SPOKANE, Washington. – Gonzaga University is pleased to announce that it will host Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Peace, on Oct. 4. President Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa, has also graciously agreed to deliver Gonzaga’s sixth Presidential Speaker Series lecture, the first by a visiting head of state, at 7 p.m., in the McCarthey Athletic Center.
A global leader for women’s equality, Sirleaf will reflect upon her life story and discuss the promotion of global peace, justice and human rights. The title of a feature story in The New York Times Magazine referred to her as “An Uncompromising Woman.”
Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh invites the Gonzaga community and the public to hear firsthand of President Sirleaf’s courageous efforts to bring economic growth and peace to war-torn Liberia, her heroic response to the Ebola crisis, and her award-winning efforts to promote human rights, freedom and justice worldwide.
“President Sirleaf is regarded as among the most powerful women in the world and the recipient of many honors, including India’s Indira Gandhi Prize in 2013 in recognition of her efforts toward promoting peace, economic development, and enlarging the scope of freedom,” President McCulloh said. “Hers is a unique story of service, leadership and political activism across a period of dramatic civil war and economic instability. She serves as the leader of a nation with a history of political strife and challenges; despite the high regard with which she is held both at home and abroad, her own administration has been the subject of criticism as well. Imprisoned on several occasions, forced several times during the 1980s and ’90s to flee the country out of fear of reprisal, President Sirleaf’s tenacity and resilience has garnered her the nickname, ‘The Iron Lady of Africa.’”
Since March 2014, President Sirleaf and her government have faced the challenges of addressing and eradicating the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed more than 4,600 Liberians. Responding to this international health crisis has required strength and courage in the face of tremendous adversity.
“Today, the Ebola threat in Liberia has been virtually extinguished, and the World Health Organization gives much of the credit to effective policies established by President Sirleaf’s administration,” President McCulloh said.
In 2007, President Sirleaf was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, for her personal courage and unwavering commitment to expanding freedom and improving the lives of Africans. Fortune Magazine ranks President Sirleaf No. 16 on its (2015) list of World’s Greatest Leaders.
President Sirleaf, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, is the author of “This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President”. READ THE PRESS RELEASE