John Cardenas

Speeches Shim

John Cardenas
Mission Director

Mr. John Cardenas is a member of the Senior Foreign Service and the Mission Director for USAID/Iraq. He has principal responsibility for the $1.2 billion in obligated funds in active development and stabilization programs. Prior to assuming his role as Mission Director, Mr. Cardenas served as USAID/Iraq Deputy Mission Director from 2019 to 2020 based in Erbil, overseeing over $450 million in stabilization programming focused on the safe return of religious and ethnic minorities in the northern region of Iraq.

From 2016 to 2019, Mr. Cardenas served as the Director for the Office of North African and Arabian Affairs in the Middle East Bureau in USAID/Washington where he led a multi-country portfolio team responsible for desk officer and technical field support to USAID missions in Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco. Coordinating USAID strategic approaches within interagency policy dialogue for these countries, Mr. Cardenas has demonstrated expertise in development and humanitarian assistance programming in non-presence and conflict environments.

Mr. Cardenas served as the USAID/Afghanistan Deputy Mission Director in Kabul from 2015-2016, with responsibility for managing the Mission’s $1.2 billion Infrastructure portfolio as well as the offices of Agriculture, Economic Growth, and Acquisition and Assistance. In that role he chaired the Mission’s counter-terrorism vetting program, the water working group, and the Almaty Consensus working group. He previously served as the Resident Legal Officer in Afghanistan (2014), Peru (2009-2014) and Egypt (2005-2009). With over 16 years of USAID experience, he has received several Agency awards for bilateral negotiations involving privileges and immunities issues in Egypt and Bolivia, and was a leader in piloting procurement reform activities across USAID missions in South America.

Prior to joining USAID, he was a corporate transactional lawyer at Melveny and Myers in Los Angeles. He holds an A.B., magna cum laude, from Princeton University; and M.A. (Political Science) and J.D. degrees from Stanford University.