Chris Johns, former Editor in Chief of National Geographic magazine, currently teaches journalism at Oregon State University. In 2020, he was a Pollner Professor at the University of Montana’s School of Journalism. Chris and Elizabeth, his wife, moved to Missoula, Montana in 2017 as he led the National Geographic Society’s Beyond Yellowstone Program – an initiative that promoted wildlife connectivity across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Prior to that, he served as Chief Content Officer, overseeing the expression of National Geographic’s editorial content across multiple media platforms. He was the ninth Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine from January 2005 to April 2014. During his editorship Johns’ focus on excellence in photography, cartography and reporting was recognized with 23 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors. In 2008 Johns was named Magazine Editor of the Year and in 2011 National Geographic was named Magazine of the Year.
Born in southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, Johns has a long interest in wildlife, conservation, indigenous cultures and ranching. When he was a National Geographic staff photographer, much of his work focused on conversation issues in North America and Africa – particularly humankind co-existing with apex predators. I addition to his magazine assignments, Johns’ books include “Wild at Heart: Man and Beast in Southern Africa” (Forward by Nelson Mandela, 2002), “Valley of Life: Africa’s Great Rift” (Forward by Patrick Hemingway, 1991), and “Hawaii’s Hidden Treasures” (1993).
Johns was awarded an honorary doctorate from Indiana University in 2010. He studied photojournalism at the University of Minnesota and holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism with a minor in agriculture from Oregon State University.