Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served as the 24th President of Liberia from January 2006 to January 2018. In fact, she was the first elected female head of state in Africa!
Sirleaf was born in Monrovia to a Gola father and Kru-German mother. She attended the College of West Africa, a preparatory school, from 1948 to 1955. She continued her education in the United States, earning an associate degree in accounting at Madison Business College in Madison, Wisconsin and gaining a Master of Public Administration degree at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government.
In addition to serving as President of Liberia, she served as Assistant Minister and Minister of Finance in Liberia, as Vice President of the African Regional Office of Citibank in Kenya, and as the Director of the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Bureau for Africa.
During her time at the UN, Sirleaf was one of seven persons designated by the Organization of African Unity to investigate the Rwandan genocide and one of the two international experts selected to investigate and report on the effect of conflict on women and women's roles in peace building.
In 2011, she was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with two other women for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights.
One of the most notable things she’s known for saying is, “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
Thankfully, Sirleaf's dreams were big. Hopefully yours are too!