Profile of the #1 Choice of Liberian Political Parties

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 20, 2003

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
As standard bearer for the Unity Party, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf has spent the past two months in Accra representing her party at the peace talks there. A presidential candidate in the widely contested 1997 Liberia general elections, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf came in second to Charles Taylor in a field of thirteen. Since the elections, Taylor has twice charged her with treason. In 1985 her party LAP was winning in all counties and in the presidential race when Samuel Doe stole the elections and jailed her twice for a total of 9 months charging her with sedition.

In a professional life that has spanned over 30 years, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has held a number of prominent positions, including Minister of Finance of Liberia; President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment; Vice President of Citicorp, Africa regional office; Vice President of Hong Kong Equator Bank; and Senior Loan Officer of the World Bank.

She served from 1992-1997 as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa of UNDP with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. She has represented Liberia on the boards of several international and regional financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

She was one of seven international eminent persons selected by the Organization of African Unity in 1999 to investigate the Rwanda genocide; one of the five Commission Chairs of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue; and one of the two international experts selected by UNIFEM to investigate and report on the effect of conflict on women and women's role in peace building. Ms. Johnson Sirleaf consults regularly for the UN Economic Commission for Africa as an External Advisor.

Currently she is a member of the Advisory Board of the Modern Africa Growth and Investment Company (MAGIC). She is also Senior Adviser and West/Central Africa Representative of Modern Africa Fund Managers (MAFM), which has offices in Washington DC, USA and Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Chair and CEO of Kormah Investment and Development Corporation (KODIC), a financial and management advisory consultancy firm incorporated in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.

She serves on the Board of the International Crisis Group. She chairs the board of the Center for Africa's International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. She is the founder of a Liberian community development NGO, Measuagoon. She was the first chair of George Soros West African regional foundation, OSIWA.

She is the recipient of the 1988 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Freedom of Speech Award; the Ralph Bunce International Leadership Award; the Grand Commander Star of Africa Redemption of Liberia; and the Commandeur de l'Ordre du Togo.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the granddaughter of the famous Gola chief, Jahmale, and the Sinoe County market woman Juah Sarwee. She holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and has four sons.