a collaborative approach to leadership, focused on empowering and mentoring mid- and junior-level staff, building consensus to drive effective decision-making, and preparing young leaders for successful careers in social impact and global development.