Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female leader on the African continent, will deliver the 2008 graduation address at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). She will speak to graduates and their families on Class Day (June 4) at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
Sirleaf was a Mason Fellow who earned a master’s in public administration (M.P.A.) at the Kennedy School in 1971. She has spent nearly four decades in public life, both in the Liberian government and the nonprofit sector. Known as the “Iron Lady,” Sirleaf was briefly imprisoned after speaking out against the military regime that overthrew President William Tolbert and his administration in 1980. She was exiled from the country several times, returning most recently in 1997. She was elected president in 2005 and sworn into office on Jan. 16, 2006.
“President Sirleaf exemplifies public service through her persistent efforts on behalf of her country and its economic, human, and political development,” said HKS Dean David T. Ellwood.
The event is not open to the public, though it will be Web-streamed live at http://www.iop.harvard.edu/events_forum.html.