Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Madam President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also known as, “Iron Lady,” is the 24th President of Liberia and Africa’s first democratically elected female Head of State; is serving her second term as President after winning the 2011 presidential election. She’s one of the three who won the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 2011. President Sirleaf has throughout her career demonstrated a passionate commitment to hard work, integrity, good governance and has been advocating for the rights of women and the importance of education to provide a better future for her country and its people.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was born on October 29, 1938, in Monrovia, Liberia. She received a degree in accounting at the Madison Business College in Madison, Wisconsin and a degree in economics at the University of Colorado in Boulder,Colorado. She then went on and received a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University.

In 1975 she joined the then-Treasury Department in Liberia, rising to the position of Minister of Finance in 1979 where she introduced measures to curb the mismanagement of government finances. After the 1980 military coup d’état, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served as President of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) but fled Liberia as a result of the increasingly suppressive military dictates of the government that same year. She traveled to Kenya and served as Vice President of CITICORP’s Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, and later moved to Washington, D.C. to assume the position of Senior Loan Officer at the World Bank, and as Vice President for Equator Bank. In 1992 she joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as Assistant Administrator and Director of its Regional Bureau for Africa with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf resigned in 1997 to return to Liberia and ran unsuccessfully against Charles Taylor in the 1997 presidential election. Taylor subsequently charged Johnson Sirleaf with treason. In 2003, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was selected to serve as Chairperson of the Governance Reform Commission where she led the country’s anti-corruption reform by changing the reporting mechanism of the General Auditing Commission from the Executive to the Legislature, thereby strengthening and reinforcing its independence. In 2005, after campaigning for the removal of President Taylor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took over as leader of the Unity Party. She successfully contested the 2005 general and presidential elections; resulting in her historic inauguration on January 16, 2006, as President of the Republic of Liberia. Madam President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the world's first elected black female president and Africa's first elected female head of state. Five years later, she shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, awarded "for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work."

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