HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.


Douglas A. Johnson began his career as a human rights activist while earning his undergraduate degree in philosophy (1975) at Macalester College in the United States. He lived at Gandhi’s ashram in India to study nonviolent organizing (1969 to 1970). He served as the director of the Third World Institute in Minneapolis, MN, USA (1973–1979), which functioned as the international social justice program of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Johnson’s work included creating and running a political collective; leading development study tours into villages in Guatemala and Honduras; and investigating how transnational companies (e.g., Nestlé) were penetrating the developing world. He was the co-founder of the Infant Formula Action Coalition (INFACT), elected national chairperson (1977–1985), and appointed as Executive Director (1978–1984). His role included representing INFACT before national and international organizations, the human milk substitute industry, the US Congress and Executive Branch, and the press. He initiated and coordinated the first international grass-roots consumer boycott (against Nestlé) in ten nations. He was also a co-founder of the International Nestlé Boycott Committee and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). He earned a Master’s in Public and Private Management at Yale University (1988). Then he became the first Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture, in Minneapolis (1988–2012), the first treatment center for torture victims in the US. Since 2013, he has been teaching human rights theory and practice, and sharing lessons he has learned, as a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University (US). (This interview was conducted via Zoom and transcribed verbatim. It has been edited for ease of readability. DJ refers to Doug Johnson and LD refers to Laura Duckett.)


Johnson, Douglas, and Laura J. Duckett. "Advocacy, Strategy and Tactics Used to Confront Corporate Power: The Nestlé Boycott and International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes." Journal of Human Lactation (November 2020).