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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

First Female President of Liberia & Nobel Peace Laureate

Biography

Internationally known as Africa’s “Iron Lady,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a leading promoter of peace, justice, and democratic rule. As Africa’s first democratically elected female president, she has led the war-torn nation of Liberia to restored freedom and peace while enacting economic, social, and political change. Her incredible journey was chronicled in her memoir, This Child Will Be Great. Read More >

Also seen as a global leader for women’s empowerment, President Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in securing women’s rights. Previously, in 2007, she was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom—the United States’ highest civil award—for her personal courage and unwavering commitment to expanding freedom and improving the lives of Africans.

In her efforts to bring justice to her people in Liberia, she has spent more than a year in jail at the hands of the military dictatorship of General Samuel Doe and had her life threatened by former President Charles Taylor. She campaigned relentlessly for Taylor’s removal from office and played an active and supportive role in the Transitional Government of Liberia as the country prepared for elections in October of 2005.

President Johnson Sirleaf was a presidential candidate in the 1997 Liberia general election where she finished second in the field of 13. Before that, she served for five years as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa of the United Nations Development Program as Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and was the first woman to lead the United Nations Development Project for Africa.

In November 2005, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia and became the first woman to lead an African nation. She defeated popular world class soccer star George Weah with an impressive 59.4 percent of the vote.

Whether focusing on providing for the basic needs of her people, striving to end corruption, or advocating for women of all walks of life—not only in Liberia and Africa but across the globe—President Johnson Sirleaf lives a life of courage and vision. Her encouraging message of peace, human rights, economic empowerment, and moral leadership leaves audiences inspired to make a change in the world.

President Johnson Sirleaf grew up in Liberian capital of Monrovia where she married and had four sons, today nine grandchildren. She later earned an accounting degree from the Madison College of Business and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in the United States. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

President Obama Meeting

Secretary Kerry Address

ECA Conference of African Ministers

World Bank

ATT Diplomatic Conference

Speech Topics

Combating Corruption & Crime to Foster Peace

Poverty & Development, Conflict & Peace

The Challenges of Lasting Peace

Africa & Its Place in the World

Leading the World with the Iron Lady’s Touch

Securing Global Women’s Rights