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Africa's first elected female head of state, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to speak at University of Tampa graduation

TAMPA — The president of Liberia, Africa's first elected woman president, will give the commencement address on Saturday at the University of Tampa.

The public graduation ceremony will be at 10 a.m. at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who spent more than a year in jail in the 1980s at the hands of Liberian dictator Samuel K. Doe and who was threatened with death by President Charles Taylor, was elected in November, 2005.

An outspoken campaigner against corruption, Johnson-Sirleaf faces an overwhelming challenge of rebuilding a nation left devastated by more than a dozen years of civil war.

Johnson-Sirleaf holds a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and in October 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Before becoming president, she served as director of the United Nations Development Program; as assistant secretary general of the United Nations; and vice president of the Africa Regional Office of Citibank.

She authored the book This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President, which was published in April.

Saundra Amrhein can be reached at or (813) 661-2441.

Africa's first elected female head of state, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to speak at University of Tampa graduation 05/07/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 8, 2009 12:00am]
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