Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Today's awesome woman is Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She's President of Liberia and the first woman president in Africa. She is descended from original Liberian colonists and was born in Monrovia, Liberia in 1938. She married at age 17, and she and her husband came to the USA, where she earned several degrees, including a master's degree in public administration from Harvard. She returned to Liberia and began working for then-President Tolbert, who was executed in a military coup by Samuel Doe. Johnson-Sirleaf went into exile in Nairobi, where she served, from 1983-1985, as a director of Citibank.
When Doe declared himself president, Johnson-Sirleaf went back to Liberia to run against him and was sentenced to ten years in prison, but was released and went back into exile, this time to Washington, D.C.

She became Director of the UN Development Program Regional Bureau for Africa. In 1996, she returned to Libya, which had been through much turmoil after the death of Samuel Doe, and Johnson-Sirleaf ran for president again. .She lost the election to Charles Taylor, who charged her with treason.

More biographical info:

A list of her achievements:

PBS/Independent Lens "Iron Ladies of Liberia" film info at

AWU post & comments are at